Senators answer questions from fans
TIM BAINES, QMI Agency
|Ottawa Senators president Cyril Leeder. (QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - Finally, we’re talking hockey.
With the NHL and NHLPA talks gaining traction, Senators president Cyril Leeder, GM Bryan Murray and Binghamton GM Tim Murray took a wide range of questions from Senators season seat holders from Monday on a video conference call.
Fans weighed in on topics such as Daniel Alfredsson, the length of the NHL regular season, Scotiabank Place amenities, “stinkin’ Leaf” fans, team toughness, Robin Lehner’s weight loss and fitness level, the B-Sens and the long-term potential of the Senators.
Leeder said under the NHL’s proposal to play a full 82-game schedule, a deal would have to be struck by Oct. 25. There would be a week-long training camp leading into the start of the regular season on Nov. 2.
“What we know of the schedule is they’ll try to keep as many of the games slotted in that they have ... and try to catch up with the games they’ve missed,” said Leeder. “So our expectation is a lot of our dates from Nov. 2 on will remain the same if we’re able to start on time.”
Asked if a condensed schedule would jam too much hockey into too short a period of time, Leeder said: “There’s a practical limit to how many games you can play in a certain period of time. The schedule wasn’t going to start until Oct. 11. Practically speaking, if we start on Nov. 2, we’d be about three weeks later than we otherwise would have been.
“As we understand it, the league asked us for extra dates two weeks into April. I think the plan was to extend the schedule by two extra weeks to make up for the three that they lost. I think you can make up one week worth of games. You might be able to make up two. Can you make up five in the same period? No. Adding two weeks to make up three, I think we can do, to get an 82-game season in without being too much hockey for our players.”
Leeder said the Senators want to get back to work — right now. He’s hopeful the sides can reach an agreement, knowing that fans are becoming restless.
“What we’re trying to do as best we can is provide feedback back to the league ... and they understand what the mood is in here in our community,” he said. “What we’ve been telling them is our fans are not in the same spot as they were seven years ago. They’re not going to put up with a long lockout. We’re encouraging the league to try and make a deal as quickly as possible.”
Once hockey returns, the Senators want to build on last season’s momentum.
“We think if there is a season, a number of young people will get a chance to impress (coach) Paul MacLean and his staff,” said Bryan Murray. “We’re just crossing our fingers that happens. I believe we’re on the rise here. We’ve got people fans will be really excited about.
“I’d like (to think) this team is going to be a really good team for a lot of years.”
As for a concern that maybe the Senators could lack toughness, Murray said: “We’re not going to get another Matt Carkner at this time. We do have some tough kids here. We have a couple of guys in the minors right now that can come up and address part of the issue. I think we can replace (Zenon) Konopka’s toughness by a couple of guys. For the one-punch knockout guy, we don’t have him at this point in time. We feel that’s a very important area of the game. It’ll be team toughness, maybe, more than individual. They won’t push us around.”
The mood was optimistic and at least there finally is reason for hockey fans to be optimistic.
“We desperately want to be back playing hockey,” said Leeder.
“When I see what we have here ... we have a good young group,” said Bryan Murray. “We know the future of this franchise is very bright and I’m anxious to see them play.”