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New-look Senators

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Henrik Zetterberg will play on a line with Pavel Datsyuk for the third straight game Wednesday. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- It will be an odd sight for everyone when Dion Phaneuf takes the ice for his first game with the Ottawa Senators tonight in Detroit.

Phaneuf, 30, the longtime Toronto Maple Leafs captain, was traded to Ottawa Tuesday and met with a large group of reporters after the Senators' morning skate at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday.

"There's a lot of thoughts that go through your mind when you get a call," Phaneuf said. "But after you digest everything, like I said, I've got nothing but good things to say and I wish everyone there all the best in Toronto but now I'm excited about this new part of my career. I'm excited to be a part of this team and that starts tonight."

Phaneuf repeated several times that he was "excited" and "proud" to be a Senator.

"Actually guys reached out yesterday, which means a lot, and guys this morning, it was really nice," Phaneuf said. "They were all very accepting and very welcoming. To a guy that comes into a new room, that means a lot."

For the Red Wings, the addition of Phaneuf changes the Senators, a team they have beaten two of three times this season.

"First and foremost we’re worried about our team," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Secondly, we’re worried about the way Ottawa plays and anything that causes us havoc and we can take advantage of. That’s more from a system standpoint. Having Dion Phaneuf won’t change either of those things. They’ve added a piece, a guy who’s been a real good player in this league for a long time. From the outside looking in, it makes them a better hockey team, but we knew it was going to be a challenge no matter what."

Last season, there were rumors that the Wings might try to acquire Phaneuf, something that never came to pass.

"There were some rumors last year but they didn't happen," Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "I guess now they found a way to make a trade. It's a lot of players going back and forth, probably the first really big one this year and probably going to be more."

Zetterberg has only ever played for the Wings but Phaneuf started his career with the Calgary Flames before being traded to the Maple Leafs.

"I think for a player, when you get traded, it's hard because you've been in one place for a long time and then you're all of a sudden playing for another team," Zetterberg said. "Those two teams are going to play against each other for many years here. So it's probably going to be a little awkward at first but it's part of our sport and you just got to get used to it."

D-BOSS POPULAR: Rookie Dylan Larkin isn't thrilled with all the attention he's getting from his Youtube video he made with his friend Evan Gizinski when they were 13, but he's taking it all in stride.

"It's funny," Larkin said. "It's a bit embarrassing watching it but I guess you just have to laugh it off."

Blashill said that being able to laugh at yourself is the best approach.

"That’s an important part of being comfortable in your own skin, which is the ultimate sign of maturity is being able to laugh at yourself a little bit and understanding we’ve all done different things in life and all of us, you have to be comfortable in your own skin and that’s one thing he’s good at," Blashill said. "I was happy there were no social media cameras when I was a teenager, when I was a college student, when I was a young adult."

Andreas Athanasiou, 21, has grown up in the social media era, so he knows all about making and posting videos.

One of Athanasiou involved a different sport than hockey.

"I was in grade eight, I was playing when our elementary school started a team there," Athanasiou said. "It’s like badminton, you have a high net and a balboa ball, like a volleyball but you can’t use your hands. It was a bit of a unique sport that I played and I actually went to a All-Canada championship with my team in Calgary."

Athanasiou said Larkin showed him the now-infamous video, in which Larkin calls himself "D-Boss" and his friend "EG Slayer."

"When you’re young obviously you do some funny things," Athanasiou said. "He’s 12 or 13 in that video so I don’t think he has anything to be embarrassed about. I think it’s pretty cool thing he’s got there."

Zetterberg said unequivocally that there were no "Z-Boss" videos hiding back in Sweden and he's happy social media didn't exist when he was 13.

"D-Boss is going around here in the locker room," Zetterberg said. "I think he was a little rattled when it came out at first but he's young, he was even younger when that video was made. I just keep telling him that it will work out in his favor in the long run."

EURO TWINS STILL TOGETHER: Blashill has honored the request that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk made to be kept together for at least a little while.

"With Hank and Pav it gives you a 1-2 punch up the middle that is a real important piece but we wanted to take a little bit of a chance like, in Ken Holland’s words, get 2 percent better," Blashill said. "By putting them together we hoped that synergy would create a little more offense and also have a real good No. 2 center in Brad Richards who can be accountable defensively."

While Justin Abdelkader has gotten the most time with those two on that line, other players, including Larkin, have also played with them.

"When Hank and Pav are together it's unbelievable to watch," Larkin said. "I try and learn from them. I try to not play without him, but maybe take charge of my own line I guess you could say. Try and carry the puck as much as I can and learn to be responsible defensively and find different ways to work with different players."

It's been pretty easy to return to playing with Datsyuk but Zetterberg knows that doesn't mean it's a permanent assignment.

"Me and Pav have been playing on the same team for many years," Zetterberg said. "Beginning of our careers we played a lot with each other. Last seven years haven't been that much. We're happy, we enjoy playing with each other. But in the same way, when we play with each other, we have to produce, too. Otherwise, we won't help our team."

In the last two games together, Datsyuk has two goals and two assists and Zetterberg has two assists.

GREEN'S STATUS UNCHANGED: Defenseman Mike Green, who missed Monday's game and will miss tonight's game because of a groin injury, skated during the team's optional morning skate.

"Still day to day," Blashill said. "It’s one of those things, it’s a groin, can feel the same for three weeks or it could start to progress and get better. Or it could get worse once he gets more activity going."

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