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Alfredsson: 'I think I'm doing myself a favour'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who's been sidelined by a lower back injury since Feb. 7, announced today that he won't be able to return before the season's end (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

In the end, Daniel Alfredsson decided there was only one right choice to make.

For himself and for his team.

"We all try to get back as quick as we can," the Ottawa Senators captain said earlier today in explaining his decision to call an end to his 2010-11 season. "But by not playing now, I think I'm doing myself a favour and I'll be a little bit better off for it."

Alfredsson, who's been sidelined by a lower back injury since Feb. 7, had hoped to return to action sometime before Saturday's season finale in Boston against the Bruins — perhaps even in time for home tests against either the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200) or the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

But some practice time with his teammates during a southern road trip last week made it clear that wasn't going to be in the cards for him.

"The progress (in his recovery) has been going pretty good," Alfredsson said after his teammates practised today at the Bell Sensplex. "But skating has been the one thing that his troubled me the most. I felt okay on the ice, but not good enough to justify playing in a game."

Added Senators head coach Cory Clouston: "We were hoping he might be able to play the last couple of games ... He took a couple of practices and realized he probably wasn't where he was going to be in order to play games. We weren't going to push him to do that."

Instead now, Alfredsson will put the focus on rehabbing during the summer in preparation for training camp next fall. And yes, the Senators captain vowed, he'll be back for a 16th season with the National Hockey League team for whom he has played a modern-franchise record 1,056 games. The 54 games, 17 assists and 31 points he recorded during the current campaign are all career lows, but his tank is hardly running on empty.

"It's been a frustrating year for a lot of reasons ... but I expect to be back next year," said Alfredsson, who remains hopeful surgery — which could delay his recovery process by 4-6 weeks — won't be necessary to get him there. "Any time you go in and have surgery on your back, you always worry about scar tissue and if that’s going to stay with you. That’s probably the biggest reason (not to do it). And where I am right now, that doesn’t justify having surgery, either.

"The way it's going (with rehab), I hope not to go down that road at all."

However, Alfredsson is prepared to go that route if and when he deems it necessary.

"Any time you have nerve problems, you can't predict how it's going to act up or not," said Alfredsson. "But I feel good about the way things have gone so far. It's gone a little bit slower than I was hoping it would, but there is no timetable (to make a decision on surgery on any possible surgery)."

Alfredsson likely isn't alone in seeing an early end to his season. Defenceman Sergei Gonchar remains sidelined with a concussion and forward Marek Svatos suffered one during Saturday night's loss to the Maple Leafs. Clouston suggested today he doesn't expect to see either player return to action before the season is over.

It's also "highly unlikely," Clouston added, that defenceman Erik Karlsson, who suffered a 25-stitch cut on his thigh last week against the Florida Panthers, will be ready return before the weekend.

Around the boards

After weekend play, the Binghamton Senators are just two points shy of qualifying for the American Hockey League playoffs for the first time since 2004-05. The B-Sens can secure a crossover playoff with a win on home ice against the Norfolk Admirals on Wednesday night, or if the Worcester Sharks lose to the Portland Pirates on Tuesday. Binghamton and Worcester both have another two games each slated before the AHL regular season ends Sunday ... Swedish prospect forward Andre Petersson, who is in Ottawa rehabbing an injury, skated with the Senators this morning but is ineligible to play because he has yet to sign an NHL contract.

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