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Captain Canada for a day

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Just call him Captain Canada.

Well, for one hour, that is.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson made good on a bet with team owner Eugene Melnyk on Monday morning, sporting a white Team Canada jersey during Ottawa’s workout at Scotiabank Place.

The two had placed a friendly wager on Saturday’s gold-medal game at the world junior hockey championship between Canada and Sweden. Had Canada lost, Melnyk had agreed to wear a gold Sweden jersey for one period during the Senators’ Jan. 17 home game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Canada’s 3-2 overtime victory, however, put Alfredsson in Canadian colours.

“I would have liked it to be the other way around, with Melnyk wearing the Swedish jersey,” Alfredsson said after Monday’s practice. “Maybe next year (when the world juniors will be played in Ottawa).”

Needless to say, the Senators captain took some good-natured ribbing from the large contingent of his Canadians teammates, some of whom had a jab or two to offer up after the practice session.

“I thought his heart looked big today,” centre Jason Spezza said with a laugh. “He backchecked harder and did a lot of the little things. Definitely, the jersey rubbed off on him a little bit.”

Added goaltender Ray Emery: “There was a little extra grit in there, maybe.”

Alfredsson, dry wit that he can be, offered up this counter: “I looked a little edgy, too. I didn’t look as smooth as usual.”

Now some of his teammates would like to figure out a way to get Alfredsson into a Canadian jersey for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

“He’s got an Olympic gold medal (in Torino, Italy, in 2006),” said Dany Heatley. “Nobody else in here has one. He’s got one for Sweden, maybe he can trade countries and help us win one.”

Said Spezza: “Let’s see if he can get his passport switched so the three of us can play together (in 2010).”

Alfredsson put a quick end to that line of thinking.

“There is no chance,” he said.

What about a Team Canada tattoo, perhaps?

“I’ll leave that for Hugo (his oldest son),” said Alfredsson.

World junior audience fourth largest ever for TSN

Saturday's broadcast of the Canada-Sweden gold-medal game at the world junior hockey championship produced a national average audience of 2.216 million for TSN, making it the fourth most watched program in network history.

The top three are all world junior finals, all of them played in North America: 2003 (Halifax), 3.453 million; 2005 (Grand Forks, N.D.), 3.227 million, and 2006 (Vancouver), 3.007 million. Saturday's telecast turned in the highest ever TSN number for a world juniors in Europe, with the audience peaking at 3.04 million just before the start of the overtime period.

Eight of TSN's top 10 audiences ever are WJC broadcasts.

Another 526,000 viewers tuned into Saturday's final on RDS.

Next year's world junior hockey championship runs from Dec. 26, 2008-Jan. 5, 2009 at Scotiabank Place and the Ottawa Civic Centre.

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