Da Costa feels pressure of NHL debut

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:56 PM ET

As if there wasn’t already enough pressure on Stephane Da Costa.

The player the Senators sent down to make room for him on the roster Saturday night is the same guy who scored two goals and was the first star of their 4-1 win over the Panthers Thursday.

Colin Greening had to be the one for demotion to Binghamton, however, as he was an emergency recall March 8. 

As the transaction was being made Friday afternoon, Da Costa was going for a quick skate on the Sensplex ice, then returning to Scotiabank Place to face about 15 members of the media for his first live NHL press conference.

The former Merrimack College scoring star will make his NHL debut Saturday at The Bank versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Very nervous,” Da Costa said of his mindset heading into the game. “Excited for sure.” 

Asked if he felt he was NHL-ready, Da Costa replied: “We’ll see.”

While he will likely suit up for every one of Ottawa’s remaining five games this season, Da Costa will have a base salary of $900,000 and be a cap hit of $1.75 million if he plays in the NHL in the 2011-12 campaign. The Senators will use the season to evaluate him before he is a restricted free agent next summer.

Coach Cory Clouston met with Da Costa Friday morning and said he anticipates the young centre being nervous Saturday.

“It’s a pretty big stage, against Toronto, who’s going to be playing as hard as you could possibly imagine a team playing for their playoff life,” said Clouston. “He’s a skilled guy. We’re going to give him an opportunity to play. We just want him to go out there and play as well as he possibly can. Try not to do too much, keep things simple, and just play his game.”

Clouston hadn’t decided who he was going to play on Da Costa’s line. Because they want to give him some quality ice time, he’ll like be the second-line centre, knocking Ryan Shannon from that job, even though Shannon has thrived in that role.

“We’re going to try and not change up too much,” said Clouston.

“We’ve had a fairly good combination here, a pretty good lineup, a lot of success with this group here. You don’t want to start shifting three, four lines just to make room for one guy.”

Da Costa, who will be only the sixth player from France to play in the NHL, said his parents and brother were flying over from Paris for the game Saturday.

Meanwhile, when he was asked who his childhood idol was, Da Costa named a centre who used to play for Senators GM Bryan Murray.

“I’ll say Sergei Fedorov,” he said. “I try to watch him a lot and do the same stuff.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos