Old? Alfredsson still going strong
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson celebrates a goal against the Bruins at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Feb. 25, 2012. (JANA CHYTILOVA/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images/AFP)
TAMPA - Under different circumstances, last Monday’s NHL trade deadline could have been an anxious day for Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.
The 39-year-old captain was happy he wasn’t forced to make a decision on whether he wanted to be traded to a contender.
With the Senators in the hunt for a playoff spot, Alfredsson wasn’t approached by GM Bryan Murray about being dealt and that was fine with the face of the franchise.
Teams looking for veteran leadership — including Nashville, Boston, Vancouver and the Rangers — would have shown interest.
“We didn’t know what to expect with this team,” said Alfredsson before the players headed to Ocala to enjoy an off-day at owner Eugene Melnyk’s ranch Monday. “There were a lot of questions and I was asked a lot if I would look to go somewhere else (at the deadline).
“I was like everybody else. I was just really happy we didn’t have to make that decision. We put ourselves in a position where we have a really good chance of making the playoffs.”
Just because he’s having fun, Alfredsson isn’t ready to commit to playing his final season as one of the NHL’s best bargains at $1 million. He’s glad off-season back surgery has allowed him to play and feel good.
Alfredsson indicated during the NHL all-star weekend he is leaning toward returning.
“The major factor is: Do I feel I still have it in me and go through another summer of workouts, training camp and playing another year? Then, health-wise and then family,” said Alfredsson, a father of four kids.
“Those are the three components. When I thought about it last summer, I just wanted to come back and see what I could do (after the back surgery) to see if I was healthy and if I could get healthy. I’ve been able to do that so it’s been really encouraging throughout the year. It’s been a lot of fun and, hopefully, the best is yet to come.”
Alfredsson doesn’t need the distraction of deciding on next year. Mind you, it wouldn’t surprise anybody if Melnyk pulled him aside in Ocala to try to convince Alfredsson to be part of the picture.
“That’s something I will do at the end of the season,” said Alfredsson. “Right now, it’s just make the most of this and we’ll see after that. It’s a fun time right now, going down the stretch and being in the position we are.
“We’ve just got to make sure we keep pushing because I’m sure the teams behind us are not going to just lay down and give up. They’re going to keep pushing and we’re going to have to do the same.”
Coach Paul MacLean said like Detroit defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom, who is still going strong at age 41, Alfredsson isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
“Alfie’s conditioning level is at an elite level, much like Nick Lidstrom’s is,” said MacLean. “They can play as long as they want because they’re good enough players.”