Money not what Alfie's all about

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Daniel Alfredsson may very well be the best all-around player in the NHL, but in collecting a salary of $4.338 million (all terms US), he'll be just the fourth-highest-paid Senator this season.

In 2008-09, he'll make more than he ever has ($5.465), yet, with linemates Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza set to earn $10 million and $8 million respectively, he'll be no better than the third-most handsomely rewarded Ottawa player.

And the three seasons after that, well, Alfredsson will probably fall down the team list even further. Each is an option year, based on the number of points he earns, but for each he's already committed to a $3.8-million stipend.

Now, the previous captain would be screaming for a renegotiated deal, right? Not Alfredsson, although recently, he admits to doing so in a whisper -- and with a smile on his face.

"I brought it up the other day, and (GM) Bryan (Murray) just laughed at me," Alfredsson said chuckling yesterday. "So I don't think it's going to happen soon. He didn't feel sorry for me."

Alfredsson will skate in his 800th NHL game tonight, an impressive mark made even more so by the fact they have all been with one team. Less than a month from his 35th birthday, he is playing better than ever. In 16 games he has 13 goals and 10 assists which, heading into last night's action, put him 10th in league scoring. He's a key member of the Ottawa power-play and penalty-killing units and is logging an average of 23:39 per game, more than any other player among the NHL's top 19 scorers.

What would the Senators do without him? Fans of the this team must hope they never find out.

"I think I will, but you never know," Alfredsson said when asked if he'll retire a Senator. "I'm not going to say that I have to do this and that ... it all depends on what happens. I don't have a no-trade clause, I could get traded in the future, who knows. There's a lot of factors I think that figure into it. We'll see what happens. I'll take it one year at a time and go from there."

As for the 800-game milestone, Alfredsson points out that he's no Luke Richardson. His teammate will be playing in game No. 1,354 tonight.

"I never thought about playing this many games when I came over (from Sweden), obviously, and it's nice to get up there," said Alfredsson. "I think (playing that long with one team) will probably be rarer as we go on in the cap world. I've been very fortunate to be able to be here throughout. It's been a lot of fun. Looking back the last 12 years, we've come a long way."

It's true. During a stretch of the nasty '90s, Alexei Yashin would almost annually pack up his gear and go home if the Senators didn't rip up his contract and give him more money -- and he was already the highest-paid player on the team.

The current wearer of the 'C' has a lot more character than that.

"I'm not going to renegotiate my deal," said Alfredsson, who shrugs at not being the highest-paid player in his dressing room. "That's the way it goes. There's a lot of facts that go into it. I signed before the lockout and took a 24% cut right away. I was part of the process, to do that deal. Both me and Billy Guerin thought about it, we both had just signed long-term deals ... you're going to lose a lot of money ... and that's a big part of it. You put another 24% more on my contract and it's not a bad deal at all.

"If I signed for Canadian dollars, I'd be even happier," he added, laughing.

But other than that, he has no regrets.

"Maybe Hugo will curse me for it one day," he said, referring to his first-born son. "But it doesn't bother me at all. If I knew I was going to play this way I probably wouldn't have signed a five-year deal, maybe. But that's the way it goes. When this deal is up, we'll see what happens."

Stand and give him a long ovation when it's announced that's he's playing in No. 800 tonight. Alfredsson deserves it, for what he has done and what he continues to do.

THIS AND THAT: Also hitting a milestone tonight is W Chris Neil, who will be playing in his 400th NHL game. "It's pretty exciting to be around as long as I have been," he said. "When you first come to the league, you're just happy to be here. Now that you're here and you've established yourself, to get to 400 games is an honour. Hopefully, I've got a lot more left in me." ... Neil quietly surpassed the 1,000 penalty-minute mark in his career Nov. 6. That number includes 75 scraps. "I'm all for it, any time there's a good melee out there, it's good to see," he said when the fight question was raised again. "Whether it's me in it or anyone else in it. You don't want to see anyone get hurt out there, but sometimes it happens. You just try to go out, give yourself the best opportunity to succeed in the fight, and hopefully you come out on top." ... Speaking of brawlers, former Senator/Sabres tough guy Rob Ray has written an autobiography titled Rayzor's Edge. It hits Buffalo bookstores later this month and, if it's nearly as entertaining as the man himself, will be a must-read.


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