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Sens put Canisius product Conacher on waivers; does Tim Murray put in a claim?

By Mike Harrington

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Ottawa Senators have put former Canisius College star Cory Conacher on waivers and have reportedly done likewise with veteran defenseman Joe Corvo.

The Sabres have already made waiver claims this year for the likes of Matt D'Agostini and Zenon Konopka and essentially took a flyer on Linus Omark, trying him for a conditional draft pick that was not sent to Edmonton because Omark didn't play 15 games with Buffalo. 

GM Tim Murray, of course, came from Ottawa so he would have full knowledge on Conacher. It would seem to make sense for the Sabres to put in the claim.

Throw out the fact that Conacher starred in college, becoming Canisus' all-time leader in goals and points. His 20 points with Ottawa would make him the Sabres' sixth-leading scorer. And his cap hit is just $871,250.

Conacher, 24, has been a disappointment in Ottawa this year with just four goals and 16 assists in 59 games. The disappointment is magnified by the fact the Sens gave up goaltender Ben Bishop to get him and Bishop thrived into the starter in Tampa Bay.

Conacher was a revelation for the Lightning last year with a fast start after the lockout, and had nine goals and 24 points in 35 games before getting traded to Ottawa. 

Should the Sabres put in the claim? Vote below.

Ottawa's Cowen gets two-game Shanaban for hit on Girgensons

By Mike Harrington

This just in from the NHL Department of Player Safety: Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen has been suspended for two games for a shot to the head of Sabres rookie Zemgus Girgensons late in the third period of Tuesday night's game in First Niagara Center.

Cowen will thus miss Thursday's rematch with the teams in Canadian Tire Centre. There was no penalty on the play and Girgensons was not injured. He went on to score the shootout-deciding goal in Buffalo's 2-1 victory.

Cowen will forfeit $31,794.88. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Cowen certainly would have been on the NHL's radar after an elbow to the head of Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk on Nov. 23 left the Red Wings' star concussed. NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan pretty much admitted it was a mistake that Cowen wasn't suspended, and from the sound of that article linked he got fooled by the fact Datsyuk finished the game before the symptoms arose.

Shanahan correctly says in the video above that Cowen has no history of supplemental discipline. Although the Datsyuk play was clearly worse and caused an injury. So the bet here was that it was clearly a factor.

Alfie returns to Ottawa with Wings

Sun-AlfieBy Mike Harrington

One of the major curiosity dates on the NHL schedule takes place this evening when longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson returns to Ottawa for the first time as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.

It's the biggest story in town in Canada's capital, as evidenced by today's cover of the Ottawa Sun (left). The game is a 5:30 start and will be shown nationwide in Canada, and on NHL Network in the United States. 

(* -- If you're looking for Sabres news, they're off today and return to the ice tomorrow *)

Alfredsson got to practice in his old rink Saturday and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Alfie will be in the starting lineup as the Senators play a five-minute video tribute to their former captain.

It will certainly be interesting to see the reaction for Alfredsson, who is clearly the greatest Senator of all time but was a bit of a turncoat when he spured Ottawa and signed a one-year deal with Detroit in July. I'm sure there are Senators fans who aren't keen on the idea of a tribute.

An aside here: The Sabres correctly never considered a tribute for Daniel Briere and Chris Drury when they returned in 2008 because fan backlash would have been huge. If you remember, they basically both got booed every time they touched the puck. Alfredsson, on the other hand, is essentially the Gilbert Perreault of Ottawa.

(And, for the record, the Sabres still were dopes for not giving Jason Pominville 30 seconds when he returned in October, although the current belief is Darcy Regier nixed that plan. Still, no current Sabres employee has ever confirmed that point to me and it would have made sense to given how they got shredded in my column and by plenty of fans. But I digress...)

The reaction of the fans to Alfredsson is just about as big a story as the game itself.

"I'm anxious to play the game. What's going to happen will happen," Alfredsson said. "It's very different from anything I've ever gone through before. I don't know what to expect or what's going to happen. I'm hopeful it will be a good night."

Vote for the three stars

Stunner from Ottawa: Sens captain Alfredsson leaving for Detroit or Boston

Alfie
Daniel Alfredsson: Heading out of Ottawa. (Getty Images)

By Mike Harrington

Be sure to join us here at noon for the latest updates on NHL free agency, but here's some stunning news just emerging out of Ottawa -- captain Daniel Alfredsson is not returning to the only NHL team he has played for.

Alfredsson has informed the Senators he will not be re-signing, which had been considered a mere formality in the last couple of days. Instead, he is going to hit the free agent market and is expected to sign with either the Detroit Red Wings or Boston Bruins (most reports have Detroit in the lead, with Alfredsson joining fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg and the deal being one year and $3.5 million).

Alfredsson is far and away Mr. Senator, a player who seemed destined to play his whole career in Ottawa. He has 426 goals, 682 assists and 1,108 points in 1,178 games since making his debut in Ottawa in 1995. He is the NHL's longest-tenured captain, having taken over the role from Alexei Yashin in 1999.

And, of course, he is forever tied to the Sabres-Senators playoff battles as the player Jason Pominville went around to score the short-handed overtime goal that ended the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal in 2006, and the overtime scorer that broke Buffalo's hearts in the decisive Game Five of the Eastern Conference finals in 2007. Alfredsson also scored his 1,000th career point in Buffalo in 2010 with an empty-net goal that capped a hat trick.

Ottawa went on to lose the Stanley Cup final in '07 to Anaheim and Alfredsson hasn't been that close to the Cup since. At age 40, a sudden move like this is clearly a chase of a championship.

And remember this point: If it's the Red Wings, Alfredsson is moving within the division. Detroit is joining Tampa Bay and Florida next season in the yet-unnamed division with the five holdovers from the Northeast. Instant new rivalry.

