Truth of the matter is, no one knows when the door will open for players to report.
“We hope that we can make things happen, and be here and start on time,” Jason Spezza said of the obstacle that is a yet-to-be signed, new collective bargaining agreement. “As players, there’s nothing really unreasonable that we’re looking to change. We’re pretty happy with the state of the game, and I think the league should be pretty happy with the state of the game too. All the ratings are up, seems like the numbers are up and everybody’s doing well financially, team-wise.
“We don’t know what they’re going to come at us with, though, either. There’s some things we have to be hard lined about and there’s some things we can’t budge on, that’s dealing with our health and guaranteeing we play a lot of games. If they come after certain things, it could be tough. But we feel like the game is in a really good state, and we should be able to figure things out, without getting in to a stoppage. That’s the last thing the players want and I imagine the owners feel the same way.”
Ditto, and no doubt you’re saying ditto, too.
As for the Senators, there’s no guarantee that the promise shown in 2011-12 will carry over. As worried about a winter of no NHL you might be, MacLean has his own fears.
“I feel good about the fact I can coach in the league and we’ve had satisfaction, so I guess I give myself credibility that I can do this,” he said, after unselfishly conveying his belief that the leadership provided by Daniel Alfredsson, Spezza and Chris Phillips was more responsible for the Senators success this season than his own doing. “But now the hard part is to do it again.
“I remember when I scored 30 goals for the first time, and I was all pumped up about it and an old guy, Floyd Thomson, said ‘Oh yeah? well now you’ve got to do it again.’
“I feel the same way today. That’s a motivator for me, and it also scares me to death. Because I know how hard it is, and it’s hard to do. But I’m looking forward to it, and I’m excited about September, of getting back for training camp and getting started again.
“But I’m also scared to death.”
Cross your fingers that the millionaires can agree on how to split up the money you’re putting in their bank accounts, as well as get over any other stumbling blocks that could jeopardize the commencement of the 2012-13 campaign.
THIS AND THAT: At least 10 players were requested by the media, and when one of them was speaking on the makeshift podium, Craig Anderson left the building in his toque and with his sticks and bag. What does it say about the series MVP for the Senators that nobody asks to talk with him? ... Speaking first was Chris Neil, who was the team’s second-best player against the Rangers. Neil had the overtime winner in Game 2, assisted on the Sergei Gonchar goal that sent Game 4’s eventual win into OT, and scored the first goal in Game 6 that the Senators were unable to build on. He also beat up Rangers tough guy Brandon Prust and was second on the team in hits (to Jared Cowen) with 27, including the one that sidelined the New York MVP, Brian Boyle, for the rest of the series in Game 5. Looking at it now, maybe Neil was even a bigger star than Anderson. Rangers fans didn’t chant derogatory remarks at the Ottawa goalie in Game 7. Neil didn’t actually hear them singing that he’s an “a--hole” or them shouting “f--- you Neil”, but was informed of their vindictiveness by Alex Auld, the team’s third-string goalie who was watching from the stands. “It’s an honour, almost,” Neil said with a grin Saturday. “Makes you feel like you did your job.” ... Kyle Turris is going to have a much better summer this year than he did last. All he really needs to focus on is getting bigger and stronger — starting with the month he’ll spend working out Senators conditioning coach Chris Schwarz before going home — rather than his standing with his team, as was the case before camp with the Phoenix Coyotes. “I’m already counting it down. I can’t wait,” said Turris, who will have a heavy leg up on the Senators’ second-line centre job. “I’m going to be ready to go, that’s for sure.” Asked if he expects he’ll have Alfredsson as his right winger again, Turris said: “I sure hope so. He’s a guy that does so much for everybody on this team. He gives everybody confidence, he’s one of the best leader in the game, he’s just such a nice person. All that and not talking about his hockey ability. He’s one of the best players in the game. I’ll be begging him to come back.” ... Peter Regin (remember him?) hopes to have a spot on the roster as well. A restricted free agent who played just 10 games