|Andy Sutton liked the look of his new Senators colours as he stretched following his first practice with the team earlier today at the Bell Sensplex. The big defenceman was acquired from the New York Islanders on Tuesday for a draft pick.
There was no wiping the smile off Andy Sutton's face on Wednesday morning.
The big blueliner with only four previous games of playoff experience on his resume clearly sees the opportunity for much more with the Ottawa Senators, who on Tuesday acquired the 6-6, 245-pounder from the New York Islanders for a second-round draft pick.
"It’s the most exciting part (of the move)," Sutton said after his first practice with his new teammates earlier today at the Bell Sensplex. "I’ll be 35 soon and I’ve played for some expansion teams and teams in rebuilding phases, so it’s a great opportunity to play for such a solid group like this."
Sutton found himself surrounded by a throng of media in the Senators dressing room, something that wasn't exactly part of his daily routine with the Islanders or his previous stops in Atlanta, Minnesota and San Jose. But the 12-year National Hockey League veteran admitted "it goes with the territory" when you suit up for a Canadian team.
"Probably early on in my career, I wouldn’t have been as ready for it but as you get older, you get a little more used to things and more comfortable with yourself," said Sutton, a native of nearby Kingston, Ont. "It’s kind of exciting, actually."
Senators head coach Cory Clouston surely agrees with that sentiment and he'll quickly insert Sutton into the lineup on Thursday night, when Ottawa faces off against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C. (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
"We’re excited," said Clouston. "He (has) a big body, he's a physical guy and real solid defensively. He’s got a real good shot and he’s very excited about being here. We’re not going to use him on the power play but he’s going to get a lot of minutes, quality minutes."
"You want to fit in and you want to get to know each of the guys. But you’ve just got to take it slow and give everybody a chance to see what kind of guy you are and build some relationships that way. This is already a great group and for me to come in here and be something I’m not wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do. I’m just going to focus on playing hard and moving the puck and doing my thing. I’m not going to try to be something I’m not." - Andy Sutton
Added captain Daniel Alfredsson
: "I like the move. I don’t know much about him except playing against him. He's a hard-nosed player, plays hard, blocks shots, hits and he's hard to play against. It’s a good addition for us and it gives us more help on the blue line, where we’re kind of short."
While Sutton was paired with another big bruiser in practice today — 6-4, 231-pound Matt Carkner
— that might not be the alignment against the Hurricanes. It greatly depends on the health of Filip Kuba
, who left Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers with a lower-body injury and is listed as doubtful in Raleigh.
Sutton's most immediate task is to find a quick fit with his new team. He's got a head start in that area, having previously played with Kuba (in Minnesota) and Senators forwards Shean Donovan (Atlanta) and Jarkko Ruutu (in college at Michigan Tech). He and Carkner, a Winchester native, were frequent summer workout partners in the past.
"You want to fit in and you want to get to know each of the guys," said Sutton. "But you’ve just got to take it slow and give everybody a chance to see what kind of guy you are and build some relationships that way.
"This is already a great group and for me to come in here and be something I’m not wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do. I’m just going to focus on playing hard and moving the puck and doing my thing. I’m not going to try to be something I’m not."Around the boards
Veteran defenceman Chris Phillips
didn't practise with the team today but Clouston said he should be good to go against the Hurricanes ... After Thursday's game in Raleigh, the Senators return home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). Fewer than 1,250 tickets are available.