Simon ruling a hit with Alfie

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson (left) is pleased that Chris Simon of the Islanders was...

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson (left) is pleased that Chris Simon of the Islanders was suspended for at least 25 games. (Sun File/Blair Gable)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

NEW YORK -- Daniel Alfredsson has heard the talk.

There's no respect left among NHL players.

The evidence:

- Hits to the head -- though legal -- that render opponents unconscious.

- Late hits.

- Hits from behind.

- Now, stick swinging.

Alfredsson's got a message for those who think the NHL has become a dangerous place: It's a tough game. Players need to keep their heads up.

And sometimes things go sideways.

"I don't think there's a lack of respect, at all," said the Senators captain and a member of the National Hockey League Players Association interim executive committee.

"I think hits from behind have really gone down. I think in icing calls when there's a close race, the guy behind lets up pretty much every time, which wasn't always the case.

"I'm not worried when I'm on the ice that someone is going to do something stupid."

Alfredsson said he agreed with the NHL's decision to suspend New York Islanders forward Chris Simon for at least 25 games for his brutal slash to the face of New York Ranger Ryan Hollweg.

Maybe, said Alfredsson, this is an indication the stakes have been raised by the league for reckless behaviour.

"I was guessing between 20 and 30," said Alfredsson. "Just because of how reckless he was with his stick. The guy (Hollweg) was just defenceless. I thought they would make a ruling not based just on what happened to Hollweg -- he didn't get hurt -- but just on how vicious it was. It was pretty much the statement that they sent, that it won't be tolerated. It's a very good ruling on their part."

Alfredsson said it's not the players' job to police themselves on the ice and rejected the idea the NHLPA should address the issue of hits to the head.

He said he thinks the league is showing it can handle the job that the NHL has decided to turn up the heat on offenders.

"I think so. It's a hard call when you're talking about the hits made to heads. It's not elbows or sticks. It's been shoulders. One was maybe late. That's part of the game. Players have to keep their head up," he said.

"It's going to happen, (but) when someone really goes out and really tries to really injure someone when the other guy is defenceless, that has to be looked after."

Sens coach Bryan Murray said stick work can't be tolerated.

"I'm not the judgment guy here," he said. "When a player does that type of thing, he has to pay a severe price and I think Chris did. Use of the stick is totally unacceptable. I think the league did what they felt was right and I have to agree."

MORE HEAT: Senators W Dany Heatley is riding a 14-game point streak but there's no question he deserves notice for growing other parts of his game. When he was traded for Marian Hossa, a lot of people (and rightly so) thought Hossa was clearly the better all-round player. Now? Heatley has closed the gap considerably.

"I think he came here as a goal scorer and a very good hockey player and I think has changed to the point where now he is a very good all-round hockey player," said Murray. "Defensively, he works extremely hard, he can kill penalties for us. He continues to score goals, but I think he's more complete around the net, as well. He shot a lot of one-timers, fed off a lot of passes last year. He played really well for us, but I just think it's a notch up this year over what it was last year."

Heatley showed the type of player he can be when the Sens ran into a string of injuries around Christmas and he excelled without Jason Spezza setting the table for him.

"I think Dany's always a guy who pays attention to the game. I like that about him," said Murray. "He comes to work every day. He's concerned about his play and the team's play. He's the one guy who came over to me today about the power play and was asking questions. I really like that about him. That responsibility to help carry the hockey team really got him playing at a different level."

HEAR AND THERE: The Rangers, the Senators' opponents tonight, are an interesting case. They've scored just eight goals in their last five games -- none from their big guns -- and are 4-0-1. They are 5-0-2 in their last seven games. The names of the scorers: Former Sen Karel Rachunek (two); Petr Prucha (two), Paul Mara, Marek Malik, Matt Cullen and Sean Avery. Not a Jaromir Jagr or Marty Straka there. They've been getting it done with defence and goaltending. G Henrik "Hank" Lundqvist has given up more than two goals in a game only six times in his last 23 starts.


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