With a twist of irony, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson told the World Hockey Summit in Toronto Wednesday that NHLers should continue to play for their countries in the Olympics despite the risk of injury that could hurt the Stanley Cup chances of the teams that employ them.
Alfredsson, who had a sports hernia injury that worsened after he represented Sweden in the Vancouver Games, says he’s fully recovered from off-season surgery and has already been skating for 2½ weeks in preparation for the upcoming season.
“I see it as very important that NHL players keep going to the Olympics,” Alfredsson said on a conference call Wednesday morning. “It’s a great experience for an athlete, playing for your country, playing against the best players in the world on that kind of stage. It’s pretty amazing.
“Obviously, you understand the team’s concern about players being injured, but I think overall, it’s been pretty good throughout the four Olympics we’ve participated in.”
Alfredsson said it’s been “really insightful” to be a part of the Summit, and to “see the great will there is from people to really raise concerns and work towards a better game.”
Alfredsson laughed when it was pointed out that Monday also represented the only time in recent years he hasn’t been booed at the Air Canada Centre.
“I think the most positive thing here is that everybody’s willing to listen, and contribute as well,” he said.
Alfredsson, who will return to Ottawa next week, said he started skating earlier than normal in preparation for his 15th NHL season.
“Just to try it out and get on the ice a little bit more,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good, actually.”
He added that he’s optimistic Sergei Gonchar will be a strong addition to the club, and says the Senators have no pressing needs to address before camp starts.
“I think we’re pretty well stocked right now,” said Alfredsson. “We’ve just got to come together as quick as possible and hopefully get off to a good start.”