When I said the Ottawa Senators were entering a rebuild mode, little did I or anyone around the team think the first two players that were going to be moved would be Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly. But to get this franchise back to where it was over the last decade, tough decisions have to be made.
And from the look on the faces of Kelly and GM Bryan Murray Tuesday night, this was tough. Kelly seemed almost in shock, while Murray, you could tell, did not want to trade him.
“Well I just traded one of the good the guys, one of the most respected on this hockey team,” Murray said moments after a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. “These are difficult deals for someone like myself to make… but this is the way we have to go at this point.”
The Sens will receive the Bruins’ second round pick in the 2011 draft.
Kelly, a 30-year-old center, has one more year on his deal at just over $2 million. He was drafted in 1999 and spent a few years learning the pro game in the AHL before becoming a regular down the middle for Ottawa in 2005.
“It’s pretty tough to get traded, it’s my first time, but these things happen, especially the way things have gone here,” said Kelly moments after Murray addressed the media. “It was a quick kind of goodbye after the game as it hasn’t really hit me yet.”
When Fisher was moved to Nashville last week for a first round pick, it sent shock waves through the dressing room. Some were saying at the rink following the Fisher trade that there will be more moves, and moves that will strike at the core of this team. Most teams around the NHL are looking at the core players on Ottawa; who couldn’t use character players who can contribute offensively as they head to the playoffs?
“Two character people, two guys you respect,” Murray said when asked to describe his two trades over the last week. “That’s what other teams want and if you are going to make a deal, those types of players… they are the people people want.”
“To see a guy like Mike get traded who has been here for so long,” said Kelly, “really was an eye opener.”
Kelly is a player that will make others around him better, and one that guys enjoy playing with. That fact is probably a key reason Boston, and more importantly to its GM, Peter Chiarelli (a former assistant GM in Ottawa), who made the move to get Kelly.
“I had Pete Chiarelli here in Ottawa and I hope he knows what type of a player I am,” Kelly said. “I just spoke with Peter and he seemed excited and I told him I was excited to get an opportunity to play in the post season.”
The whispers around the rink have Chris Campoli and Chris Neil being sought after. Neither are UFA’s at the end of the year so any deal would have to make sense for the long term of the franchise.
The way things are going, three or four more players will be moved out of Ottawa by the trade deadline.