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'I had no idea he was coming'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Daniel Alfredsson still hasn't seen the flagrant hit that has knocked him out of the Ottawa Senators lineup.

The Ottawa Senators captain admitted this morning he has yet to view a televised replay of the incident that still has the hockey world buzzing – the blow to the head by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell during the first period Thursday night that left Alfredsson crumpled on the ice and gasping for air.

“I don’t know if it’s a head shot or not,” Alfredsson told reporters when asked his opinion of the hit, which Senators head coach/general manager Bryan Murray believed was of the illegal variety. “But I think it’s more my responsibility to be aware of where everybody is on the ice.

“Usually, I’m aware of what’s going on around me but I had no idea (Bell) was coming.”

Alfredsson said the huge hit “knocked the wind out of me totally.”

“I couldn’t breathe at all,” he said. “But once I got some air in my lungs, I could start to (check) if anything else was wrong. I felt not bad and skated off. I tried to come back (in the second period) but it didn’t work.”

Instead, the Senators will be without Alfredsson – who said he’s still “a little sore” today – and centre Mike Fisher with knee injuries for the next few weeks. Alfredsson also has an undisclosed “upper body injury.”

Murray was fuming about the loss of Alfredsson in particular after Thursday night’s game and placed a call to the National Hockey League office this morning. But he was told once again Bell’s hit was deemed to be legal.

“My opinion is the same and the league doesn’t agree with me,” said Murray. “It doesn’t matter at this point. It doesn’t matter if Mark Bell is suspended. It doesn’t affect us in any way and I could care less.

“I just wanted to get an opinion from the league and they said they thought it was a legal hit.”

Senators centre Jason Spezza called Bell’s play “a clean dirty hit.”

“It’s within the rules but there’s an intent there, I think,” he said. “It follows the rules but you can let up in a situation like that, I think.

“You see a team that’s out of the playoffs and what’s the reason for them running around trying to knock our guy out in a situation like that?”

Both Spezza and defenceman Chris Phillips expressed concern about seeing another player injured by a blow to the head.

“That’s (Bell’s) style of game. He plays hard,” said Phillips. “It looked like the arm came up pretty high there. You don’t like to see (that) in a game, clean or dirty. That’s still getting up too high.

“That’s definitely part of the game we’d like to see (eliminated).”

The loss of Alfredsson and Fisher seemed to fire up the Senators, who got what they came for in the end – a decisive 8-2 victory that kept their playoff hopes alive.

“In a game like that, where it was still close and we really needed a win, we couldn’t be undisciplined and stupid and take bad penalties (in retaliation),” said Phillips. “(We could have) been throwing away, at that time, not only the game but possibly a chance at making the playoffs.

“There were bigger things on the line.”

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