They are bringing their Stanley Cup championship pedigree into a dressing room that thirsts for a big celebration of its own.
And both Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore, who hoisted hockey’s holy grail two years ago with the Carolina Hurricanes, have clearly arrived in Ottawa for a chance to sip from the Cup one more time.
The two Senators newcomers, who were acquired Monday from the ’Canes for defenceman Joe Corvo and forward Patrick Eaves, arrived at Scotiabank Place on Tuesday morning to join their new teammates. They’ll both suit up for the Senators tonight against the Buffalo Sabres (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
Stillman, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Hurricanes (2005-06) and Tampa Bay Lightning (2003-04), figures to slot in on a line with fellow Peterborough, Ont., native Mike Fisher. Head coach John Paddock indicated he’ll also see some power-play duty.
The 34-year-old forward had to waive a no-trade clause for Monday’s deal to go through. Stillman didn’t disagree when it was suggested he would have only lifted it for a move to Ottawa, a short drive from his hometown.
“You’d be dumb not to come to a team like this, to an organization that’s improving year after year,” he said. “Obviously, they made a step last year (to the Stanley Cup final) and they’re looking to make a bigger step this year.
“It is the right decision to come here. It’s an opportunity to play, an opportunity to win and I give (Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford) thanks for allowing me to do that. ... I wasn’t going to turn down this opportunity.”
The red-headed Commodore, who had his “coming-out party” during the Calgary Flames’ run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004, is “very excited” about the chance to take another run at the big prize in a Canadian market.
“I had a great time in Calgary. That was a great opportunity for me,” said Commodore, a 28-year-old from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. “I enjoyed the exposure, I enjoyed the attention that whole playoff run got. I’m looking forward to being back here and I’m glad to be home.”
While there was understandable sadness watching two teammates walk out the door for good on Monday, the Senators can also see the bigger picture. That bringing two experienced playoff hands into the mix can only help get them closer to their ultimate goal.
“There’s one goal and that’s to win,” said veteran Senators defenceman Wade Redden, who’ll partner with Commodore. “That’s been our objective and (Stillman and Commodore) are going to help us down the stretch, for sure.
“They’ve both been there before, and it’s going to be some (added) experience in the locker-room. You can never get enough of that.”
Added captain Daniel Alfredsson
: “It’s a good feeling. Obviously, when you lose two good friends, it’s never fun, but that’s part of the business. You (want to) put a team together that’s going to challenge for the Cup, and with the additions of Mike and Cory, we’re looking stronger, no question.”
Goaltender Martin Gerber, who played with both Stillman and Commodore with the Cup-winning ’Canes, knows the Senators have added some quality character to their roster.
“They’ll fit in well,” said Gerber. “They’re two great guys to have in the dressing room, that’s for sure.”
And both hope their championship experience can be a difference maker in the weeks and months ahead, as the drive toward the playoffs begins to heat up.
“The team here is obviously going through steps,” said Stillman. “They’ve made the playoffs, gone to the finals. You don’t have to say too much to these guys. They know what it takes to win, the battle you have to go through.
“I’m just a piece of that now, and if I have something to say that makes a difference, obviously I will say it.”
Said Commodore: “I did exactly what (the Senators) did last year in '04 in Calgary and I learned a lot from that. Yeah, I have won a Stanley Cup and Stillman’s won two, and I hope we can bring that knowledge in. But it’s not like we’re bringing it in to a bunch of guys who have no idea. These guys have been knocking on the door and have a very good team, so I think they’re going to have a good idea about what it takes.”Listen to new Senators Cory Stillman (mp3 file) and Mike Commodore (mp3 file) talk about their first day in Ottawa.