Age is not a factor for Alfredsson

DON BRENNAN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:32 PM ET

Like just about everyone else, Mike Fisher found it hard to believe Daniel Alfredsson turned 37 yesterday.

“Really?” said a straight-faced Fisher. “I thought he was older.”

(Imagine, if he wasn’t busy carrying the Olympic torch last night, Fisher could have stayed at Scotiabank Place and opened for funny man Dane Cook).

“He’s still got it,” Fisher continued, on a more serious note. “I don’t know what they’re doing in Sweden, but they’re doing something right.”

Teammates of 39-year old Detroit Red Wing Niklas Lidstrom would agree.

Like the perennial Norris Trophy contender, Alfredsson’s play remains strong. Through 30 games, he leads the Senators in scoring, with 28 points on nine goals and 19 assists.

A key member on the power play and penalty killing units, Alfredsson is the only Senators forward averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time per game.

He’s also the oldest player on the team.

“He’s a warrior,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston. “He’s everything you want your team to be. He plays injured, he works hard, he’s a very intelligent guy. A real good teammate. Great to have on your team.

“It’s a lot different than it was in the past. (Players) take a lot better care of their bodies. Look after themselves on the road a lot better. Their offseason training allows their careers to be longer. In the past, once you get to 30 ... it was the magic number. Any year after 30 was kind of a bonus. Now you see guys play late 30s, early 40s.

"Alfie takes care of himself, he obviously has some bumps and bruises. Looks after himself as well or better than anybody on our team. That’s what allows him to have a lot of success.”

It’s not uncommon for Alfredsson to skip practice for a “maintenance” day. Clouston said he doesn’t spend them at a spa.

“I don’t think you guys realize what he does with those off days,” said Clouston. “I will come in here on a Sunday night, and in through the door comes Alfie, coming in for a bike ride. He always makes sure his conditioning is as high as possible. Every day is a work day for him.”

Alfredsson’s birthday began with his three sons bringing him gifts and singing to him when he woke. Later in the day his intentions were to do some Christmas shopping, then celebrate with the family later.

But other than that, he said it was just another day.

“I don’t feel 37,” said Alfredsson, the oldest player on the Senators. “Being around all young guys all the time keeps things light hearted. Now, I have a family, three kids and it makes it easier to put the game in perspective as well. But being able to come into the locker room every day, (where the players are) so enthusiastic and so naive at the same time ... it’s a lot of fun.”

“Some times I do (feel older), especially when Erik (Karlsson) came in and lived with me for a while,” he added, referring fellow Swede. “He was five years old when I came over here. My (oldest) son is 6.”

Alfredsson best season statistically was 2005-06, when he scored 43 goals and added 60 assists for 103 points. He hit the 40 goal plateau again two seasons ago, and had a team-leading 74 points in 79 games as the Senators as a team had a bad 2008-09.

Alfredsson was asked if he thinks he’s as good now as he has ever been.

“Yes and no,” he said. “I think I’m obviously a more experienced and a smarter player than I have been. The biggest thing is physically, if I can feel like I can play an energetic kind of game. I like to forecheck, I like to skate a lot. Once your body tells you you are slowing down and you don’t feel like you have that energy, day in and day out, that’s when it will become frustrating.”

As for now, he’s reaping the benefits of a strong workout program he had when he was young.

“It has given me a good base I can live off,” he said. “It’s why I can play an energetic style, both on the penalty kill and power play, and keep up. Conditioning is a big thing.”

Alfredsson, meanwhile, how no thoughts of retirement.

“I see myself going as long as my body allows me, pretty much,” he said. “I can’t say I have any sign right now that is going to be soon. Who knows what’s going to happen?

“I’m going to keep playing as long as I can.”


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