OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson will be back with the Senators next season, on or off the ice.
Coach Paul MacLean told Hockey Night in Canada radio Tuesday afternoon that if the club’s captain isn’t wearing his No. 11 jersey, he’ll either be working in the front office with GM Bryan Murray or behind the bench as an assistant coach.
“One thing that we do know for sure is that Daniel is going to be here,” said MacLean. “Whether he’s playing or he’s on the bench with me or he’s in the office with Bryan Murray. Daniel’s going to be here and he’s going to be a big part of helping us build this program.”
The 39-year-old Alfredsson, who leaves Wednesday to play for Team Sweden at the world championship, has always had an open invitation from owner Eugene Melnyk to take an off-ice role with the Senators when his playing career ends.
MacLean’s interview was the first time anyone with the club has mentioned where Alfredsson might end up.
Alfredsson has said he might like a similar role to the one Steve Yzerman took in Detroit when he retired as a player. Yzerman worked as a VP with GM Ken Holland before accepting the GM’s post in Tampa.
If Alfredsson does decide to stop playing, part of the reason would be to spend more time with his family, so coaching isn’t likely.
However, MacLean sounded optimistic that Alfredsson will return after a 59-point season that proved he still contribute at a high level.
It also sounded like MacLean is trying to convince the captain to keep playing.
“The fact he’s (going) over to Sweden to play in the world championships is a positive thing that he wants to keep playing because he feels like he’s got gas in the tank and he wants to continue to compete,” said MacLean.
“I look at the fact he scored 27 goals in this league — I mean that’s a lot of goals — I mean it’s not like he was a fourth-line plumber that we stuck on the ice every once in a while. He was a top-six forward, playing the first power play unit and killing penalties for us.
“(He averaged) 17-to-20 minutes per-game. He’s still a front-line player. Daniel’s going to make the ultimate decision, but we don’t feel his play slipped. Every player’s abilities go up and down during the season, but we thought that Daniel tracked at a high level and very consistent.”