Daniel Alfredsson delivered the Senators the news they so badly wanted to hear with his decision to keep playing. But he also suggested that this season might not be his last.
Pointing to the likes of Dallas' Jaromir Jagr and Anaheim's Teemu Selanne, Alfredsson said it "might be the new trend" for players to maintain a high level of play into their 40s. Of course, Alfredsson, who will celebrate his 40th birthday in December, would have opted for retirement over playing a 17th NHL season had his back not responded to last summer's surgery so well.
"I feel I can get better," said Alfredsson, the franchise's highest scoring player and coming off a season in which he racked up 27 goals and 32 assists in 75 games. "Especially looking back with the health issues I've had and feeling that I've corrected that. I should be able to push myself and be, especially physically, better than I was last year.
"I'm going to play this year, and obviously, when the season is over, I'm going to re-evaluate again and see where I am. I'm not going to say this is my last year because if I feel good and feel I can play, I'll continue."
Alfredsson shot down speculation that his hesitance in making the decision to keep playing had to do with him wanting a new contract or more money. In the last year of his four-year deal, he will earn just $1 million, which makes him the 12th highest paid player on the team. Alfredsson said he and GM Bryan Murray had discussed an extension, but in the end his contract was a "non-issue."
The real issue was whether he felt he could train and motivate himself enough to endure the rigors of yet another 82-game schedule. And in the end, he decided that not only could he handle one more season, but perhaps another after it.
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