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Senators answer shots from Kaigorodov // The Ottawa Citizen
Alexei Kaigorodov took aim at the Senators' GM and coaches in a Russian newspaper article.
PHILADELPHIA - Alexei Kaigorodov has now razed whatever remnants were left of the bridges he burned when he refused to report to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League.
In an article that appeared in a Moscow newspaper, Sport Express, two weeks ago, he thoroughly carved up general manager John Muckler, head coach Bryan Murray, and Senators assistant coaches Greg Carvel and John Paddock.
Among his complaints: There was no communication with the coaching staff. Muckler didn't give him a chance. The coaches trust the players with the higher salaries. Muckler deceived him about the possibility of being sent to the minors.
Now suspended from the Senators from not reporting to Binghamton, Kaigorodov will never play in an Ottawa uniform again. Muckler said he would gladly trade him if someone wanted him. Otherwise, the Senators are going to play hardball. Kaigorodov won't play in the NHL again until he becomes a free agent at age 27. That's four years from now.
Muckler said although Kaigorodov does have skill, it was disappointing he decided not to report to Binghamton. Muckler figured Kaigorodov would have made it back to the NHL in a matter of months.
"He never gave himself a chance," Muckler said. "It was unfair to Bryan what he said. The coach did the proper thing."
The Ottawa coaching staff saw the article two weeks ago when it first appeared, but their anger hadn't waned yesterday.
Both Paddock and Carvel talked to Kaigorodov repeatedly about what he had to do to improve his game. In addition, Carvel, who was fuming over Kaigorodov's comments, spent hours watching video with him.
Murray said he went out of his way to give Kaigorodov a chance, even at the expense of some players who were better in training camp. But it finally got to the point where he couldn't justify keeping Kaigorodov. He just wasn't good enough to play in the NHL.
"We gave him a chance, we gave him some time early," Murray said.
"We saw him play, and I had to make a judgment whether we keep Dean McAmmond, Kaigorodov or Denis Hamel or Brian McGrattan. When (Muckler) asked me, I said, 'I don't see where he's going to contribute to this team right now.'
"He's smart, skilful, small and afraid, and that combination kind of leaves you wanting when you come into a building like this. If I had to play him next to (Peter) Forsberg (last night), I'd have a problem. ...
"All I know, and all we tried to do here, was be open-minded and really try to give him a chance to play. I watched game after game -- mainly for him, practice after practice -- and nothing changed."
Spezza Gets the Message
Murray has otherwise had his hands full trying to coax an all-around game out of centre Jason Spezza.
Against Minnesota on Monday, Spezza saw his ice time cut in the third period (and overall by almost five minutes) as Murray opted to use the more defensively sound Dean McAmmond.
Murray said he has talked to Spezza about the need to play every part of the game.
"I just want him to find a way to play in all types of situations," Murray said yesterday.
"When the legs are good, we know he's going to be spectacular. When the legs just aren't there on a given night, (he has to) find a way to play in the game. Work hard, support your linemates, come back and get the puck out of trouble. Be available for a pass so we can chip it out of the zone. That's all."
Emery Wearing a Bull's Eye?
Everyone in the league knows goaltender Ray Emery is playing with a sprained left wrist that isn't completely healed. But Murray isn't worried that other teams will target his goalie. Or at least he's saying he isn't.
"Everybody knows that, over the course of a year, players in this league are bumped up and bruised, and you can attack them if you feel that you want to," Murray said. "I think Ray is fine. We gave him the day off (on Tuesday). He was a little tender. He took a couple of shots (in practice yesterday).
''Our guys are not very considerate in practice. They just blast the puck. But I think he's fine and it's not anything abnormal now. He has got a little tenderness there, but that's all."
Besides, if anything happens, "Martin Gerber is looking like he could go in and be a good goaltender now," said Murray.
For his part, Emery isn't worried, either. The injury, he said, wasn't caused from a blow. It was caused from a twist in the wrong direction.
"It's not like a chop would hurt it," he said. "So, no, I'm not (worried). Not unless someone grabs my arm and twists it."