OTTAWA - Apparently Team Sweden isn’t counting on Daniel Alfredsson to dig for gold next winter.
The Senators captain hasn’t decided if he’ll play next season, but it’s significant to note that he wasn’t among 18 forwards invited to a three-day information session for Team Sweden from Aug. 12-14 to prepare for the Sochi Olympics.
In a list of 35 players on the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation website for the orientation camp, Alfredsson’s name didn’t appear. The website said the three days of meetings will mostly be an information session for the Olympics.
Alfredsson, 40, has suited up for the country 13 times in his career— including four times at the Olympics. Yes, the list could change, but some wonder if he’s indicated to Swedish officials he won’t be back next season.
If Alfredsson does play in 2013-14, he has every intention of being part of Team Sweden in Russia if the country wants him there, so it seems odd that he’s not being invited to be part of the preparation just in case he does come back.
Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson is among the 13 blueliners and goalie Robin Lehner is in the group of four netminders. But nowhere does Alfredsson’s name appear and not many details were provided.
The Swedes said the list won’t be finalized until the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and the International Olympic Committee finalize the agreement to send players to Sochi.
By all accounts, Alfredsson hasn’t decided what he’s going to do next year. Sources say he is leaning towards returning. He sat down with Senators GM Bryan Murray last week in Ottawa and asked for more time to make a decision.
“He’s not ready to commit yet. He needs more time to make sure he wants to go through the summer of training,” said a league source. “He keeps himself in great shape. He just has to make sure he wants to do everything it takes to return.”
There is no shortage of veterans on the Swedish roster invited to Stockholm. Vancouver twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin will both be there along with Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg and Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Alfredsson has been a good soldier for Sweden. He won gold at the Olympics in Turin in 2006 and has rarely said no to the country when asked to play at the world championship after the Senators were eliminated from the playoffs.
There is no question Alfredsson can still play, which is why the Senators want him back so badly. Murray said earlier this week Alfredsson is a key part of the team because of his leadership.
“He fills a vital role with this hockey team. He’s a Top 6 forward, he’s a point-getter, he’s much more than that, however, he’s a leader. He’s the glue guy in the room,” said Murray.
“He’s got a respect level amongst the young guys in the room. I think Alfie shows them how to work, shows them how to practise and allows them, through his conversations with them, to be confident enough to go out on the ice and play.”
You would think the Swedes would want that element as they try to get back to respectability in Russia.
Maybe the country has decided to go younger or maybe Swedish officials know something that hockey fans in Ottawa don’t. Whatever the case, the fact Alfredsson isn’t invited to the orientation camp is intriguing.
It’s possible he could be added later.
But it just seems that it would be safer for the Swedes to invite Alfredsson and then strike him from the list if he doesn’t decide to play.