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Alfredsson ready to learn ropes as Senators executive

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- Daniel Alfredsson looked down from the stands at the Ottawa Senators players skating furiously during fitness testing at their practice rink early Friday morning.

It was one of the first things he did on his first day as the Senators' senior adviser to hockey operations as he embarked on his new career as an NHL executive under general manager Bryan Murray.

"I watched the skating test this morning and there's a lot less anxiety when you're upstairs than when you're on the ice," Alfredsson said Friday afternoon.

"We just came from a meeting downstairs, Bryan addressed all the players before camp really starts, and you're looking at the room and you see all the players here with big eyes, excited and nervous.

"I've got that feeling again in my body. I can really relate to that."

In the minds of many Senators fans, Alfredsson, the most popular and respected player in franchise history, is back where he belongs, a part of the family again. After 17 years with the Senators, Alfredsson signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings in July 2013 and played what turned out to be his final season.

After a year of retirement, the franchise's longest-serving captain and most iconic player is ready to get on with the next stage of his professional life.

The 42-year-old admitted making the move was a little unnerving.

"The scary part comes from the fact there's a lot of work that they put in that you don't see every day. I'm going to have to learn to do that," he said.

He was given a crash course in the Senators' player evaluation system Friday by assistant general manager Pierre Dorion before hustling off from a radio interview for another meeting with Murray.

Alfredsson will have the opportunity to get experience in all areas of the hockey department. His family will remain in Detroit for at least this season, he said, and he will commute to Ottawa as the job demands.

"The exciting part is the games," Alfredsson said. "Watching the games and evaluating how the team is playing, which players are playing well and following the young kids' development. That's the best part for everybody: the players, the fans and I'm sure for management as well. It's the games. That's an exciting part.

"The harder part for me will be to learn the everyday stuff that goes on in the office. I'm going to try to be a pest and ask as many questions as I can and learn as much as I can. It's a great situation to step in with the staff they have."

Murray said everyone connected with the franchise, from the young players to veteran management, can benefit from Alfredsson's arrival.

"I'm very pleased to have Daniel join our staff," Murray said. "The staff of the Senators is not a big one, and he will have a big impact on what we do here. Obviously, he's got a great history with this franchise; the greatest player, the greatest leader in the history of it. We know we can get Daniel involved in all aspects of hockey operations. We hope that he learns a little from us and I know that we'll learn a lot from him."

Alfredsson said his contributions might also include going on the ice to help coach Dave Cameron and his staff.

"I could see myself going out on the ice once in a while," Alfredsson said. "I'm not sure. If there's something where I think I can help a player, shooting or whatever it could be, I could see we might do it in the hours before anybody gets there. We'll see.

"It's helping the young players, probably, helping the young guys with whatever it is. If they're struggling, or if I see they can improve something or they just want to talk about something. I think I can have an immediate impact there."

Murray was asked if bringing Alfredsson back into the fold was a surprise given his "messy departure," a reference to Alfredsson leaving to sign with the Red Wings for the 2013-14 season.

"I didn't think it was that messy. I thought it was a player looking for an opportunity," Murray said. "He saw something that was maybe a little better for the moment in his career, to have a chance to win. We didn't totally agree on the contract at the time. That happens in hockey. He'll find out now that some players don't like what we offer them. They sometimes don't understand until after the fact.

"We have situations that happen in our lives and in our business we don't like at the moment, but we get over it. We're big boys, we get over it. We're buddies now."

Murray said perhaps the biggest asset Alfredsson brings is the one that defined him in the dressing room.

"His leadership qualities. People with leadership qualities, they don't disappear. I think that's the first thing I see with Daniel," Murray said. "He's the kind of person who wants to be involved, wants to take charge, wants to pass on information."

Senators captain Erik Karlsson, who lived with Alfredsson when Karlsson was a rookie, said he's excited to have his friend and mentor back at Canadian Tire Centre.

Karlsson said he and Alfredsson spoke often while Alfredsson was mulling over the job with the Senators.

"As everybody knows, we're good friends, and we will be for a very long time," Karlsson said. "For me, I'm also very excited he's going to be back here. It's going to be nice to see him a little bit more often. He's been helping me out throughout my career, and now he's going to be able to do that a little bit closer.

"I know he's really excited about this opportunity and I think for the organization it's a great and smart move. I think he has a lot of knowledge and insight into this game, and it's going to be good for both players and management."

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