Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson wants to play in Europe if lockout wipes out NHL season
DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
|Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson chases the puck in a corner against the Rangers during Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., April 23, 2012. (RICHARD WOLOWICZ/Getty Images/AFP)
OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson is going to play a game that matters again — in one place or another.
The Senators captain told the Sun on Tuesday that if the NHL lockout wipes out this season, he’ll look to sign with a team in Europe. Not in his native Sweden, where Alfredsson expects there will be “public pressure” on Elite League teams to open their doors to locked-out players. And not in the up-tempo KHL, either.
Alfredsson said he’d go to “Italy or France or somewhere” so he can stay sharp and keep open the possibility of playing for the Senators in 2013-14.
“If I feel I’m going to play next season, maybe I should play somewhere,” Alfredsson said at the Carleton University after a practice with the OUA’s Ravens. “Not that I have to, but it’s probably a good idea.
“I’d play some games, and just have a great experience. I’m not looking to go to a Swedish league or the Russian league, I don’t think. The way I feel now, I don’t think I would be motivated enough, if they cancelled the season, to really do a full push there.
“But I would like to play some hockey and go from there ... then decide what I want to do.”
Until recently, Alfredsson has mostly watched the NHL’s CBA negotiations go nowhere from Ottawa, where he has been able to spend quality time with his wife and four sons. His skating has primarily been done at Bell Sensplex with a handful of other locked-out pros, although two or three times the small group has accepted an invite to practice with Carleton.
But last week, Alfredsson became more familiar with the laces on his skates.
On vacation with his family in Phoenix, he took part in three on-ice sessions organized by Coyotes captain Shane Doan, which also included former teammates Wade Redden and Sean Hill.
And then Saturday, he was in Atlantic City to play in “Operation Hattrick” — a charity game held for victims of Hurricane Sandy, played before a house packed with 11,000 fans.
It was there — with a number of the NHL’s biggest names — that Alfredsson’s competitive juices really started to flow.
“It was a great experience,” said Alfredsson. “There were a lot of Rangers, Jersey (players), Philly (players) ... and a lot of Philly fans.”
Alfredsson said it was a “fun introduction” to the rivalries that exist between along the eastern seaboard. Along with the cheering, there were a lot of boos — and he chuckled when it was mentioned that for once, it was directed at him by Montreal and Toronto fans.
Most of the wrath was steered at Pittsburgh’s James Neal, although the crowd also broke into chants calling for Gary Bettman’s head, even though the NHL commish wasn’t in attendance.
“They really appreciated us being there,” said Alfredsson. “It was a pretty high-paced game, even though there was no hitting.
“Both teams worked hard. It was fun to play. The crowd was great. They were chanting, “We Want Hockey”.
Quite clearly, so does Alfredsson as he approaches his 40th birthday Dec. 11.
A couple of months ago he wondered if he could rediscover the motivation to play again if the lockout dragged on and the NHL didn’t start up until January. As he left the ice after one October skate at Sensplex, he blurted to no one in particular: “I’m too old for this.”
But, re-energized after his trip south and his stop in Atlantic City, he blended right in with the students Tuesday. Finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with Chris Neil, he blasted his trademark, one-timer in off the crossbar before the goalie could really move.
Didn’t think of letting up on the kids a little, Dan?
“Should I?” he said with a laugh. “I’ve got to practise, too.
“The coach did tell me, ‘I’m happy (the goalie) didn’t get to that one. I guess they have a few injuries.”
Now, Alfredsson says he will play for sure if the NHL season doesn’t get going until January.
“Playing the game in (Atlantic City) .. once you get out on the ice, it’s a great feeling,” he said.
But he’s not yet ready to commit to playing in the 2013-14 season.
“I don’t know,” said Alfredsson. “I’ll take it as it goes, and go from there.”