|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is optimistic after skating today for the first time since undergoing back surgery in June (Getty Images).
Call it another significant step forward for Daniel Alfredsson
The Ottawa Senators captain hit the ice at the Bell Sensplex earlier today, skating for the first time since undergoing back surgery in June. It's a milestone moment as Alfredsson points toward a 16th season in a Senators jersey.
"It felt good to be back on the ice today," he said afterward. "I was on for maybe an hour, an hour and 20 (minutes), did some drills and played a little bit of a scrimmage. It was fun. I was tired, but everything held up well and the back felt fine."
Alfredsson hasn't seen any game action since Feb. 7 in Vancouver, when his ailing back forced the 38-year-old native of Goteborg, Sweden, to shut it down for what turned out to be the remainder of the 2010-11 season. He saw action in only 54 games, the lowest total of his 15-year National Hockey League career.
However, despite the sometimes slow road back to recovery, Alfredsson his remained confident that he'll be on hand when the Senators assemble for training camp in mid-September to begin preparations for their 20th anniversary season. Today, he declared that he's exactly where he needs to be to get himself there.
"Obviously, the first time on the ice is always a struggle," said Alfredsson, who turns 39 in December. "But for being the first time, it felt good and I'll be back out skating (on) Thursday again."
A year ago, Alfredsson had to deal with off-season surgery to repair a sports hernia injury, but had no issues in getting himself good to go for the 2010-11 campaign. But earlier this month, he admitted the back injury that shelved him in February tested him in a way no ailment has previously. He hoped it would heal through rehabilitation but when things didn't improve, surgery became the only option.
"Last year, I wasn't in pain all the time, but I lost the strength in my right leg," said Alfredsson. "That was extremely frustrating. I had to make the decision to have surgery. From then on, it has been a lot better and I can see the positives, the light at the end of the tunnel."