Senators notebook: Bishop’s Lalime link

If Patrick Lalime hadn’t played goal for the Ottawa Senators in that game so many years ago, maybe Big Ben Bishop wouldn’t be here now.

If Patrick Lalime hadn’t played goal for the Ottawa Senators in that game so many years ago, maybe Big Ben Bishop wouldn’t be here now.

“It’s kind of a funny story,” Bishop, a St. Louis native, said before making his home debut for the Senators Thursday against the New York Rangers. Bishop and his high school buddies regularly went to the St. Louis arena early and scalped “cheap” tickets before games, earning enough money to pay their way in.

“The Blues were playing the Senators and we went down to the glass and Lalime was playing. He used to wear his pads so loose and that’s where I got the idea to (wear) mine loose.”

Obviously, it worked.

For the longest time, Bishop was the pride of St. Louis – a hometown boy who worked his way up through the Blues system, even sporting an image of the old Checkerdome Arena on his mask – before being traded here.

Bishop, who wore the old St. Louis mask in his Senators debut Tuesday against the Tampa Bay, has since retired it. He sported a plain mask against the Rangers – he labelled it “White Lightning” — but a new Senators-theme mask is now being painted by an artist in Sweden.

Bishop remains a hot topic around the NHL. Even though Rangers coach John Tortorella wasn’t keen on talking about him Thursday, Rangers goaltender Martin Biron, who is rarely quiet on any subject, says Bishop is hard to miss.

“I know that if I ever got in a fight with him, I would try to stay with the low blows, I wouldn’t try to go up high,” said Biron, who at 6-2, gives away five inches to Bishop.

Biron, incidentally, had an intriguing equipment story of his own to tell Thursday. Most of his stuff is battered and bruised and his goalie skates could almost be considered antiques.

“I like to mix some new gear in, but my skates are from around 1995 or 1996, my first or second year of junior. They’ve been with me awhile. And these pants, they’re probably 10 years old. You’re catching me at a vulnerable moment.”

DON’T CALL HIM COLONEL: Rob Klinkhammer, who played his third game for the Senators on a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Kyle Turris Thursday, says he has heard his share of nicknames over the years. “Hammer, Stinkhammer, weird things, any variation on that,” he said. “Especially playing in the United States, a lot of people gravitate towards my name and like it. I’ve seen some weird signs in the stands sometimes, but I’m proud of my name.”

The most obvious nickname is Colonel Klink, referring to the character in the old TV series Hogan’s Heroes, but Klinkhammer says that’s taken by his father, a lineman in their hometown of Lethbridge.

In the big picture, Klinkhammer could care less what he’s called, especially if he remains on a line with Alfredsson.

“I was shocked, I walked into the dressing room on the first day and I saw the lineup and my eyes kind of popped out of my head,” he said. “Holy Cow. I was expecting to play five or six minutes. I have so much respect for a guy like Alfredsson. He’s the franchise, the captain and I’m just honoured to be able to play with him.”

Klinkhammer played 13:34 against Florida on Sunday and was on the ice for 14:31 on Tuesday against Tampa Bay.

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