Senators embracing a fresh start
Team insists Heatley trade has made them deeper, better team
|Jason Spezza watches the action during the first day of on-ice workouts during Senators training camp at Scotiabank Place.
A campaign now filled with hopes the Ottawa Senators believe got a whole lot brighter with the weight of the Dany Heatley trade rumours finally lifted from their collective shoulders.
"It was good for everybody," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said Sunday about the news the team received the day before, that Heatley had been shipped to the San Jose Sharks in a deal that brings forwards Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo to Ottawa.
"Most importantly, it was good for the dressing room and good for the players, just not to have that hanging over their head (anymore)."
Added captain Daniel Alfredsson: "It's good that we got it done now. We can get Milan and Jonathan joining us as quick as possible and being part of (training) camp, which is going to make the adjustment easier for everybody.
"It was good to see that Bryan (Murray, the Senators' general manager) got it done yesterday."
With the potential distraction now behind them, the Senators hit the ice at Scotiabank Place on Sunday thinking only about what comes next. With one day's worth of on-ice work at 2009-10 training camp now in the books, they already like the possibilities.
"In general, the team just wanted to move forward, whether it was with Dany or without him," said defenceman Chris Campoli. "(Michalek and Cheechoo) are two pretty good players, so it's going to be a great opportunity for our team to come together at camp, build into the regular season and build on what I thought we accomplished at the end of last year. They're going to help us."
Michalek, a 24-year-old power forward with emerging potential, and Cheechoo, a former 56-goal scorer, surely add to the Senators' depth up front. Suddenly, it's a team that isn't nearly as likely to struggle to find scoring depth beyond its top line.
"We don't have the one 50-goal scorer," said Clouston. "Cheechoo scored 50 goals (in 2005-06), but we're not putting those kinds of expecations on him ... I guess if you looked at a weakness on our team last year, it was the fact that we didn't have that type of offensive depth up front. We definitely do now."
Indeed, it's been quite some time since the Senators sported the potential for such a balanced attack. Along with the two players acquired Saturday, Clouston also has the many offensive talents of Alex Kovalev to insert into his lineup.
"We're all excited," said centre Mike Fisher. "We're going to have four good lines and a mix of a lot of different things. We're really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be great for us.
Michalek and Cheechoo aren't due to arrive at training camp for a few days yet. But already, there's a general feeling that the Senators are exiting this weekend as a stronger team than they entered it.
"I'd like to think so," Alfredsson said when asked if he believes Saturday's trade strengthened the team's lineup. "It looks like we're going to be fairly deep in forwards. It's going to be tough fighting for ice time, which is a good thing.
"If you look at us last year, we were trying to have one line or 1-1/2 lines scoring. Now we can put three lines together who can contribute offensively or maybe even a fourth. So I think we're a better team."
Centre Jason Spezza, who just might be the man to help Cheechoo regain his scoring touch, heartily agreed with the captain's sentiment.
"You're never going to replace (Heatley's) 50 goals, but I think we're a better club," he said. "We have more depth. You replace Heater with Kovalev, Michalek and Cheechoo ... it's a pretty good start. I think we're a better club today."