|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson enjoyed one of his biggest career moments when he won a men's hockey gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images).
Four times, Daniel Alfredsson
has proudly worn his country's colours on the biggest of global sporting stages.
And the Ottawa Senators captain would like to see his fellow National Hockey League players continue to have the opportunity to be a part of the "amazing" spectacle that is the Olympic Winter Games.
It's a point that Alfredsson, who's represented Sweden at every Winter Games since NHL participation began in Nagano, Japan, in 1998, planned to make clear during a panel discussion today at the World Hockey Summit in Toronto. While no decision has yet been finalized about league involvement in the Sochi 2014 Olympics, Alfredsson is very much on the side of keeping a very good thing going.
"As a player, I see it as very important for NHL players to keep going to the Olympics," Alfredsson, a member of Sweden's gold-medal team at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, said during a conference call earlier today. "It’s a great experience for an athlete, playing for your country and playing against the best players in the world. On that kind of stage, it’s pretty amazing.
"I know there are logistics and things that have to be worked out and negotiated, but I believe we’ve created a positive trend with it, with all the fans watching it ... You have to look at everything and find a solution that does work to keep everybody involved gaining from this."
As a player with hockey experience on both sides of the ocean, Alfredsson has been a key spokesman throughout the four-day Summit, which wraps up on Thursday. He has enjoyed the opportunity to exchange thoughts with hockey leaders from all parts of the globe.
"You have discussions about things you never really thought about," said Alfredsson. "It's been really insightful for me to be a part of this and to see the great will (that is) there to really raise concerns and work toward a better game. That's been the most positive thing here — that everybody is willing to listen and contribute as well. It's been very interesting."
Once this event is over, Alfredsson will point his thoughts toward a 15th season with the Senators. The captain indicated today that he is recovering well from off-season surgery in April to repair a sports hernia injury.
"I've been skating for the last 2-1/2 weeks," said Alfredsson, the NHL's current longest-serving captain, who turns 38 in December. "I started earlier this year than I normally do, just to try it out and get on the ice a little bit more. I'm feeling pretty good, actually, and I'm looking forward to coming back to Ottawa in a week and getting ready for the season."
It's a 2010-11 campaign in which, as always, Alfredsson wants to see his team get out of the gates quickly.
"We've just got to come together as quickly as possible," he said. "Everybody knows today that it's a battle from Game 1 and throughout the season. So hopefully, we get off to a good start. That's the priority."