Surgery sidelines Alfie

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

OTTAWA -- The Senators will have to soldier on without their general.

As the players were preparing to practise yesterday, the coaching staff walked into the dressing room at 10:10 a.m. to announce that captain Daniel Alfredsson was having knee surgery and wouldn't play in tonight's home opener against the Detroit Red Wings.

It's not all bad news for the Senators. Mike Fisher makes his season debut tonight after missing the first two games with a groin injury.

Alfredsson, however, will be out 10-14 days after having a short procedure to repair a floating bone chip in his right knee.

J.P. Barry, Alfredsson's agent, didn't expect any complications.

"I'm sure the surgery went well," Barry said. "You take the piece (of bone) out now because it can cause inflammation and it can lock up the knee. They were just better to get it out before it causes any damage and you want to make sure that it is under control."

Alfredsson shouldn't miss more than three games, but the Senators were just 3-8-1 last season without him.

So coach Craig Hartsburg is challenging the Senators - now led by Dany Heatley, who will wear the captain's 'C' - to step up.

"Every team in this league is going to go through (injuries). You miss good players for games," said Hartsburg. "But that's the thing we've been talking about. We've been saying we need to be a team (but) we're going to miss Alfie.

"He's out of our lineup and we're a better team when he's in there. But it's a great opportunity for us to prove that this is different.

"This is a group that wants to take great pride in being a team and doing whatever it takes. It's an opportunity for some people to step up and do more.

"We don't need to change our plan, but this is a good challenge for us."

GM Bryan Murray said Alfredsson might have reaggravated an old injury when he was hit by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke in Sunday's 3-1 win in Stockholm.

Alfredsson could have waited to have surgery, but he and management decided it was best to get it done with only three games in the next 10 days.

"It's not a long-term thing," said Murray. "We were told we could probably go forward for a little while, but at some point, (the bone chip) should be removed. We thought this was the time. He'll be missing the (home) opener, but we're hoping that it won't be much more than that

"You try to suggest a time, but to be fair to him and the rest of the players, we'll take it as we're told and as he feels comfortable, but we're assured it's not more than a couple of weeks-type of thing."

With Alfredsson out and Fisher in, Hartsburg has been forced to shake up the lines. Jarkko Ruutu will take Alfredsson's place on the right side of Spezza and Heatley.

"If (Alfredsson's) banged up and he's not going to be in the lineup, then we just have to make do and whenever somebody is out of the lineup it's up to everybody else to step up to get the job done," said Spezza.

"(Ruutu) has been one of our best players the last couple of games and he's going to be ready to go.

"Hopefully, we can get the puck and we'll let him do his thing. He won't have to change too much."


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