OTTAWA - Bryan Murray and Jason Spezza don’t get a vote for who the two captains will be for the NHL all-star weekend.
But the Senators GM and centre wouldn’t hesitate for a second to give Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson the right to make the selections for one of the teams that will take the ice next month at Scotiabank Place.
Former NHLer Rob Blake, now working in the league’s hockey operations department, confirmed in an e-mail to the Sun the captains won’t be named until voting is complete Jan. 4.
Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Carolina’s Eric Staal filled the roles last year in Raleigh.
Spezza is urging people to cast their ballots for Alfredsson, who has been one of the Senators’ best players this season with 10 goals and 15 assists in 30 games.
“It would be nice,” Spezza said before the Christmas break. “They have a system in place, but if the fans could vote him in, it would be nice for him to be the captain.
“But the voting has to be done before that could happen. It would be a nice tribute to him and the career he’s had. If he’s in the game, he’s a natural choice and there’s absolutely no question that he should be.”
Murray agrees. At 39, this could be Alfredsson’s swan song at the all-star game whether he decides to play out the final year of his contract with the club next season.
“That would be nice for him,” said Murray. “I would hope that the league would think that would be a just reward for the local captain who has been a great player for a long time and who continues to be a great player.”
Alfredsson should be an easy choice.
Despite a 2-1 OT loss to Carolina on Friday, the Senators are in good spirits.
They collected points in four straight games and were sitting in a playoff position before going their separate ways for a couple of days of rest. The club will return from the Christmas break with a chance to make a serious run at the playoffs.
“We’ve shown what type of team we are and we’ve done better than expected,” said W Nick Foligno. “Now, the goal is to continue to get better and continue to prove people wrong and to continue being a good team.
“We have the ability to do that. It’s going to be a big push after the break and the guys are looking forward to it.”
The Senators had only one win in their first six games of the regular season and they’ve played well since then. Foligno said back-to-back 7-1 (Colorado) and 7-2 (Philadelphia) losses at home served as a wake-up call.
“We realized what we didn’t like about our game and we realized how far we were and what we had to change it quick,” said Foligno. “If you’re losing games 2-1 or 1-0, you think you’re not far off.
“We had to drastically change and we did. We put the work in. The coaches made us accountable and we made ourselves accountable. That’s the reason why we were able to turn it around and be successful. Now, we need to continue.”
MICHALEK ON THE MEND
W Milan Michalek (concussion) should be able to return to the lineup against the Habs on Tuesday.
Michalek passed his baseline test, which means he should be fully recovered from the concussion he suffered Dec. 13 in a collision with teammate Erik Karlsson.
“I don’t expect any issues unless Santa does something bad to him and Santa doesn’t usually do that sort of thing,” said Ottawa coach Paul MacLean.
The Senators sent callup F Mike Hoffman back to Binghamton on Christmas Eve.