Leafs beat Senators to Bozak

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

Patrick Wiercioch might be an excellent Senators prospect, but it would appear he's not much of a salesman.

As impressed as he was with the organization and city when he was drafted by Ottawa in Ottawa last June, Wiercioch was unable to convince University of Denver Pioneers teammate Tyler Bozak to sign here as a free agent.

But then, since when do 23-year-olds take the advice of 18-year-olds anyway, right?

"(Amateur scout) Lewis Mongelluzzo, (director of hockey operations) Brent (Flahr), (assistant GM) Tim (Murray) and myself all went to see him," Senators GM Bryan Murray said of Bozak, who opted instead to ink a deal with the Maple Leafs yesterday in another lost battle of Ontario. "Lewis talked to him often.

"It's disappointing when you put lots of effort into it and you don't get a guy."

Bozak, a 6-foot, 165-lb. centre from Regina, has eight goals and 15 assists through 19 Pioneer games this season. Murray says he's good enough to play in the NHL now.

"We certainly offered a pretty good opportunity for him," said Murray. "He would have fit in with our team pretty well, we thought, as an offensive type of guy."

Senators fans won't be able to stay mad at Wiercioch if Bozak turns out to be a good one. With 12 goals and 23 assists through 36 games, the big defenceman is third in team scoring, and he's still a freshman.

Still six months from his 19th birthday, Wiercioch appears to be the true prize of the Pioneers.

DYNAMIC DUO

Both Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley spoke yesterday of lessons learned in a season that currently sees the Senators 24th in the NHL. "It's a disappointing year, but I don't think it's a write-off," said Spezza. "You learn a lot from losing. You're real hard on yourself ... you learn to be a little more even keeled at times. That's something that I've learned. When you're losing games, you've got to kind of separate yourself from the rink. I don't think I did a very good job of that, going home earlier in the year. You're getting frustrated and taking it home. You kind of mature that way. You learn a lot from losing." ... Of losing, Heatley said: "My first three years here were obviously a lot more successful. You're dealing with a little more media stuff, a little more negative stuff around the city and around the media. I guess I was aware of that, but this year was definitely tough from that aspect." Asked if he became better dealing with the negativity, he added: "Yeah, I think I definitely feel better about that. I'll take that into next year." Asked if he thinks the Ottawa media are unfair, Heatley chuckled. "I'm not going to go there. No comment. It's not a day to get into it." Sigh ... Spezza, who will play his 400th NHL game tonight, is one of four Senators to suit up for all of Ottawa's 77 contests so far this season. "It flies by," Spezza said of the time. "Especially if you have a couple of years where you don't miss games. I don't want to say it feels like yesterday because it doesn't feel like yesterday, but it definitely comes quick." His hope for the next 400? "To win a couple of Cups in there," said Spezza. Why settle for one, eh? ...

THIS AND THAT

Almost 13 full hours since returning from a long road trip, Daniel Alfredsson still hadn't discussed the possibility of playing for Sweden in the worlds with his wife Bibi. Imagine. "She had other items on the agenda," Alfredsson said when asked what the two of them talked about over breakfast that day. "I'm sure the next few days we'll discuss it. I'll talk to (Senators athletic therapist) Gerry (Townend) here, too, and we'll make a decision." ... Another collegiate star the Senators have interest in is 24-year-old Boston University D Matt Gilroy, a 6-foot-2, 195-pounder who has 36 points in 43 games. However, there's talk Gilroy has already decided to go to another team, and don't be shocked if it's the Leafs.


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