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Kelly's at home in Ottawa

Senators centre has 'great feeling' about new four-year contract with Sens

Saturday, 21.06.2008 / 1:53 PM / Features
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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Kelly\'s at home in Ottawa
Once a Senator, always a Senator.

So it would appear to be for veteran centre Chris Kelly, who wore a broad grin today at Scotiabank Place as he discussed the new four-year contract he signed with the Senators.

"It's a great feeling," said Kelly, 27, a third-round pick (94th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. "Being here for another four years is what I wanted. All I know is Ottawa and I love it here, so it was nice to get it done.

"I've only been on a one-year deal, other than my entry-level contract. I couldn't imagine being in a better spot for another four years. I wasn't wanting to move. I love it here, I spend my summers here and to spend another four years here is great."

The deal was done just 10 days before Kelly would have been eligible to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. He noticed the clock ticking as that July 1 date drew closer.

"It was a long process," he said of the negotiation between his camp and Senators general manager Bryan Murray. "There were some mornings were you wondered 'is this going to get done?' But my agent (Pat Morris) and Bryan, they worked hard and they stuck with it and got it done. I was happy at the end of the day."

Kelly, who said he has fully recovered from a leg fracture that cut short his 2007-08 season, didn't succumb to the lure of unrestricted free agency.

"There's always that temptation," he said. "If any player says they weren't tempted, they're lying to you. Certain guys want to know what they're worth out there. You want to see how valuable you are in the league.

"At the end of the day, I like it here. It's all I know. I was drafted by these guys in '99. A lot of people in the organization were here when I got drafted. I really, really am happy to be here for another four years."

He'll also take the pressure that goes along with playing for a heftier salary in a Canadian city.

"Playing in Canada, there's added pressure but I love that pressure," said Kelly. "I love playing hockey here and being the main attraction in Ottawa. I look forward to that.

"Every year, there's pressure and every year we want to try to win the Stanley Cup."

In other player news, goaltender Ray Emery cleared NHL waivers today and Murray said the Senators will "immediately" begin the process of buying out the remainder of his contract. Murray added forward Brian McGrattan "is not in my plans" for next season, though what route the Senators might take with him from here isn't clear yet.

What is clear is that Murray plans to change the face of the team heading into next season.

"We're going to try to keep the core as it is, for the most part, but we're trying to do a couple of other things to give (new head coach) Craig Hartsburg a real chance when he comes in here to start," said Murray. "It's not going to be fresh, because we're going to have a lot of guys that are going to be returning, but there are going to be some new faces on this team."


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