before having his second season-ending operation on the same shoulder, Regin is positive he can return to being the player he once was. “It was a different injury this time. It wasn’t the same,” said Regin, who was supposed to be the Senators’ second-line centre this season. “I guess I was just unlucky that it was the same body part on the same side, so it looked bad that way. I’m confident, the doctors are confident, so it shouldn’t be a problem.” ... Zenon Konopka’s back problems were so bad he couldn’t finish the warmup before Game 6 and was a definite “doubtful” for Game 7. Konopka, who still leads all NHLers in playoff faceoff percentage (70.7) of those who have taken at least 75, refused to miss either. “Couple of mornings I couldn’t get out of bed,” he said. “The trainers were working on me around the clock. I spent more time with (trainer) Gerry (Townend) than anyone else in my life, my girlfriend included. He did an amazing job. It’s something I’ve preached my whole life. You do everything you can in the playoffs to win a series. I really didn’t want to miss a game.” ... Konopka can become an unrestricted free agent and reiterated that he’d “love” to be back. “It’s the ugly part of hockey that I don’t like,” he said of contract talks. “Guess that’s why I have an agent.” ... Matt Carkner, also UFA-eligible, didn’t have as much luck convincing the team he could play Game 7 through a knee injury. “I was kind of in a position to do some drastic things to play in Game 7 or to save myself for the next series,” he said. it’s Game 7. “I wanted to do anything I could. We made an executive decision, together I guess. They wanted me to be there for the second round.” ... Will Filip Kuba be back? “I have to sit down with my agent and think about what the options are,” he said. “I’d like to be here next year.” Judging by an email citing his importance to the team yours truly received from his agent earlier this season, the contract demand will be way more than the Senators will want to meet .. Spezza is well aware of the criticisms for the team’s failure that are being directed his way. Frankly, they’re way over top, but he can take them. “I understand my position on the team and understand with it comes a lot of scrutiny,” he said. “I feel I can look at myself in the mirror and know I gave it my all. I feel like I leave it out on the ice. I feel there’s areas I can grow as a player, but it takes time. I’m trying to get better every day, and because I’m always pushing myself to get better you can block out the criticism that comes at the end of the year. There’s only one team that doesn’t get criticized, and that’s the team that wins.” ... Spezza offered to play for Team Canada at the world championship, but was told the squad is already set. Alfredsson hasn’t decided if he’ll represent Sweden. Erik Karlsson would, if he can get some details finalized. “It’s a great honour and something I want to do,” he said. “I have no contract and the insurance part is a little tricky. If we can work around that, it’s going to take a lot to say no.” .. And then there’s Kaspars Daugavins, who is heading home to Latvia and then just going to show up at the tournament Wednesday. “I told them before, I’ll always play for the national team,” he said. “Nobody has called me yet but I’m just going to arrive. That’s how it works in Latvia. It’s not like we have any players. Everybody wants to come pretty much comes. We have like 25 players playing around the world, so it’s like if everybody comes, they come. If nobody shows up, it’s like, ‘oh, he doesn’t want to play.’ Normally they’ll send out a letter to the team, that officially I’m invited. But I’m just going to show up.” Daugavins is also without a contract and there there’s no indication if the Senators want him back. “I’m just happy I played here this year, any games,” said Daugavins, who wound up playing in 65 for Ottawa, while scoring five goals, six assists and playing an instrumental penalty-kill role. “At the start of the year I signed a contract and I didn’t have much belief in myself anymore, that I’m going to make it. Said I’d fight for a job, give it a last chance. It worked out, I got an opportunity and I thought I played well. Obviously it hurts not playing the last playoff games. It sucks to be in the stands and watching guys do it you can’t help. It definitely doesn’t help me getting a contract, either. but I’m going to see what they offer me. I really want to come back and play here. I don’t want to go to Europe. I like it here.” His teammates would want him back, too, as Daugavins was one of the most popular players in the room.