|Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa January 5, 2011. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI AGENCY)
ATLANTA — The only cup Daniel Alfredsson is likely to get his hands on now is the one he pulls on before each practice and game.
The Senators captain has come to that realization, but remains determined to beat an injury that has zapped power from his right leg and return to the lineup — whether it be this season or next.
Alfredsson, who has missed the last nine games with a lower back injury, skated Sunday and Monday this week only to find out he’s not as close to donning his No. 11 again as he thought.
“It’s still getting aggravated,” Alfredsson said Tuesday morning. “I lose strength in my right leg. It goes back to back spasms, and the nerve gets involved, causing problems. I can skate and do some motions without a problem, but different positions puts me where I just lose power in the right leg.
“I’m still hoping, after taking some more time here (and) do some more tests next week, that I can come back. It’s not for sure, but my goal is to be back and play this year.”
Returning in 2010-11 is important to Alfredsson because he whole-heartedly intends to have a bounceback season in 2011-12. The 38-year-old Swede did lead the Senators in scoring at the time he came out of the lineup, but had just 14 goals and 31 points in 54 games, numbers well below his career average.
“Obviously, it’s been a very frustrating year, where I haven’t been as good as I should be,” said Alfredsson. “I’m not just blaming that on my back, but I just haven’t performed at a level I think I should, I haven’t been able to help the players around me be as good as they can be.
“I’m not 22, but I still feel like I’m in really good shape. On the ice, even on Sunday and Monday, straight ahead I’m fine. I can skate. I feel strong. I don’t feel my body is falling apart.
“I believe if I can come back and feel good, knowing where I stand going into the summer, that would mean a lot to me ... In terms of going through the whole training camp wondering if it’s going to come back or not.”
Alfredsson agrees with the direction in which owner Eugene Melnyk and GM Bryan Murray are now steering the team and remains adamant about wanting to finish his career as a Senator, saying he looks forward to the “different challenge” of setting an example on a younger team.
“We just haven’t performed well enough to justify us staying together and get ourselves out of this,” he said. “Eugene and Bryan had to make a decision. I think as hard as it is, it’s probably the right one going forward.
“If you look at all the other teams at the top now, where they were previously, the toughest thing is if a team is pretty good, but not really that good that you’re challenging, never get the chance to rebuild, you just try to fix one or two things here and there. It hasn’t worked for us.”
The hardest part, he said, was watching Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly get dealt.
“They had been here a long time, and through the good times,” he said. “We hoped we would have been able to win the championship together.
“I have such strong ties here, and I can’t see myself, even though I’d love to win the Stanley Cup, but not with another team.
“That’s probably the likely situation, with where I am,” he said, acknowledging the likelihood he’d finish his career without sipping from Lord Stanley’s mug. “I would love to do that, and I’m not totally ruling it out, but in the direction we’re going, I don’t see myself ... I would love to win the Stanley Cup, but not going to another team.”