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Gerber doing his best to push for playing time - as member of Sens or not

NHL.com @NHL

OTTAWA - Martin Gerber is making a push for a job in training camp, whether it's with the Ottawa Senators or eventually elsewhere.

The 33-year-old goaltender lost his No. 1 role to Ray Emery last season after arriving in Ottawa as a high-priced free agent last summer. And between his own desire for regular duty and the Senators' seeming willingness to part with his US $3.7-million annual salary, Gerber's pre-season performance could determine where his future lies.

"I really just want to get some ice time and get myself in as good a position as possible, to a spot where they have to put me in net and have to play me," Gerber said Wednesday, before backing off on what may have sounded like a threat. "Just try to help the team get better. That's all there is."

If only the situation were that simple for the Swiss goaltender and the Senators.

After last season ended with Ottawa's loss in the Stanley Cup final - a post-season run in which Gerber didn't play a minute - he reportedly asked for a trade, but general manager Bryan Murray was unable to move him and the two years left on his contract during the summer.

Currently, Gerber's an expensive insurance policy should Emery suffer any hiccups in his recovery from off-season surgery to repair torn cartilage in the wrist on his catching hand.

The Senators, said to be on the market for a forward, could use the salary-cap space freed up by moving Gerber bolster their lineup.

While Gerber said Wednesday his preference was to remain in Ottawa, he also didn't reject the notion of moving elsewhere still.

It's clear his goal is to not serve as Emery's understudy.

He made just 29 appearances last year after making 60 the previous season with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he eventually lost his No. 1 spot there, too, when Cam Ward emerged as the hero of the 'Canes Stanley Cup run in 2006.

In the off-season, while the Senators were avoiding arbitration with Emery by signing him to a three-year, US$9.5-million deal, they also inked Emery's personal goaltending consultant Eli Wilson to be the organization's goaltending coach u a move that has to make things even more uncomfortable for Gerber.

"Whatever happens, happens," Gerber said Wednesday when pressed about the notion of a trade. "That's probably going to be what's best for the team. What's that going to be, nobody knows.

"You want to play here. But for Ray, it's the same thing and it's out of my hands to decide what happens."

The situation should make for an interesting pre-season in a camp that otherwise has little competition for jobs.

Gerber made a strong start by recording a 52-save shutout in the Senators' exhibition opener, a 4-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at London, Ont., on Tuesday night and will start again Thursday when the Senators face the Washington Capitals at home.

By coincidence, Emery, who is still recovering from off-season surgery to fix torn cartilage in the wrist on his catching hand, returned to full practice Wednesday and coach John Paddock said Wednesday that he could be back in game action as early as next week.

"I like competition," Emery said. "I know he's a great goalie, so right now, I'm just kind of focused on my hand and getting my game underway, but I definitely think there will be a challenge there as far as playing time and who runs with it."

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