Fisher, Kelly trades jolt Sens' dressing room

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:17 PM ET

The Senators tried to lighten the mood with their outdoor skate before cheering children at Bayshore Park Wednesday.

But the players’ minds are elsewhere following two stunning trades and the prospect of more Senators being moved as the Feb. 28 deadline approaches.

If GM Bryan Murray was trying to jolt the dressing room, he succeeded by shipping popular teammates Chris Kelly to Boston Tuesday and Mike Fisher to Nashville last Thursday.

The remaining players have been left in a state of shock.

“It’s tough. We expected some stuff to happen, but nothing this drastic this soon,” said centre Jason Spezza. “It’s definitely not the best situation to be in, but we’ve kind of put ourselves in it.

“Everybody knows there’s going to be changes around here and there’s probably a few more to come, but you can’t sit around waiting or worrying. There’s nothing good that can come out of that. We’ve just got to continue to prepare.”

Murray isn’t done making moves to free up salary cap space to rebuild the roster.

Looming unrestricted free agents Chris Phillips, Jarkko Ruutu and Alex Kovalev are at the top of the list.

The names of Chris Campoli, Milan Michalek, Chris Neil and Matt Carkner have also surfaced in trade talks as contenders look to bulk up for a long playoff run.

Those left in the Senators’ dressing room are waiting for more dominos to fall.

“Anytime guys get moved, it’s a shock to the team,” said Campoli. “(Fisher) and (Kelly) are two guys that are really popular among the guys. They’ve been here a long time, so it’s hit the dressing room for sure. It’s always tough to see those guys go.

“It’s an unfortunate part of the game. The reality, as players, we’ve put ourselves in this position and we’ve forced management’s hand in other ways to make changes. This is what happens.”

Before practice Wednesday, coach Cory Clouston sat down with the leadership group left behind to make sure their minds are in the right place.

If they’re not, the Senators’ season could get even more embarrassing over the remaining 25 games.

The losing has been bad enough; Clouston doesn’t want pride to slip away as well.

“We talked with a group of the older players and their attitude is still in the right place,” said Clouston. “In the last week, with the departure of (Fisher) and now (Kelly), first and foremost it’s important for them to have the right attitude.

“They have to bring that focus to practice, bring that focus to games and they have to continue to work hard to put wins together.”

You have to wonder if there are players who would welcome a trade, rather than have to endure a tear-down and rebuilding process.

Spezza said it’s tough for the players right now with no clear plan in place, but he is hopeful salary being cleared off the books will be used to bring in new players next season.

That wouldn’t appear to be in the cards with the club stockpiling draft picks.

“You have to wait and see how everything unfolds first before you make any decisions,” said Spezza. “We don’t really know what the plan is, but it seems like they have some direction. They’re pretty straightforward with how they’re doing things.

“I’m sure at the end of the year, everybody will talk and try to get a better feel for what kind of direction the team is going.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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