Training Camp Notebook: Players react to Melnyk, Ceci and Noesen receive confidence boost and more

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has never afraid of making bold statements, but captain Daniel Alfredsson was trying to backpedal from a couple of the owner’s comments Sunday.

Ottawa Senators team captain Daniel Alfredsson, right, takes part in a news conference Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in Ottawa on Sunday, January 13, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

PLAYERS PLAY DOWN MELNYK COMMENTS: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has never been afraid of making bold statements, but captain Daniel Alfredsson was backpedalling from a couple of the owner’s comments Sunday.

During his morning welcome back press conference, Melnyk suggested that “many players believed we were a much better team than the team that won (the Stanley Cup)”

Asked about that several hours later, Alfredsson paused for a few seconds before trying to distance himself from the words about being on a par with the Los Angeles Kings.

“I don’t think we’re there yet, but we do like where we are,” he said. “We like our personnel. This group is going to go out there and work hard for each other.”

As for Melnyk’s suggestions that the Senators are “in fact a quiet, quiet favourite, but we want to be positioned as an underdog,” Alfredsson again tried to stickhandle away from the comments. In his mind, establishing consistency is important.

“First things first for us,” he said. “Our focus is short term, to have a good camp and get ready to start. We showed last year that we can play with the best, but we also showed that when we’re not at our best, we can lose to anybody, too.”

Jason Spezza, meanwhile, was pleased that Melnyk thinks so highly of the team, but he wasn’t ready to get ahead of himself, either.

“I’m happy our owner believes in us and thinks we have a chance,” he said. “I feel we made strides as a group last year. We just hope to get better. I don’t know if that makes us a contender.”

 

CECI, NOESEN IN CAMP AS CONFIDENCE BOOST: Senators coach Paul MacLean says there’s little chance that either defencemen Cody Ceci or winger Stefan Noesen will make the NHL team this season and will likely be returned to their junior clubs next week.

However, MacLean says being part of the 27-player camp is important for their development.

“Since we drafted (Ceci), he has gone through an awful lot and not all of it has been positive,” said MacLean, referring to a season which has included a dreadful start by the Ottawa 67′s, the trading of Ceci to Owen Sound and the fact he didn’t make the Canadian world junior team. “Having him here gives him an opportunity for the coaching staff to provide some input to his game, going forward. The same with Noesen. We’re giving him an opportunity to show us how he can potentially help our team (in the future).”

Noesen hasn’t played a competitive game in a month, due to a 10-game suspension he received in December, while playing for Plymouth. The suspension also cost Noesen a chance to represent the United States at the world juniors.

“I was cheering for the guys the whole time and really happy they won gold,” said Noesen.

NO EVENING SCRIMMAGES: While there was originally some thought that the Senators would hold evening scrimmages during training camp this week, MacLean says the team is now going to focus solely on a noon practice on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday before leaving for Winnipeg. The entire team will greet season ticket holders at a Wednesday event.

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