|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy at the 2012 NHL Awards in Las Vegas. He remains undecided about his future heading into the summer (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
Daniel Alfredsson is heading home to contemplate his future.
The Ottawa Senators captain and his family will depart for Sweden on Sunday, where they plan to spend the next eight weeks relaxing with family and friends. Sometime early in that time period back in his homeland, Alfredsson feels he'll get a more clear idea about whether he'll return for a 17th season in a Senators jersey.
He says the time for that decision hasn't arrived just yet.
"I haven't gotten to a point where I've made a decision yet," Alfredsson told Sens TV in an exclusive interview in Las Vegas, where he'll attend the 2012 NHL Awards on Wednesday night as a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy. "I had a setback about a week and a half ago, when I got sick. I started working out and had a throat virus that set me back for over a week. I was in bed pretty much for five days, didn't eat much and had a hard time swallowing.
"So I'm just getting back into training again and I'm probably going to take a little bit more time before I know where I stand in my training and my motivation, more than anything, and go from there."
Alfredsson knows it's a decision that can't be taken lightly, though he suggested he isn't feeling a heavy burden of any sort to make the final call.
"I don't feel that it's difficult in a way that it's weighing on me every day," he said. "But at the same time, I want to make sure I make the right decision. I'm not there right now."
He intends to speak with Senators general manager Bryan Murray and head coach Paul MacLean — a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year — while the trio are in Las Vegas.
"I'll talk to them a little bit more and just weigh all the options and make sure I do make the right the right decision ... for a lot of reasons, for myself and for the team," he said. "I just know from previous experiences, too, that if you don't have the heart to put everything into it, you're not going to perform at the level that you want to and then I'm not going to help the team.
"I believe in a few weeks, I'll be there. I don't know if I subconsciously just want to push the decision (off) or not but as of now, I can't say I lean one way or another."
"I just know from previous experiences that if you don't have the heart to put everything into it, you're not going to perform at the level that you want to and then I'm not going to help the team. I believe in a few weeks, I'll be there. I don't know if I subconsciously just want to push the decision (off) or not but as of now, I can't say I lean one way or another." - Daniel Alfredsson
What is no doubt making the decision difficult is the way Alfredsson, who turns 40 in December, performed during the 2011-12 campaign. After undergoing off-season back surgery, the native of Goteborg, Sweden, had a renaissance campaign, producing 27 goals — his highest total in four seasons — and 59 points in 75 games. In a lot of eyes, he was the Senators' best player in their Game 7 playoff loss to the New York Rangers.
A year earlier, Alfredsson suffered through back woes so debilitating that he was limited to a career-low 54 games. The way he battled back from that injury, in great part, led to his nomination for the Masterton, which is presented annually to the player best displaying perseverance and dedication to hockey.
Given everything he's been through, it's an honour Alfredsson surely appreciates.
"As we get older, these kinds of things mean more and more," he said. "Perseverance and dedication to hockey ... hockey's been my life, as it is for most pros. And I think the one thing I take most pride in is to be dedicated, to be a hard worker and to work through the hard times and try to be there all the time.
"Going through some hard times two years ago to where I am now and the season we had ... it was a huge difference. Once I had my surgery, I felt — pretty much four hours after I got home — that 'wow, this is a big difference.' I could do good workouts in the summer. I could actually do workouts that I hadn't been able to do for a long period of time and to get to play at a level where I thought I could be.
"I wasn't sure I could get there again, so it was a great season in that respect. Getting this (Masterton) nomination puts the icing on the cake."
Watch the complete Daniel Alfredsson interview now on Sens TV.