|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is on track to be ready for training camp after undergoing off-season back surgery in June. He hasn't seen any game action since Feb. 7 (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
In a season of celebration, Daniel Alfredsson
fully expects he won't be late for the start of the big party.
The Ottawa Senators captain said today he expects to resume skating next week, the next important step in his recovery from off-season back surgery in June.
"It’ll be another step in the process and I’m looking forward to it," Alfredsson said during a news conference held at the Bell Sensplex to officially launch the Senators' 20th anniversary season. "Everything so far has gone according to schedule. The workouts are going good. Skating I haven’t done (yet), so hopefully it’ll just be fine as well.
"I can’t say I’m 100 per cent right now, but I’m definitely a lot better. Breaking down scar tissue and stuff like that is part of the process, so things are going well."
Alfredsson will likely hit the ice without full equipment but if all goes well, he's hopeful he can join some of his teammates for the informal scrimmaging that usually precedes the opening of training camp in mid-September.
"I’ll just skate with gloves and a stick and a helmet, just to feel how it feels and build it from there," said Alfredsson. "I’ll start slowly the first few times and if it feels good, I’ll probably just jump in with the other guys. I usually go on the ice in the second or third week of August.
"This might be a little bit early but at the same time, I haven’t really skated that much since February. So if I can get a little more ice (before the season), that’s really good."
The Senators captain hasn't seen any game action since Feb. 7 in Vancouver, shutting it down at that point for what turned out to be the remainder of the season. He only saw action in 54 games last season, the lowest number of his 15-year National Hockey League career. Alfredsson's goal (14), assist (17) and point (31) totals were also his fewest since 1998-99. But Alfredsson believes he can regain some of his old form in the season to come.
"I would like to, for myself, go back to playing at the level I think I can," said the native of Goteborg, Sweden, who'll be 39 in December. "Health wise, the last few seasons have been hard but physically, I think the strength is there and the speed could be there. If I can stay healthy, I think I can have a lot of fun and play at a high level."
Adding to Alfredsson's sense of enthusiasm is the presence of young talent such as Bobby Butler
, Colin Greening
, Erik Condra
and Zack Smith
, all of whom figure to be regulars in the Senators lineup to start the new season.
"We’ll have a fairly young team with a lot of young players," said Alfredsson. "The way they finished the season here last year and the way the guys that went down played in Binghamton ... they won the championship there and there were a lot of positives for those guys.
"What kind of team (we’ll have), I’m not totally sure. We’ll see in training camp. But other than that, where we are ... the expectations won’t be as high as in previous years, but we’ll push each other as much as we can and develop as quick as we can and see what happens."
Though it's far from mind just yet, Alfredsson likes the idea of possibly representing the Senators at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, which is set for Jan. 29 at Scotiabank Place.
"It would mean a lot in terms of (saying) I've had a good first half and I've been healthy," he said. "It's not something I'm thinking about now ... but I think it will be a good weekend for the fans here. I've played in a few of them and when (all-star games) have been in hockey communities like in Minnesota, it's really special."