Alfie wants new Games agreement

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Daniel Alfredsson won't be going AWOL on the Senators in 2014 to play for Sweden at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Of course, the Senators captain will be 41 when those Games roll around, so he's not even sure if he'll still be playing. But if we assume he is, Alfredsson said he would have a tough time doing so without an agreement between the NHL and NHLPA.

Russian stars Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals and Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins have both stated they will leave the NHL in February 2014 to play for their homeland at the Olympics regardless of whether there's an agreement.

"As an athlete, there's no bigger thing than the Olympics," said Alfredsson, who will turn 37 in December. "If it's my choice, of course I would play. I don't know if I would go as far as (to say) I'm going to play regardless, because I think there's a lot of factors that comes into it.

"The NHL pays our salaries and they're a big part of everything we do. Hopefully, we can reach a deal where we can keep participating. Obviously for a hockey player, the Olympics is a dream and especially if it's being held in your country."

Alfredsson said the two sides have plenty of time to strike a deal.

"I'm not worried about it. That's a long time away and a lot can happen before that, so we'll see how it unfolds," said Alfredsson. "It's negotiating. The league is going to say it disrupts their schedule and they lost a lot of money on it. I think it's great (public relations) and you can win a lot of fans. It's been a great experience for both sides. We'll see what happens, but I hope NHL players will keep participating."

Alfredsson, who won gold with Sweden in 2006 in Turin, believes the Vancouver Games will be his final Olympics.

"I have a tough time saying I'm going to play another one after this -- and that's if I'm part of this one. I think this is my last chance," said Alfredsson.

Still searching

RW Alexei Kovalev looked like he had some chemistry playing on a line with C Jason Spezza and LW Milan Michalek in Monday's 3-1 victory over the Lightning in Regina, but the Russian doesn't necessarily think those two will be his linemates when the regular season begins. "I'm sure I'm probably going to play on a different line," said Kovalev, who tipped a feed from Spezza by Tampa G Antero Niittymaki in the second period that turned out to be the game-winning goal. "At least we know, in important situations we can play together. Like I said, I'm just trying to get a read of (Spezza) and the way he plays. He likes to control the puck and play mostly in the offensive zone and neutral zone. You just try to get open and give him support so he doesn't have to take all the job on his shoulders. I thought we played pretty well."

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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