|Senators defenceman Chris Campoli grew up cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs but he's happy to be on the other side of their rivalry now (Photo by Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images).
Chris Campoli admits he's guilty as charged.
The Senators defenceman spent many a night cheering for Ottawa's bitter provincial rival while growing up in Mississauga, Ont.. But he'll happily take up arms against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the latest installment of the Battle of Ontario on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
As he spoke about it all earlier today, Campoli showed he already owns a clear sense of the intensity of the rivalry between the teams.
"I'm guilty of growing up as a Leafs fan," he said with a sheepish grin and tone that indicated Campoli knows exactly how that sentiment is received among the Sens Army. "As a young kid growing up in Mississauga, yeah, there were many times when I was cheering for the blue and white. But I'm happy to be on the other side now, to be honest."
Then again, Campoli has been all smiles since Friday, when the Senators acquired him and Mike Comrie in a trade with the New York Islanders, who are entrenched in the basement in the Eastern Conference. Not that he expects his arrival in Ottawa to change the sentiments of some of his friends back home.
"They probably will cheer for Toronto," said Campoli, 24. "My brothers (Anthony, 22, and Michael, 19) grew up as Leafs fans. My little brother is a big Leaf fan but apparently, he was the first one to buy an Ottawa Senators hat when I got traded. So they're pretty proud.
"But I'm here and it's a good situation for me. Not too many guys get to play in this league and have their family so close. Just a drive away and (my parents) can watch their son play in the NHL, so it's really good. I couldn't be in a better place or have a better opportunity and I'm grateful for the chance."
Campoli has collected four assists in three games since joining the Senators, producing the type of offence from the back end that Senators general manager Bryan Murray was seeking when he engineered the trade with the Isles. Head coach Cory Clouston likes what the 6-0, 190-pound Campoli has brought to his blue-line brigade so far.
"It's a good situation for me. Not too many guys get to play in this league and have their family so close. Just a drive away and (my parents) can watch their son play in the NHL, so it's really good. I couldn't be in a better place or have a better opportunity and I'm grateful for the chance." - Chris Campoli
"He competes," said Clouston. "(Campoli) is not a big guy but he gets into those (high-traffic) areas and he uses his assets, which are his skating and his puck movement. He gets his shot to the net fairly well. He's pointed in the right direction and he should definitely help us out, not only this year but looking down the road for the future as well."
The Senators, meanwhile, are hoping to build off the effort they displayed in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. Ottawa was more than a match for the National Hockey League's top team for most of the evening, with a pair of power-play goals by the Sharks in the second period deciding the affair.
They'll need to maintain a similar level of intensity against a Leafs team that is coming off back-to-back shootout victories over the New York Rangers and Islanders.
"We can't have an emotional letdown," said Clouston. "We've got to make sure we maintain our level and Toronto is playing very well. We've got to make sure that we continue to move in the right direction. Are we going to win every night? We're not going to. But what we're going to do is keep improving and keep moving forward.
"If we can get that effort (Saturday) night, we definitely like our chances. It doesn't matter who we're playing... we like our chances when we play that way every night."Alfredsson playing for a cause
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
is among 25 NHL players making donations to Right To Play based on minutes played in a game this weekend. The donations are being made on behalf of a coach or role model who has instilled the positive values of sport in them and helped them succeed in hockey and in life. Alfredsson, a Right To Play Athlete Ambassador, has chosen his father, Hasse, as his role model.
Funds raised will be used to support Right To Play's sport and play programs in 23 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. More than 600,000 children benefit from Right To Play activities each week.
Fans can also make donations by logging on to www.righttoplay.com
Around the boards
Goaltender Martin Gerber cleared re-entry waivers earlier today and has been recalled by the Senators, in accordance with NHL rules. To clear a roster spot, Ottawa assigned defenceman Brian Lee to its American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. ... Forward Christoph Schubert tweaked a groin during practice Thursday and was held out of today's on-ice session. "We're going to err on the safe side," said Clouston. "He didn't skate today but he should be okay by tomorrow." ... In their last five games, the Leafs have split four shootout results and edged the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime.Saturday update
Clouston has named Brian Elliott (7-4-2) as his starter in goal against the Leafs ... Blueliner Alexandre Picard returns to the lineup, while Brendan Bell is a healthy scratch ... Gerber has been re-assigned to Binghamton ... Fewer than 300 tickets remain for the game.