Alfie does what Yashin wouldn't

Daniel Alfredsson poses after winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy during the 2012 NHL Awards in...

Daniel Alfredsson poses after winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy during the 2012 NHL Awards in Las Vegas in June. (AFP)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:57 PM ET

OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson always was a better, more honourable man than the captain he replaced.

He proved it again Tuesday, shooting down speculation that he was insistent on a raise and extending his existing deal in announcing his decision to return for a 17th season in a Senators jersey.

Alfredsson, the best player in franchise history, will accept just one million of owner Eugene Melnyk’s dollars in 2012-13, when (as of now) he’ll be the 12th highest-paid player on the team.

Jason Spezza will make eight times more money next season. Chris Neil will get twice as much. Heck, even defenceman Mike Lundin, who was signed as a free agent last month and has played just 241 nondescript games in the NHL, will collect $150,000 more than Alfredsson.

“It’s not something I’d like to change,” Alfredsson said from Sweden on a conference call with a number of NHL media members that was hosted by a moderator who had about the same kind of success rate (14.1) correctly pronouncing names as Ottawa’s No. 11 did scoring goals (27) on shots he took (191) last season.

“I did talk to Bryan a couple of weeks ago about maybe doing an extension for another year. We discussed it back and forth. (But) I signed a four-year deal and if you look at the average ... I think that’s the way you should look at it ... even though it progressively gets lower and lower, I think you look at the average. Even though I make $1 million next year, I made up for it maybe the first year.

“It’s a non-issue for me. I’m just happy I’ve come to this conclusion that I want to play again, and play at a high level.”

Alfredsson, you’ll remember, became captain of the Senators when they stripped the ‘C’ off Alexei Yashin’s chest 13 years ago. Yashin wasn’t much of a team guy. Already the Senators’ highest-paid player, he made his third demand (in five years) that his contract be renegotiated, from a $3.6-million salary to something more in line with the league’s top centres, who were making $6-7 million.

When the Senators were silly enough to think he should honour the final year on his deal, Yashin asked for a trade. When the team denied that request, he refused to report until he was finally suspended for the season on Nov. 10. When he finally did return the following season, he found the ‘C’ on the guy who should have had it in the first place.

The sad irony of it all is that Yashin, who hasn’t been in the NHL since 2007, will get paid more to NOT play for the Islanders this season (not to mention the two after it, with a salary of $2,204,000 per) than Alfredsson will get when he’ll be one of the Senators’ top three or four players again in ‘12-13 and perhaps beyond.

“I don’t know if I’d say just a million dollars,” Alfredsson said, repeating part of a question with a chuckle. “I’m good with the way the contract is now, yes.

“That’s never been a factor at all, that I would try to sign and get a big signing bonus this summer, to kind of make up for that. Bryan and I did talk about maybe doing an extension for the following year, but at the end of the day I just felt that I want to finish this contract. I didn’t want to have the pressure maybe to go through this again, with a year left on my contract, and then have to decide.

“I wanted a clean sheet. I think my decision will be a lot easier if I have to that, too. That’s probably the main reason why I’m just going to play this contract out.”

Alfredsson did suggest that maybe this won’t be his last season, that, with guys like Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne still going strong, “maybe it’s a trend” that guys over 40 will play on.

“I’m going to play this year, and obviously, when the season is over, I’m going to re-evaluate again, and see where I am,’ he said. “I’m not going to say this is my last year, because if I feel good and feel I can play, I’ll continue.

“I’m confident I can stay at that level, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to improve,” he added. “My health is better than it’s been in a while. I think I can come into camp much better prepared than I was last year, which should help me. I should be able to be more consistent. I’m not looking to be close to where I was last year. I would like to improve and be better.”

Alfredsson, who is working out with his old Swedish team, the Frolunda Indians, as well as Erik Karlsson and “track and field coach” Peter Froberg, says he plans on returning to Ottawa on Aug. 22.

“Hugo’s hockey starts on the 25th,” he said, referring to his eight-year-old son. “We probably would have stayed a week or two longer, if it wasn’t for that. The kids come first. I still can’t believe his hockey starts three weeks before mine.”

The Senators, and their fans, are just glad dad is going to play another season.

 

 


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