Winchester has itch to get going

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:25 AM ET

OTTAWA - Jesse Winchester has spent the summer golfing, fishing and working out.

And then on Wednesday, he was helping out at the Senators' hockey school at the Bell Sensplex.

While he was getting plenty of attention at the school, signing autographs, Winchester has his sights on the ucpoming season.

As the Senators prepare to kickoff their 20th season by unveiling their anniversary plans Thursday with a splashy press conference, Winchester is hopeful this team can get back to the playoffs.

“That’s the goal from Day 1,” said Winchester. “We’re going to come in, work hard and build towards (the playoffs). We have to get used to all the new faces and the new coach, but I think (Paul MacLean) brings a winning mentality to the team.

“It’s going to be fun to learn and grow under that.”

Laurie Boschman, the original captain of the Senators, will be among the special guests at the press conference. Most of the original Ottawa team from 1992-93 is expected to be on hand Opening Night on Oct. 13 at Scotiabank Place.

The club will unveil its 20th anniversary logo, announce plans for the upcoming season and will also show off its new Heritage third jersey. Senators president Cyril Leeder wants this year to be special, capped with all-star weekend in January.

There have been a lot of changes since the Senators missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. Coach Cory Clouston was given his walking papers immediately following the season by GM Bryan Murray, who started the rebuild at the February deadline.

Hired in mid-June, MacLean won a Stanley Cup as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings. The challenge will be to get the young players to learn quickly.

A lot of those new faces — including Bobby Butler, Patrick Wiercioch, Erik Condra and Colin Greening — finished the year in Ottawa and were able to win a Calder Cup championship with the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton.

Winchester said that will be valuable experience.

“That was great for them to get rewarded that way,” said Winchester. “That’s why I can’t wait to get back on the ice. They had a great finish there. We’re going to be a lot of fun to be around. There’s going to be a lot of energy and hard work.

“That bodes well for the future of the team. They’re going to bring a winning attitude. They played and they won. We can feed of that and try to win.”

Winchester, who hasn’t started skating with the local pros yet, said he’s looking forward to camp.

“I’m starting to get the real itch to get out there,” said Winchester. “It’s a new beginning. There’s a lot of excitement around what’s going on with the team and I’m looking forward to having a good training camp as well.”

DAUGAVINS BACK: F Kaspars Daugavins will make $600,000 if he’s in the NHL and $105,000 in the minors on his one-year, two-way deal.


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