You won’t hear Daniel Alfredsson complaining that NHL coaches aren’t allowed on the ice yet.
“It is a little weird, but it’s nice,” said Alfredsson, after putting 13 of his fellow Senator skaters and two goalies through some practice drills at Scotiabank Place on Friday morning. “The next CBA we might push for that – no coaches at practice.”
He was kidding. We think. But the Senators players are enjoying their final days of stress-free sessions before the coaching staff takes over on Sunday.
“Fortunately, I picked up some drills coaching minor hockey, so we could run a practice. Coaches are great thieves. We steal from other coaches.”
The drills included some of the on-ice work Alfredsson does with brother Henric in coaching the Kanata minor Atom AA team, where Daniel’s son, Hugo, and Ben Phillips, the son of Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, both play.
The captain himself had some jump in the sessions.
“I’m feeling good, excited to get going,” Alfredsson said. “It’s great to be with the guys again in the locker room. Having a purpose – a goal – is maybe the best feeling right now.
“The day after the (tentative CBA) agreement, everything felt much easier.
We know it’s a short season, and it’s going to be busy compared to what we’re used to, but it’s going to be fun.”
Barring any last-minute glitches with the CBA approval, Ottawa players are expected to take voluntary medicals on Saturday, and take to the ice on Sunday at 1 p.m. for the first time, shortly after Senators owner Eugene Melnyk’s media access at 11 a.m. All team skating sessions are open to the public.
Alfredsson likes the fact the teams weren’t able to provide an exhibition game in such a short camp – the Senators could fly to Winnipeg as early as Thursday for the Saturday matinee opener against the Jets.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that different (than usual training camp), other than there won’t be any exhibition games,” Alfredsson said.
“I think it’s almost better, not because it’s short, but because we’re going to have fewer bodies. It’s going to be pretty much the team, we’re going to practice as one group. We can work on the things we need to work on right away – not just conditioning.
“We have to work on that, but also systems and special teams.
Does a short season help a team like Ottawa? Who knows.
“I have no idea. It is (a help) if we do well, it’s not if we don’t do well,” said the philosopher-captain. As for playing games every other night, it’s ” almost going to be like the playoffs,” Alfredsson said.
“After the first five, 10 games, I’m sure coaches will talk to each other around the league about how to do morning skates, practice, where you spend your energy. It’s a lot of games in a short period of time.”
One advantage the Senators do have, is a full year in the books with head coach Paul MacLean. Players know the man, and his systems, by now.
“It would probably be really tough to be a new coach coming in right now, trying to get a lot of things done in a short period of time,” Alfredsson said. “So, we’re in a good situation. We also have a lot of guys playing well in the AHL, and guys who played in Europe – that’s going to help us.”