OTTAWA – Marc Methot was feeling the need to be on the defensive entering Ottawa Senators training camp.
The 29-year-old Ottawa native is entering the final year of his contract, and negotiations between the defenceman and the Senators have taken an ugly turn.
Things began to unravel after Senators general manager Bryan Murray told TSN’s Bob McKenzie he’d trade Methot rather than lose him to free agency. Methot was then quoted saying: “It’s at the stage where I’m really not comfortable that the team wants to do anything (on a new deal).”
Methot’s agent, Larry Kelly, then revealed some of the contract terms that had allegedly been discussed, which the Senators disputed.
“We’ve always felt we want to keep Marc around, but you see stuff like this and you say, ‘Is it worth it?,'” assistant general manager Pierre Dorion said at the time.
Methot did his best to diffuse the situation Thursday, saying he remains committed to the Senators.
“It’s the business side of it and it’s not always pretty and it’s definitely a process and in terms of what’s to be expected and what not,” Methot said. “Obviously I’d like to get something done and anything related to the business is Larry’s (Kelly) job and not mine.
“Nothing changes for me. To be honest right now my whole thought process is just coming in here and working my tail off. That’s all I’m going to do is just work real hard and do my job.”
Methot said he has stopped reading the papers and listening to news reports in an effort to keep the situation from escalating.
“I’m just trying to keep my mind on the dressing room and trying to be as positive and normal around the guys because the less I expose myself to any of that outside noise the better I am for it.”
As a former player, Senators head coach Paul MacLean understands the situation Methot is in and doesn’t foresee it being a distraction.
“When Marc comes to the rink (Friday) for practice we’re going to make sure he’s ready to practice and comes on the ice and do what he does,” said MacLean. “It’s negotiations. It’s always about give and take.
“At the end of the day you have to feel it’s fair what you have and you’ve got to stand up for yourself and I don’t think anyone holds that against anybody in the game and right now he’s going through it. He happens to be the guy that’s going through it. How’s he handling it, I’m not going to evaluate that.”
MacLean will have plenty of other things to evaluate, as the Senators will have a number of new faces in the lineup when they take to the ice Friday.
New additions include David Legwand, Alex Chiasson, who was acquired through in the trade that sent former captain Jason Spezza to Dallas, and rookie Curtis Lazar who is expected to make a strong push to make the NHL team.
While Legwand will add depth down the middle, it’s Kyle Turris who will be expected to handle the responsibilities of the number-one centre.
The 25-year-old says he’s excited to take on the new challenge and feels he’s ready for it.
Turris took on the number-one role two years ago when Spezza was injured and says he learned a lot from the experience.
“I think I’m more prepared and have a better feel of what to expect and I’m more confident in myself,” Turris said. “I feel like I’ve improved in certain areas that will help me.”
MacLean said Turris has grown exponentially during his three years with the Senators.
“I think if he’s the same thing (as last year) we’re going to be happy with him,” MacLean said. “He’s also still young enough that his game can continue to grow, but if Kyle turns around and has the same year this year as he had last year we’re going to be happy.”
MacLean will also be doing his best to keep Bobby Ryan happy. The Senators would like to sign the 27-year-old to a long-term extension, but Ryan has stated he prefers seeing what kind of role he will have with the team before making any kind of commitment.
MacLean said he expects Ryan to take on some added responsibilities with Spezza gone.
“I think this is the natural growth of his game that he should come in and demand a bigger role and we should expect him to play a bigger role and that’s what we expect – we expect him to have a bigger role,” MacLean said. “Right now as we start out Bobby Ryan’s role on our team will be bigger and he’s going to be involved in the penalty killing part of the game, he’s going to be involved in the leadership part of the game.
“Now it’s up to him to go out and earn the extra ice time.”
Notes: The team will spend just one day in Ottawa before leaving for St. John’s, N.L., Friday evening for three days where they will have a full scrimmage and two split squad games against the New York Islanders.