Murray ready to shake up struggling Senators

If a bag skate at the end of practice Wednesday morning didn’t wake up the Ottawa Senators, their general manager openly musing about trading players should.

If a bag skate at the end of practice Wednesday morning didn’t wake up the Ottawa Senators, their general manager openly musing about trading players should.

Bryan Murray announced the team sent centre Zack Smith down to AHL Binghamton and called up David Hale to stabilize a jittery defence corps, adding he’s in talks with other managers about possible deals.

“It’s up to all of us (to improve things) — this is a team,” Murray said. “It’s not the coaches or players only, it’s me doing anything I can.

“I’ve talked to a number of people, as I said,” he went on. “I talked to (Minnesota Wild general manager) Chuck Fletcher for a long time yesterday and said, ‘can I help you, you help me’ type of thing, so we’re talking to management of other teams, trying to find if there is a need and a possibility of making a move.

“That’s not always the solution, but I think it’s something that maybe sends a little message to our players, so we will continue to pursue something.”

The Senators, touted by Murray as an Eastern Conference contender in the preseason, have limped out to a 1-4-1 start this season and currently sit 30th in the National Hockey League standings. They’ve also played more games than most of the teams ahead of them in the standings.

Losses alone aren’t the only reason for the disappointment surrounding this squad — it’s how the Senators are losing. They simply aren’t competitive most nights and only seem to put in a full effort when the games are already out of reach.

Maybe that’s why coach Cory Clouston closed practice by skating his players to exhaustion.

Murray said the biggest disappointment has been the team’s play on defence.

“I just think we turn the puck over in our own end and we haven’t battled defensively the way we should, the way we’re capable of doing in my opinion, and the result is we’re scrambling for the puck too often,” he explained.

Asked if it was a personnel issue or a work ethic issue, he chalked it up to a combination of both factors.

“I can’t say that one of our (defencemen) has played to where I thought they were going to be,” he said, calling on Chris Phillips to be better and pointing out youngster Erik Karlsson has struggled “big time.”

Murray also called the notion that his team is too old “bull,” despite the fact many of his key players are over 30 years of age.

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