Cody Bass arrives at Scotiabank Place each and every morning, wondering if this will be the day he gets the word.
If head coach John Paddock will tell him it's time to head back to the Binghamton Senators and the American Hockey League.
More than two weeks later, though, the hard-working forward is still in the Senators’ lineup, doing what he can to extend his stay with the big club for another day.
“I can only go one day at a time,” Bass said with a grin after he avoided getting the ticket back to Binghamton – one he expected to receive on Thursday. “That’s the way I’m living right now. Coming to the rink today, I was wondering ‘am I getting sent back?’
“It keeps you on your toes, for sure. You know you can’t make any mistakes and you’ve got to stay focused. Just come in each day and work your (butt) off.”
Instead, it was fellow rookie forward Nick Foligno
heading south on Thursday morning. While the 20-year-old produced three goals during a more productive second stint in Ottawa this season, his ice time slipped to 5:12 during Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals.
Paddock said that’s simply not enough for a player he envisions being a key contributor in the future.
“He needs to play more minutes in more situations, and get ready as quick as he can to play somewhere in the first three lines on an NHL team,” said Paddock. “It’s about developing him to his most potential.”
Bass saw even less time against the Caps on Tuesday, but Paddock sees the gritty winger’s role in a different light.
“Cody provides energy and work, and he provides the ingredient we want on the fourth line,” Paddock said before the Senators headed off to Buffalo, where they’ll face the Sabres on Friday night (7:30 p.m., Sens TV, Team 1200).
Added Bass: “I play hard and I work hard. I’m not afraid to finish my checks and rough it up a little bit. That’s my game, that’s the way I play and I think that’s what they’re looking for from me.”
Bass surely hasn’t taken his time in Ottawa for granted. Let’s just say he packed lightly when first called up as an injury replacement for Mike Fisher for a Dec. 15 home game against the Atlanta Thrashers.
“I pretty much packed for about two days,” said Bass, who turns 21 on Monday. “What I expected was to go home the next day. I don’t even know how much time has gone by (since then)… It’s definitely been a lot longer than I expected.”
Bass was formally demoted to Binghamton on Dec. 28, but that was done to give him time to spend a couple of days with his ailing mother back in Owen Sound, Ont. He was grateful for the time at home, and is back making the most of an extended stay that is clearly a vote of confidence for what he’s brought to the Senators lineup.
“It shows I’m doing something right,” said Bass. “Hopefully, I can keep playing well and try to get myself into the lineup and stay in the lineup and go from there… you look around this dressing room, and there’s a lot of good players here.”
One of them, centre Jason Spezza
, was named Wednesday the NHL’s first star for December. He led all league scorers during that month with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 14 games.
“He had a great month, no question,” captain Daniel Alfredsson
said of Spezza. “It was fun to watch him. You could tell he was handling the puck with confidence.”
Paddock agreed his No. 1 centre had an “outstanding” December.
“Jason had a great month and he deserves (the honour),” he said.
Spezza pointed to the Senators’ 9-3-2 record during the month and said “you don’t win those awards unless the team wins a lot of games during that span.
“I had a nice month personally and it’s nice to get recognized for it.”