Teammates to Alfredsson: Stay another year (or two)

 

As he said goodbye for the season Saturday, Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson insisted he was no closer to a decision about whether he’s saying goodbye forever.

Yet his teammates will do everything they can to persuade him to come back.

“He’s got four kids at home and that’s definitely a big part of it,” Chris Neil said. “But when he comes to the rink, he’s got other kids as well.”

Neil says that Alfredsson is a father figure and mentor to Swedes Erik Karlsson, Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg and countless other youngsters trying to establish themselves in the NHL.

Neil, who had an outstanding seven game series against the Rangers, recognizes there are countless issues involved in Alfredsson’s decision – his health, his family situation, his motivation to put in the off-season work to prepare for another season – but claims that there’s no question the captain can still play at a high level.

“He’s still an elite player in this league,” Neil said. “He’s a game changer. He scores big goals when needed. I think he’s got a lot left in the tank. Not just for one year. I think he’s got a couple of years left in him. You see him out there, the way he skates, the way he moves. He’s rejuvenated out there. In practice, he’s one of the first guys out there, wanting to get better and make others around him get better.”

Karlsson says he’ll try to convince Alfredsson to return, but he also suggests that his influence on the 39-year-old captain is limited.

“I will try to, but I’m not the one to bring it up,” Karlsson said. “If he wants to talk about something, I’m right here. I don’t know if I have that much knowledge, but I could probably figure out something to say. I don’t want him to quit. I don’t think it’s his time to hang them up. He has been so good for us. I really think he can be a good player for a number of years, but still it’s his decision and whatever he wants to do, we’ll support him.”

Nick Foligno and Jason Spezza, the heir apparent to take over the captain’s role if Alfredsson does retire, offered similar sentiments about his skills and value to the organization.

Spezza also said that Alfredsson was taking the right approach by waiting and weighing all the circumstances before opting one way or the other.

“The best thing to do is to take some time off before making a decision,” he said. “Making a rash decision at this time of year…everyone is pretty frustrated with how the year ends and it’s never fun losing. He’s a smart man and he’ll take his time and make the right decision.”

Alfredsson acknowledges that he has to be fully committed to the mental and physical grind of an entire season and that once he makes a choice to retire, there’s no turning back. He acknowledges that he has missed many of his sons’ activities due to his career and that he will go over everything with his wife, Bibi, before saying yes or no to continuing.

He joked that leaving the game might be harder on his kids than him.

“I’m sure the kids would like to see me play another year,” he says. “My son once told me, when I did an interview before the All-Star Game and they asked me if I was going to play next year and I said, ‘I don’t know, we’ll see what happens’, and he kind of started crying. I didn’t know he was that emotional about it.

“I said, ‘what’s wrong’ and he said ‘I won’t be able to go into the (hot) pool in the locker room, so he’s worried that he can’t come down if I retire.’”

 

What do you think? Leave a comment