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Conacher Speaks!

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

The day was certainly slow to get going but once it started it didn't stop. The Sens, in many ways, opened the flood gates to Deadline Day 2013 with their acquisition of Cory Conacher from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for goaltender Ben Bishop.

The Conacher pickup raised many eyebrows across the NHL as the Sens swooped in and picked up a player many didn't expect to be moved today. He has been in the Calder Trophy discussion amongst names like Jonathan Huberdeau in Florida and Brendan Gallagher in Montreal.

The move caught Conacher off guard as well. While he figured there would be changes in the landscape in Tampa Bay, he didn't necessarily expect it to be him.

"It definitely was a little bit of a surprise. I was surprised it was me but I knew something had to happen, one of the young guys was going to be the one that was going to be traded," said Conacher. "It's tough leaving Tampa Bay but I look at the positives and I think there are a lot more positives than there are negatives."

The good news is unlike many other players who were swapped today, there shouldn't be an issue for the Sens in incorporating Conacher into their lineup. He will fly to Boston tonight to join the team and hop on the ice for his first practice tomorrow.

The change in scenery, while exciting, will be short-lived for the 23 year old. The Sens are back in Tampa Bay to take on Bishop and the Bolts next week.

"I'm looking forward to playing in Ottawa, I'm excited to meet the new team and I leave tonight for Boston to go see those guys and practice tomorrow," said Conacher. "I get right back into it, I'm not missing much and we come back to Tampa in a couple of days which is kind of neat and it'll be fun to play against them."

Some have been quick to note that Conacher's production has cooled off as of late after he got off to a blistering start to begin this season. In many ways though, he has just been an indicator of Tampa Bay's play at-large after the injury bug has worked its way through the Lightning.

If there's one thing Sens fans could understand, it's a rash of injuries taking a chunk out of offensive output.

"There's probably a couple things, there are so many injuries, the start we had was such a great start, goals came easy, we had a lot of power plays. Now that we had more injuries lines are getting switched up, guys are getting called up, sent down, it's a little hectic and it's tough to get in a groove when guys are getting injured like that when there are teams getting better and used to their systems a little more."

Conacher's overall style of play should endear itself to Sens faithful who have embraced the "Pesky Sens" persona this team has adopted. In many ways, his style is about as pesky as they come as a smaller player who has no issues crashing the crease or digging in the corners.

His size forces him to work harder around the ice and that approach should fit right into the Sens' style of play.

"I'm a guy who likes to be first on the puck and in the corners and dig for loose pucks and create turnovers and finish checks and skate hard and back check hard and be responsible on the ice. That's kind of what I'm working on right now," said Conacher. "I think Ottawa is a team that's working on a lot of those things and they have a lot of players who do those things which will be a good fit for me and I'm excited to play with some of the guys that are there."

With Conacher joining the Sens on the road for the remaining six games of this seven game road trip, it'll be a while before the Scotiabank Place crowd gets to welcome him home. The experience as a whole, however, will still be exciting. Growing up in Burlington and cheering for nearby rival Toronto at the height of the Battle of Ontario has given him plenty of experience with the Sens.

While playing in Florida was a positive experience for him, returning to Ontario after playing in Florida will be a welcome homecoming for both Conacher and his family, especially with the Sens poised for a run at the playoffs in 2013.

"I've got a lot of messages from friends and family from the area and they're all very excited and I'm very excited," said Conacher. "Obviously the market is a little bigger in Ottawa than it is in Tampa so it's going to be interesting for me to experience, and I'm excited for the opportunity to play in Ottawa. I've already been in contact with management from Ottawa and I've had good chats with them."

It may be an anxious bit of a wait before Friday's puck drop in Buffalo, but Conacher's clearly on board with the plan.

"I'm excited to meet everyone, it's going to be a good thing for me and I can't wait to go there and further my career and hopefully have a nice little playoff run this year.”

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