|Free-agent signing Guillaume Latendresse hopes to bring some offensive punch to the Senators (Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images).
His mere presence at Scotiabank Place said plenty about the new hockey home that Guillaume Latendresse has chosen.
"This was a great fit to me," the 25-year-old native of Ste-Catherine, Que., told a group of assembled media after inking a one-year deal with the Senators earlier today. "It’s close to home and I had a few teams that I was pointing at, but I like the team in Ottawa and I want to see how it’s going to be. I hope I can have success here."
An unrestricted free agent, Latendresse made the short drive from his Montreal-area home to sign with the Senators. A former second-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens, the 6-2, 230-pound forward spent three seasons with the Habs before being dealt to the Wild on Nov. 23, 2009. He scored a career-high 27 goals that season — all but two of them coming after the trade — and believes he can bring that kind of offensive punch to Ottawa.
Latendresse is also confident he is past the injuries that limited him to 27 games over the last two seasons. He underwent hip surgery during the 2010-11 campaign, in which he saw action in just 11 games, while concussion issues cut his 2011-12 season to 16 games.
"I know what kind of player I am," said Latendresse, who will wear No. 73 ("my old midget AAA number") with the Senators. "I know what I can bring to the team and I think Ottawa was a really good fit for me. As far as my injury goes, I’m really 100 per cent now and if I can be the player I was when I first came to Minnesota, I think I can bring a lot to that team.
"I think everybody is real excited (about the signing) around here. I’m excited, I think the coaching staff and everybody is pretty happy about it and we’ll try to make the best out of it."
Senators general manager Bryan Murray believes Latendresse will be hungry to prove he can still be a significant contributor at the National Hockey League level.
"The thing I like is that (Latendresse and free-agent defence pickup Mike Lundin) have one-year contracts," said Murray. "It’s a great opportunity for them to showcase themselves and help us at the same time."
Added Latendresse: "If I look at top six, that could be good a (forward) spot for me. I think I’m an offensive guy and I can bring that, for sure."
A former hero in Montreal, he's also very much aware of the Senators' schedule already.
"Season opener at the Bell Centre?" he said with an eye toward the Oct. 11 matchup in Montreal against the Canadiens. "I looked at the calendar already. That’s going to be pretty exciting and it’s going to be pretty fun. The rivalry with those guys ... it's going to be great."