Cowick knows clock is ticking with Sens

Two weeks ago, Corey Cowick signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators. One way of looking at it is to say that gives him one more year to prove that he is a prospect. It’s probably not as black-and-white as that. But when you’re a 24-year-old, sixth-round draft choice (160th overall) who, after his first three seasons as a professional, has yet to play an NHL game, then it’s fair to say that the clock’s ticking.

Cowick knows clock is ticking with Sens

Two weeks ago, Corey Cowick signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators.

One way of looking at it is to say that gives him one more year to prove that he is a prospect.

It’s probably not as black-and-white as that.

But when you’re a 24-year-old, sixth-round draft choice (160th overall) who, after his first three seasons as a professional, has yet to play an NHL game, then it’s fair to say that the clock’s ticking.

But Cowick, who played minor hockey in Gloucester and finished his junior career with his hometown 67’s, has a history of being a slow bloomer.

He’s hoping the season he had last year in Binghamton — a career-high 16 goals and 19 assists in 72 regular-season games — is the catalyst he needs.

It’s a critical year, even if that’s a thought he’d like to avoid.

“I guess in the back of your mind, you have to think about it like that,” he said “But I just want to go out there and have fun and work as hard as I can.

“If I get an opportunity, I have to take advantage of it, but if the opportunity doesn’t come, then I have to make the best of the situation however it is.

“But in terms of thinking of it as a make-or-break year, that’s not the mentality I want to go into the season with, because then you might get caught holding your stick too tight or worrying about what’s going on elsewhere, instead of what’s going on between your ears.”

“It’s just another year to show what I can do.”

It didn’t even occur to anyone that Cowick might have the potential to play in the NHL until after his third season of junior hockey. He was passed over in each of his first two tries at the draft, in 2007 and 2008, before the Senators took a chance on him in 2009.

After two mediocre seasons in Oshawa, the 2008-09 season in Ottawa was his best as a junior. Playing periodically with Logan Couture, Cowick had 34 goals and 26 assists in 68 games.

There was a lot to like about him: He was a big (6-3, 205 pounds) two-way player who wasn’t afraid to bump into the boards.

So he was worth a pick. After his first two seasons in the minors, however, the Senators might have been rethinking that.

He spent those seasons shuttling between Binghamton and East Coast Hockey League Elmira, posting entirely underwhelming stats.

In his first year, he had one goal and three assists in 30 games for Binghamton, and five goals and nine assists in 31 games for Elmira.

The next year was marginally better: Five goals and six assists in 53 games with Binghamton, eight goals and five assists in 22 games with Elmira.

Part of the problem, he said, was that he and coach Kurt Kleinendorst were never able to get comfortable with each other. It happens. Coach sees the game one way, player sees it the other.

“It was tough,” said Cowick. “We had a lot of bodies down there, and I was kind of the odd-man out.

“It wasn’t his fault, it wasn’t really my fault. It was just circumstances. It was a bad situation.”

Enter Luke Richardson, for a 180-degree change in the relationship between coach and player.

Cowick was still on the fourth line last year (usually with his Binghamton roommate Jean-Gabriel Pageau, which helped) but Richardson began using him to kill penalties and pulled him into his office once a week to discuss improvements that would lead to more ice time.

At the end of the year, Cowick correctly predicted: “Luke is the reason I’m probably going to get another contract with the Ottawa Senators.”

Just knowing he had Richardson’s confidence meant everything to Cowick.

“I’m 24 years old now and I know when I make a mistake,” he said. “And I need to hear that. But it’s nice to have the ability to go out there and make up for it.

“That’s what Luke gave me. Yeah, he let me know when I made a mistake and that he wasn’t happy about it, but I got to out there and regain his trust, and that was a lot different than before.”

Heading into training camp, Cowick can do the math. He knows there’s maybe just one job open up front, barring any trades. He’s just got to be a little better than the next guy.

“In terms of playing for that last spot, there are a lot of guys who do a lot of things well,” he said. “But I think I do a LOT of things well. I can kind of change my game. I can bang if I need to bang, I’ve got a great shot, I can move my feet.

“I don’t think there are too many guys who can do all that as well as I can, and it gives me a little bit of an advantage, I think.

“I just want to prove as many people wrong as possible.”

ALFREDSSON BACK IN OTTAWA

After a vacation in his hometown of Gothenburg, former Ottawa Senator captain Daniel Alfredsson and his family arrived back in Ottawa on Monday.

He signed a contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 5, so the family will spent the next while getting ready for a move to Detroit.

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