Whether you’re a grizzled veteran or a wide-eyed rookie filled with the biggest of hopes, the news is never easy to digest.
So it was that five players trudged out the doors of Scotiabank Place on Monday morning wearing a clear look of disappointment after getting the word that they won’t be starting the season with the Ottawa Senators. Instead, defenceman Brian Lee and Lawrence Nycholat, and forwards Denis Hamel, Alexander Nikulin and Ilja Zubov
are headed south to join the Sens’ American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. Nycholat must first clear waivers on Tuesday at noon before his move is complete.
For Lee, the Senators’ top pick in the 2005 entry draft, the end of his first National Hockey League training camp wasn’t easy to take. But it was tempered by the thought he’d competed well against what he called “an all-star lineup” of Sens blueliners.
“I don’t really have any regrets. I came and worked hard,” said Lee, 20. “I feel like I played pretty well when I was here. Hopefully, they’ll be able to call me up if somebody gets hurt or something like that.
“I just have to go and work hard in the American League and see what happens.”
When the B-Sens face the Albany River Rats on Saturday, it’ll mark Game 1 of Lee’s professional career. That thought brought a smile to his face.
“I’m real excited about playing games that actually count and getting going,” he said.
The Senators, meanwhile, will start the season with a 22-man roster. Making the cut out of camp were rookie left-winger Nick Foligno
, who produced eight points in seven pre-season games, and veteran defenceman Luke Richardson. Goaltender Brian Elliott is being kept with the big club until injured starter Ray Emery is ready for game action.
has done enough to stay here, but it doesn't mean he's made the team on a permanent basis," said head coach John Paddock. "He's just got to continue to do what he's done and force us to keep him here, no matter what. He's going to get a good opportunity and it's going to be up to him to maintain it."
The 22nd spot on the roster is occupied by forward Dean McAmmond, who is still suffering from concussion symptoms in the wake of a head blow he took from Philadelphia Flyers winger Steve Downie last week.
Three players who suffered injuries during training camp – defenceman Matt Carkner
(hand), and forwards Niko Dimitrakos (hip) and Josh Hennessy (shoulder) – also remain in Ottawa for the time being.
The Senators open their 15th NHL season Wednesday night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. Fewer than 300 tickets remain for Ottawa’s home-opener on Thursday at Scotiabank Place, also against the Leafs.