OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson is quietly developing his skills during the NHL lockout.
Just not the kind you may or may not see him display again on an NHL ice surface.
“I call myself the official toilet wiper, with four boys,” Alfredsson — who has remained in Ottawa to spend his free time with wife Bibi and their sons Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William during the lockout — said with a chuckle Tuesday at the Sensplex.
The Senators captain is also working all the corners — of the kitchen.
“I do dishes,” Alfredsson said when asked about the rest of his household chores. “We have a dishwasher, but we do the big pots and pans ... and no plastic in the dishwasher.
“I’m cooking a bit,” he added. “And I find that one of the toughest things with a family, to try to do dinners and come up with different recipes. We don’t always come back to Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes. Pasta is big with the kids, so I try to mix it up. I’m getting better.”
Yes, almost two weeks into what was supposed to be the start of his 17th NHL season, Alfredsson is becoming quite comfortable with life away from pro hockey. So comfortable, in fact, that it sounds as though he’s fully prepared to accept retirement now — even if the current season is saved.
“I think the longer it’s been going here I don’t feel as eager to get back,” the 39-year-old said in a discussion about the lockout. “I’d say I’m more relaxed. If it happens, it happens.
“I can’t say I’ve at all been frustrated or really looking forward to coming to the rink. I love it when I’m on the ice and I have fun, but at the same time, at this stage, I know I have to look forward as well. Depending what happens, we’ll see how quick that comes.”
Asked if he might reverse his decision to continue playing should the league shutdown last until, say, January, Alfredsson shrugged.
“I don’t know. I don’t think so,” said Alfredsson, who takes part in “one or two” of the union brothers’ three weekly skates. “Obviously, if we get a solution, I’ll go to camp and see how the motivation is. I haven’t skated as much as we normally do, but I’ve been going to the gym four days a week, and I feel really good there.
“I enjoy working out, so I’m not going to stop being in shape, but it’s a different step once you go to training camp.”
The truth is, Alfredsson doesn’t know what his mind-set will be in a couple of weeks.
“I think that goes for everybody,” he said. “For the fans, too. I think in the beginning everybody follows exactly what goes on (with the labour dispute). You read every little thing, and you read into it, and as time goes on and nothing happens, you kind of tune out of it, you get tired of it. We’re no different.”
Alfredsson kept his seat on the fence warm when he also wouldn’t rule out missing an entire season, then returning in a year’s time.
“I could, physically,” he said. “I don’t think it would be an issue for me. It’s all in motivation, I think. Do I feel I could go a whole year and do it again? I think I could. But do I want to? That’s more what I think will determine it.”
Meanwhile, he’ll enjoy what little there is left of the golf season, get ready to start hunting again, and help out at practices with the Kanata Blazers atom team, which is coached by his brother Henrik and includes his oldest son as a forward.
Hugo Alfredsson is not so much a goal scorer as a “Magnus Arvedson” type player, his dad said in comparison to the former two-way Senators winger.
“I find that it’s been really good,” Alfredsson said of going to see Hugo play. “I usually sign a lot of autographs, but I tell people once the game is on I don’t sign anything. I sign in (intermissions) and after the game, but when I’m there I want to watch the game.
“People have been great. They respect the privacy during the game. I see a lot of the kids, how happy they are, when I sign my autograph, take my time, talk to them a little bit. In the beginning, when I started hockey, I found it kind of annoying, that you get recognized everywhere. But now I’m used to it. Especially on my son’s team, they’d be more excited if somebody else came. I’m just a dad.”
A busy one, at that.