OTTAWA -- After coming off back surgery at the end of a disappointing 2010-11 season, the future of Daniel Alfredsson’s NHL career was left in doubt.
However, the Ottawa Senators captain battled back with a renaissance year, and on Tuesday was announced as a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, along with Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Max Pacioretty of Montreal Canadiens. The Trophy is awarded to "the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
"I'm honored and humbled," Alfredsson said. "It feels really good to come back and play, especially after a frustrating couple of years. The doctors did a great job with my surgery. I got much better this year and I'm having more fun playing. I put a lot of work in, rehabbing and getting ready, and I'm so happy with the success we've had this year. It's been a great group to be a part of and a lot of fun."
Alfredsson's surgery gave him a new lease on life in the League, and the captain has taken advantage. He had 27 goals -- including the 400th of his career -- 59 points and a plus-16 rating, recorded his 1,000th point and was named an All-Star captain.
"Once I had the surgery [in June], even the same day I felt better," Alfredsson said. "That was really encouraging. It was fun to work out again, instead of being limited to what you can do in the gym. It's been hard, but it's been good."
The revitalized leader lit a fire under his team, and for the Sens -- who were not expected to make waves this season -- their captain's perseverance provided a great amount of motivation.
"[Alfredsson's] a class act," goalie Craig Anderson said. "He's our captain, he's our leader. He's very emotional about the team; very emotional about himself. He wants to perform at his best at all times and we want to stand alongside him. His passion for the game is second to none."
Added Jason Spezza: "Coming off back surgery at that age is an accomplishment, and he's had a great year while staying relatively healthy. We were encouraged -- we didn't know how healthy he'd be for the season. We were happy to see him have the success he's had this year, and it's really nice to see him get recognition like that."
The 39-year-old Alfredsson has yet to decide whether he will come back for a 17th season. For now, his mind is focused on chasing the Stanley Cup.
"I'm still taking things day by day," Alfredsson said. "I'll think about it in the offseason, whenever that may be. Right now I'm thinking about Game 7 (against the New York Rangers)."