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The Ottawa Senators do not find themselves in the same state of panic they were in just a year ago, with a team in freefall and a brand-new coach no one had ever heard of and of whom very little was expected.

But if a week is a long time in politics, a year is forever in sports.

The chippy little minor-league coach, Cory Clouston, turned out to be a real NHL head coach - even if star sniper Dany Heatley and he couldn't see eye to eye (and we're not talking height here).

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The Senators missed the playoffs; Heatley demanded, and got, his trade; and slowly the Senators climbed back to their old and familiar perch.

As of the event of trading day, they lead their division and are pretty much a shoo-in for the playoffs.

They shed the baggage, winger Jonathan Cheechoo, that came in the Heatley deal with San Jose, are happy with their 20 goals from Milan Michalek, who also came in the San Jose deal.

The second-round draft pick from the deal they used yesterday to pick up big shot-blocker Andy Sutton from the New York Islanders, who will add a bit of depth.

They'd love the trading deadline clichés - a puck -moving defenceman, secondary scoring from a forward - but since these essentially do not exist apart from the blogs of excitable boys, and since - at least until last night against the New York Rangers - they have found a goaltender, Brian Elliott, sitting on their own bench, there is no need for panic and perhaps even no need for any action beyond the small tweaking Sutton brings.

One rumour has them kicking the tires on Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Kurtis Foster; another rumour has them looking, again, at minor-league defenceman Brendan Bell, who played in Ottawa last year, but is now in the Columbus Blue Jackets system; and yet another trade rumour - you heard it here first! - has the Ottawa Senators doing next to nothing on this day that has become pretty much a television absurdity.

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About the Author

Roy MacGregor was born in the small village of Whitney, Ont., in 1948. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2002, he worked for the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, Maclean's magazine (three separate times), the Toronto Star and The Canadian Magazine. More

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