'Old' Alfredsson keepin' up with the kids

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:23 AM ET

OTTAWA - Friends can joke with Daniel Alfredsson that his favourite book must be The Old Man and The C.

The NHL’s longest-serving captain, since 1999, Alfredsson is now the sixth-oldest active player in the league. The only earlier birthdates belong to Dwayne Roloson, Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne, Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur.

Yet not only is Alfredsson able to play with the kids he has had with wife Birgitta — sons Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William Erik — but he’s also keeping up with all the youngsters on the Senators roster.

It looks like Alfredsson will be skating on a line with 18-year-old centre Mika Zibanejad, one spot on the depth chart behind 21-year-old right winger Nikita Filatov and sharing a dressing room again with the likes of Jared Cowen, 20, and fellow Swedes David Rundblad and Erik Karlsson, just 20 and 21, respectively.

To put things into perspective, Zibanejad was a tot of three when Alfredsson was handed the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

So yeah, when Alfredsson speaks, the kids listen, both at home and at his office.

“He’s played a lot of games over a number of years, and you don’t want to see a guy end on that note, for sure, so we were all pleasantly surprised and happy for him when he was able to come back from where he was,” said Chris Phillips. “He worked hard in the summer and he looks great.”

Phillips and Alfredsson have been Senators teammates since 1997. Their friendship is strong.

“It’s pretty cool,” Phillips said of growing up with Alfredsson. “On the ice for sure, and the stories of what we’ve been through in certain games, and travelling together, and off the ice with our kids growing up together, and playing minor hockey together. They played with each other last year and against each other this year, that’s fun and neat to have that sort of closeness basically when the game is all done.”

A couple of days before the season opener, it look like Alfredsson’s linemates Friday in Detroit will have a total of 24 games of NHL experience — all belonging to Colin Greening. Alfredsson’s total now stands at 1,056.

“I take it as a compliment when they do put you with players who don’t have as much experience,” said Alfredsson. “They depend on me to hold the fort, hold the line together, and make it work. I’ve been on a lot of different lines in my career, as long as you play well and win games it’s fun either way.”


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