Senators doing it for dads

Senators forwad Daniel Alfredsson (second left) celebrates his goal against the Oilers with...

Senators forwad Daniel Alfredsson (second left) celebrates his goal against the Oilers with teammates at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Feb. 11, 2012. (DARREN BROWN/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 PM ET

OTTAWA - Nine months from his 40th birthday and with an long list of personal accomplishments, Daniel Alfredsson is still like a kid when a particular person is in the stands.

As he did growing up playing minor hockey in Gothenburg, Sweden, he tries to put on a show for his dad.

“You couldn’t tell?” the Senators captain asked with a chuckle after a strong performance in a point-salvaging 4-3 loss Saturday to the Edmonton Oilers before a crowd that included Hasse Alfredsson at Scotiabank Place. “It’s not always going to happen, but I think everybody wants to show off for their dads, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change. Your old man is your old man. He’s not going to be impressed with too much. You’ve got to make sure you do something extra.”

Alfredsson is like every other player in that sense, which means he and his teammates should have an extra hop in their step for back-to-back games against Tampa and Florida this week. In what has become an annual tradition, they will be accompanied on the trip to the Sunshine State by their dads.

That means they’ll travel, room, eat and spend plenty of quality with the men who very much helped them get to the NHL.

“It’s a great thrill for them and it’s a great thrill for us, with a lot of changes the last few years,” said Alfredsson. “You meet a lot of different dads, and hang out, mingle and get to know each other better. You kind of expand the whole family in the locker room, to the extended family. It’s something we really look forward to, and something I know the dads are exuberant about.

“I know my dad couldn’t wait for this moment, and going on another trip, even though he’s done a few before.”

There was no such thing as a “fathers trip” when coach Paul MacLean played, because teams travelled on commercial flights.

“I had a couple of dads sitting beside me going into Winnipeg once, but it wasn’t much,” he joked. “I think it’s positive. I think any time you spend some time with your dad or mom and show them the situation you’re working in, in your work place, especially the notoriety we get playing in the NHL, a lot of parents are real proud — dads are real proud that their sons are playing in the NHL.

“They don’t always get to see the daily grind of it, they actually get to see how Groundhog Day-ish it is. It’s the same thing over and over again. It’s not really as pretty as everybody expects it to be. It’s actually a real hard job.”

At this time of year, it’s still a nice break from the cold and snow in Ottawa. But if you think the sun and heat can be a distraction from the job at hand, such has not been the case in recent years.

The Senators are 19-11-2-3 all-time and 12-4 in their last 16 visits to Tampa, where they face off against the Lightning on Tuesday. And they’ve been even better when visiting the Florida Panthers - which they’ll do Wednesday in Sunrise - with a 20-12-1 all time mark, a current four-game winning streak and 15-3 record in their last 18 games.

“I don’t know what the reason for that (success) would be,” said Chris Phillips. “It's nice to get down there, especially when you’re in the dead of winter here, to relax for a day, and soak up some rays and for a day to be able to forget about hockey, enjoy the time we have down there, the things we have planned. It’s good bonding stuff for the team.”

Said Alfredsson: “Just to sit on a patio and have lunch or dinner, it gives you energy, no question. I don’t know if it’s the reason we’ve done well there lately, I know we’ve been up and down throughout the years I’ve been here, with success down there, but especially now, with it being the father’s trip as well, it’s going to be an exciting trip for everybody. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the old folks.”

Having only claimed four of a possible 10 points from a five-game homestand, the Senators are 15-11-3 at The Bank. On the road, they’re 13-11-5.

They’ll try to build on the last two outings, from which they’ve snagged three of a possible four points.

As they battle with the Panthers for a playoff spot, MacLean isn’t worried that the Senators will forget the reason they’re down there. Even with the dads on board, it’s still a business trip. A very important one, at that.

“I think at this time of the year, you should be pretty focused on the games at hand, no matter where they play,” he said. “If you want to play them in the parking lot, they should be ready to play.”


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