|Senators centre Chris Kelly believes the addition of Sergei Gonchar should help the team continue the growth it showed during the 2009-10 season (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images).
Like many of his Ottawa Senators teammates, Chris Kelly is enthused about the prospect of finally having Sergei Gonchar
on his side.
The two players squared off three times in the last four Stanley Cup playoffs, with the highly-skilled Russian defenceman getting the better of the Senators in the first round of the 2008 and 2010 post-seasons. But that dynamic changed on July 1, when Gonchar signed a free-agent contract that will put him in an Ottawa jersey for the next three years.
Count Kelly among those welcoming that development.
"He skates so well and he moves the puck extremely well," the veteran Senators centre said in a radio interview earlier today on the Team 1200. "When you're forechecking, he knows where you are, so he can move laterally just as well as he can up and down (the ice).
"To have a guy like that on our side this year will definitely be a bonus."
With Gonchar now on board, Kelly likes the prospects of the Senators for the 2010-11 campaign and believes the talent is there to build on the success of the previous season.
"Picking up a guy like Gonchar is going to help the back end a lot," he said. "We know him fairly well, having played (against) him in the playoffs as many times as we have.
"We've got pretty much the majority of guys coming back, and if everyone can do a little better than we did last year, we should be in a great situation going into this season."
Kelly disputes any suggestion that the Senators might have overchieved last season.
"We've got a pretty deep forward lineup and we had six solid defencemen," he told the Team 1200. "Our goaltending was pretty good on most nights but there were some nights that, as a team, we didn't do any favours for them. By no means do I think we overachieved at all."Gonchar settling into new life in Ottawa
The next chapter of Sergei Gonchar
's hockey life is officially underway.
In a Friday Phone Call interview with ottawasenators.com, the team's big off-season addition said his family has begun settling into a new home in the nation's capital and will forego its annual summer trip home to Russia to spend more time getting used to life in Ottawa.
"We didn't travel to Russia this year as we usually do because of the move (and needing time) to find a house and all that stuff," said Gonchar. "We found a house and now we've moving in. The truck came and we're unloading everything and all that stuff, so we're pretty much here."
Gonchar is eager to hit the ice with his new team.
"I'm very excited about it because I've played against them for many years," he said. "I do believe this team is close to going far in the playoffs and maybe winning a Cup. Hopefully, with my addition, we'll be able to do so."