It appears Daniel Alfredsson will be suiting up for a game in front of Ottawa fans sooner than expected.
The 39-year old Senators captain said Tuesday he has interest is joining a group of locked-out local NHLers that former coach and player John Chabot wants to take on a tour of northern communities to play in fund-raising exhibitions.
Before those wheels are put in motion, Chabot wants the players to play an exhibition game in the nation’s capital, likely early next week. Money raised in that game would also go to charity.
“I just heard about it (Tuesday),” Alfredsson said of Chabot’s idea to head north with players, likely to the Northwest Territories and/or Quebec, in early November. “There’s no finalized plans yet, but I think it sounds really interesting. I’d love to go up there.”
A small group of locked-out players has been trying to stay sharp by skating 3-4 times a week at Sensplex.
The regulars include Alfredsson (who generally only shows up 1-2 times per week), Chris Neil, Marc Methot, Chris Phillips, Zack Smith, Chris Kelly, Grant Clitsome, Brendan Bell and Craig Anderson.
At Chabot’s request, they’ve contacted fellow NHLers to gauge the interest in both coming to Ottawa for the exhibition and then gaining some northern exposure. Apparently, the response has been positive.
“We want to get the bugs out before we go anywhere,” said Chabot, who planned on contacting some of the bigger rinks in the area over the next 48 hours to see about availability. “Right now, it’s getting a little exciting.”
Chabot, who is looking for a sponsor to absorb costs on the junket, has received advice from Philadelphia Flyers centre Max Talbot, who organized a successful tour of pros last month in Quebec. In one game, Talbot had stars Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury as the goalies.
What players from that group jump on board with Chabot has yet to be determined.
“We’re going to tweak it as we go along, as far as the game and players, but (if) we get 24 guys out for different organizations, then we’re good to go,” said Chabot, who acknowledged the presence of Alfredsson would make both the Ottawa exhibition and the northern tour more appealing to fans.
“Everybody wants to see NHL players,” said Chabot, “but you get some of the top-name guys out there, just get three or four ... people are going to come watch.
“It’s all going to be for charity. (The players) will be paying out of their pockets for their insurance, to make sure nothing happens untoward what they’re trying to accomplish in the long term, so if you look at it, they’ll be paying to play. We’re going to reap the benefits through charity, and the First Nations kids in the north, where there are youth programs that have been implemented over the last 10 years since I’ve been trying to do it. They’re going to reap the benefits of these type of games.”
Meanwhile, Alfredsson hasn’t received any indication of whether there will be a break anytime soon in the labour dispute between NHL players and owners.
“Honestly, I don’t know where it’s going,” he said. “And I haven’t heard anything that would suggest there’s any plans to talk or negotiate right now, so right now it’s just a deadlock.
“As far as if there’s a time limit to get something done, I don’t know. I think the league has a plan, and they’re following that.”
In the meantime, Alfredsson said he’s getting a good taste of what retirement will be like.
“You want to stay involved (with what’s happening in the dispute), but my life goes on, there’s no question,” said Alfredsson, who took in his son Hugo’s tournament at Sensplex last weekend. “I’ve really enjoyed the amount of time I’ve been able to spend with the family, so it hasn’t been all bad.”