 

 

Best presser of the playoffs

By Mike Harrington

Senators coach Paul MacLean was short and sweet and took no questions after Wednesday's 7-3 loss to the Penguins. Right to the point. About 20 seconds worth. Classic stuff from the Bug-Eyed Walrus.

With trade to Sens, Canisius' Conacher gains in standings, gets earlier trip back to Buffalo

By Mike Harrington

Cory Conacher is losing out on the Florida sun but he got a big jump in the standings and a much shorter trip to games for his family.

The former Canisius College star was traded Wednesday by the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Ottawa Senators for goalie Ben Bishop in one of the more interesting trades on deadline day.

Oddly enough, Conacher's debut with the Senators will come here Friday night against the Sabres. He had been scheduled to play the Buffalo homecoming game with Tampa on April 14. Conacher left Tampa Wednesday on a flight to Boston to join the Senators.

"I was counting down the days when I was with Tampa and the Tampa team play Buffalo in about a week. And now I get to play them sooner," Conacher said on Team 1200 Radio in Ottawa before boarding the flight. 

"So it's going to be a lot of fun to go to Buffalo to see some old friends from school, my old coach as well. It's going to be a fun little trip there, a fun start to my Ottawa career and hopefully we get a win there."

Click below to hear the entire Conacher interview

Cory Conacher

Video: More on Karlsson from NHL Network, Sens GM Murray

By Mike Harrington

Click above for the NHL Network's take on the Erik Karlsson injury. Here's a solid column by good friend of the blog Pierre LeBrun on ESPN.com, who points out that as much of a loss Karlsson is to the Senators, it's a bigger loss to the league as a whole

Ottawa GM Bryan Murray held a press conference today, confirming Karlsson has had surgery for a 70 percent cut of his Achilles and will be out 3-4 months.

"His year is finished at this time," said Murray, who explained this is an injury that could have taken up to a year of recovery time if it was more severe.

Continue reading "Video: More on Karlsson from NHL Network, Sens GM Murray" »

Karlsson's injury will KO Sens

Original
Coming to a photojournalism contest near you: Erik Karlsson's Achilles is sliced by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke (left). (AP Photo)

 

By Mike Harrington

Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson combined on the short-handed goal that beat the Sabres Tuesday night in Ottawa and the Senators looked pretty darn good in that game even without the injured Jason Spezza. Goalie Craig Anderson had a 42-save shutout and played like the NHL's best.

But Michalek suffered an unknown lower-body injury during the warmup last night in Pittsburgh and now Karlsson, the defending Norris Trophy winner, is done for the year after suffering a lacerated Achilles in a collision with Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke. Karlsson will be out at least 3-4 months, Sens GM Bryan Murray said today. So that's it for him.

I didn't like the Cooke play at all. Brendan Shanahan issued no suspension today and I see that. It's hard to judge intent. There wasn't even a penalty on the play. But what was Cooke's leg even doing up there? Was he getting ready for a slew foot? 

Continue reading "Karlsson's injury will KO Sens" »

Vote for your three stars

Live from Scotiabank Place: Sabres at Senators

Both offenses in spotlight tonight

By Mike Harrington

OTTAWA -- Both teams are looking at key parts of their offense to get their games going tonight when the Sabres and Senators meet in Scotiabank Place.

The Sabres, of course, have the NHL's top line in Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Jason Pominville but little other scoring. Drew Stafford continues to have no goals -- and leads the NHL's goal-less players with 36 shots on goal.

"Obviously we need more production out of Drew," coach Lindy Ruff bluntly told me today. "He had Grade A opportunities last game (Sunday's 3-1 loss to Boston), two that we need him to finish. I can't stand here and say, 'Well he had two great chances.' The production is putting those away. When the game was 1-1, he could have turned it to 2-1 for us on a couple of his opportunties.

"He did make a real good play to [Tyler] Ennis that got us the tie. Maybe that's a start. Some of the in-tight stuff, he's had a couple chances and the in-tight stuff has got to improve."

Continue reading "Both offenses in spotlight tonight" »

Myers gets another chance vs. Sens

Myers
Tyler Myers (right) met Colin Greening along the boards last week in Ottawa and gets another shot tonight. (Getty Images)

 

By Mike Harrington

OTTAWA -- The Sabres have done a lot of talking the last few days amongst themselves. But what's the old adage? Talk is cheap. Let's see what it means on the ice.

We get a big look tonight at Scotiabank Place as defenseman Tyler Myers returns to the lineup for the game against the Ottawa Senators after sitting out two games as a healthy scratch. Myers had long talks with coach Lindy Ruff and veteran Robyn Regher last Friday in Long Island and said today he's prepared to be "starting from ground zero"* tonight.

(*Good call considering Myers' minus-9 rating is better than only the minus-10 of Los Angeles' Drew Doughty. Wow, there's a reason the defending champs are worse off than the Sabres).

"It feels good to be back in but I don't know if it's a relief," Myers said today. "I don't come here just to get in the lineup. I need to put together a solid defensive game and just build it from there. I've tried to work as hard as I can using the time I have to try to mentally get prepared and that's the biggest thing. I don't think at this point it's anything physical. It's just getting my head straight."

Continue reading "Myers gets another chance vs. Sens" »

Sabres take a break from schedule overload

By John Vogl

The Sabres canceled a day off last week and practiced because they needed the work. They decided today they needed the rest.

The Sabres have axed their practice scheduled for this morning and will meet this afternoon when they travel to Ottawa. They play the Senators on Tuesday, which will be the team's 14th game in 24 days.

Continue reading "Sabres take a break from schedule overload" »

Live from Scotiabank Place: Sabres at Senators

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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