by Todd Anderson
On Monday, The Ottawa Senators were still reeling in the wake of Saturday's elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Buffalo Sabres, but head coach Bryan Murray says he feels he still has the team to win a championship.
"I hope basically the same core is here (next season). We're fortunate to have the core and excitement the team brings. I hope that these guys will be able to stay here."
On Monday, Murray met with the players as a group and also individually. The coach expressed how proud he was to see his players, namely captain Daniel Alfredsson, react to adversity this season.
"There's no question, he's the guy here. He's tried so hard to be successful with the franchise. He's a real character guy. He's trying to take the burden of the team on himself, certainly too much of the burden. I learned what a classy and quality guy he is."
Alfredsson agrees with Murray that big changes are not necessary.
"I still believe that this team has a good chance at winning. Sure there's going to be changes, but they don't have to be wholesale. In this city people have a lot of high expectations and there's a lot of pressure on us because they believe in us. I've really grown attached to this city and I'm dedicated in bringing the Cup here."
As one of several players to make the jump from American Hockey League affiliate Binghamton Senators this season, Chris Kelly says having several teammates join him in the NHL for their first full season made the transition easier.
"We had eight or nine guys from Binghamton, I think that helped. Obviously, this isn't the way we wanted things to finish. But we've got to take the positives out of this season. We just have to continue to work hard and we'll have a good future."
One of several free agents this off-season, Zdeno Chara hopes to return to Ottawa in 2006-07.
"Obviously my first priority is to stay here and be a part of this team."