OTTAWA - Even if there’s a lockout it won’t stop the boys from being boys.
While the Senators are expecting the worst when the CBA expires Saturday at 11:59 p.m., it won’t stop the players from getting together next week for a skate in Kanata, they’ll just being doing it under different circumstances.
Instead of getting ready for camp to open, the Senators and a group of area players have rented ice at the Bell Sensplex and will have former NHLer John Chabot running the workouts.
Though you’d think players would stay away in droves with the uncertainty, that’s hardly been the case.
Centre Jason Spezza and goalie Craig Anderson were among the newcomers on the ice Tuesday.
“I thought I’d come here and skate with the guys,” said Spezza, who spent the summer at his off-season home in Mississauga. “It’s good to get guys together. We’ve stressed still getting guys to come in and at least for the first little bit here. If things go for a while, maybe guys will scatter and go home.
“It could be a real advantage for your team if you can skate together and be around each other. We like being around each other, so it’s good to be with the guys. It’s been a long summer away from guys, so it’s fun to have a few weeks together.”
The players aren’t sure what the future holds. They’re hoping to get more answers during meetings with NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and the bargaining committee Wednesday and Thursday in New York.
Spezza has worked hard to encourage many of his teammates to attend the meetings. He’ll be joined by captain Daniel Alfredsson, defenceman Marc Methot, centre Zack Smith and as many as five others for the two-day session.
“It’s important for guys to be there, not just to show unity, but to get information,” said Spezza. “Don and the PA have done a great job of passing around information this time around by making the meetings open to everybody.
“They’ve made everybody comfortable being there and that’s why you’re seeing so many guys go. The more guys (who) can get informed, the more (who) can understand what is going on, what’s being offered and why the league is locking us out.”
After returning from the Big Apple, Spezza will stay busy skating in Kanata, but it’s not going to be that way all season.
Like Alfredsson, Spezza will skate, work out and stay busy with his family. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing in Europe.
“I’m not going to sit around all season without playing,” said Spezza. “I’m going to give it some time here to see what’s going on. I think we have some time here to make a deal. I don’t think you have to be pressed to do something on Sept. 15, but I’m certainly not going to sit around and not play if I can go somewhere and play.
“I’ve looked into a few things. First and foremost, I just want to find a way to get this settled. If I can help speed things along by being part of that, at least in the initial part, and then decide what’s best for myself and my family.”
Staying ready has been tough with the reality that the start of camp will be cancelled getting closer.
“It’s a different feeling, for sure. Usually you’d be tapering off and getting ready for testing (in camp),” said Spezza. “Now, we’re trying to do a good job of organizing our own skates.”
At the very least, they’ll be entertaining pickup games and maybe on Fridays somebody can bring a cold beer to pass around in the dressing room.
Daniel Alfredsson will be doing Dad duty to start the lockout.
The Senators captain, who told the Sun on the weekend he’ll consider playing if the work stoppage lasts past Christmas, said Tuesday he’ll be helping his wife Bibi take care of the couple’s four children for the first couple of months.
“I’m not going anywhere,” said Alfredsson. “The children are in school and they have their activities and my wife needs all the help she can get. If there’s no hockey, I will be able to help out at home.”
Alfredsson’s oldest son Hugo just made the competitive atom team in Kanata.
After returning from NHLPA meetings in New York on Thursday, Alfredsson will be off to Peterborough Friday for Hugo’s first tournament of the season.