Sens to ‘start back at zero’ next sea­son

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY LISA WAL­LACE

Guy Boucher called the Ot­tawa Se­na­tors’ play­off run a “gi­gan­tic step” in the right di­rec­tion, but cau­tioned the team should be pre­pared to start “from scratch” next sea­son.

In their first year un­der Boucher as head coach, the Se­na­tors ad­vanced to the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal, where they lost in dou­ble over­time in Game 7 to the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins.

The goal in Ot­tawa is to go even far­ther, but Boucher said play­ers can’t ex­pect to pick up at train­ing camp where they left off this sea­son – a goal away from a Stan­ley Cup fi­nal ap­pear­ance.

“The chal­lenge though, and I’ve lived it, is the year when you come back some­times you for­get where you started, and just like it is from game to game you have to build it all from scratch, and that’s ex­actly how it’s go­ing to be next year,” said Boucher. “The real­ity of the NHL now is that mak­ing the play­offs is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult from one year to an­other as we saw this year from teams in our divi­sion, none of those teams are the same this year.

“I think the player’s re­al­ize what they’ve done, but to come back ... we’ve got to do it all over again and the mind­set can’t be that we are the be­gin­ning of the year where we were at the end of the year be­cause you never are there, you have to start back at zero.”

As in any sea­son there will be ros­ter changes.

Ideally the Se­na­tors would like to re-sign goal­tender Mike Con­don, who was ac­quired when Craig An­der­son had to take per­sonal leave to deal with his wife’s can­cer di­ag­no­sis, but Do­rion didn’t seem overly op­ti­mistic Mon­day.

“It’s up to him,” said Do­rion. “If he doesn’t like our of­fer he can just say no. We’d like to bring him back, he wants to come back, but I’ve been around a long time and you know when talks are go­ing nowhere and they haven’t been very good so far.”

Do­rion said that if Con­don can’t be signed they would con­sider bring­ing back An­drew Ham­mond, who re­mains un­der con­tract.

The Se­na­tors only have three re­stricted free agents on their ros­ter: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ryan Dzin­gel and Jyrki Jokipakka. Dzin­gel should get signed and ideally the Se­na­tors would like to see Pageau in the or­ga­ni­za­tion for a long time. They are hope­ful to avoid ar­bi­tra­tion with the 24-year-old, who is highly re­spected by both coach and GM.

The big­ger ques­tion will be what to do with the Se­na­tors free agents. Do­rion will need to make de­ci­sions on Vik­tor Stal­berg, Tommy Win­gels, Tom Py­att, Chris Neil and Chris Kelly.

Py­att was a Boucher favourite and would likely be a pri­or­ity to get re-signed. Stal­berg and Win­gels were late ac­qui­si­tions and cost and term will likely be a fac­tor. Do­rion said he would sit down per­son­ally with vet­er­ans Neil and Kelly to “find out what their plans are and if they’re in re­la­tion with our plans and we’ll go from there.”

Do­rion

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