Senators notebook: No Alfie, no problem

For the first time since 1995, Daniel Alfredsson wasn’t around Wednesday when the Ottawa Senators officially opened training camp.

For the first time since 1995, Daniel Alfredsson wasn’t around Wednesday when the Ottawa Senators officially opened training camp.

Even though he’s gone, he’s far from forgotten.

Until coach Paul MacLean is completely satisfied that he’s done every piece of homework to choose Alfredsson’s replacement — either Jason Spezza or Chris Phillips — the Senators will remain a captain-less club.

“It’s a big difference not having him around,” said star defenceman Erik Karlsson. “It will take a day or two to get over him.”

Marc Methot, Karlsson’s defence partner, acknowledged it was hard to leave his house in Ottawa this summer without being asked about the 40-year-old Alfredsson, who shocked the city in July by opting to sign with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent.

“I was asked about it every day, pretty much,” said Methot. “If you met somebody new or you were out at golf tournaments (or elsewhere), everybody wants to know about Alfie. And that’s normal. He’s had such a huge impact on this city. Am I surprised? No. That’s the way the game goes. That’s the respect he commands here.”

But Methot, echoing what countless others said during Wednesday’s obligatory day of medicals and challenging fitness tests, insists the Senators will be able to soldier on without No. 11.

“It might hit once you look around the dressing room and realize he’s not there for a first game, but we have so many great leaders. You can’t replace a guy like Alfie, and I know everybody says this, but we have a lot of guys who can step up. We’re real tight, chemistry-wise, and I think we’ll be just fine.”

For now, anyway, the intrigue is about who MacLean will choose the wear the ‘C.’

MacLean said it’s not a decision that can be made “haphazardly,” adding he will make the decision when he believes it’s right.

“Naming a captain is not something you take lightly,” MacLean said. “You have to take the time you need to make sure you’re doing the right thing.”

MacLean joked that he’s heeding the advice from everyone — including the media and the hockey fans in Ottawa — but it will ultimately be his decision, after consultations with general manager Bryan Murray and his coaching staff. He has not “interviewed” players for the position.

NO NEWS ON COWEN

Opening day came and went without defenceman Jared Cowen, who was sitting at home in Saskatoon without a contract.

MacLean said he can’t get caught up in who isn’t here.

“We’ve played lots of games without Jared Cowen before, unfortunately (due to injury),” the Senators coach said. “If we have to to play some more again, we will. But this is the unfortunate business of the game. If you’re here, we use you. If you’re not, we just keep going.”

WHO GOES WHERE?

It will be crowded at centre when the players take the ice Thursday. MacLean says Mika Zibanejad and Zack Smith will both start training camp in the middle. When you consider Spezza and Kyle Turris are locked into the top two positions, where does that leave Jean-Gabriel Pageau? Pageau emerged as an impressive third line/fourth line centre in the final two weeks of the regular season and playoffs. At some point, somebody has to move somewhere.

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