OTTAWA - As the Ottawa Senators gathered for one final time the biggest topic of the day was whether or not Daniel Alfredsson would be back.
The 39-year-old Senators captain is pondering retirement, but if players and management have their way he will return. For his part, Alfredsson would only say Saturday that if he returned he would play out the final year of his contract at US$1 million.
Beyond that, he plans to take his time before making a decision.
"It's been a great year, but it's been a long year physically and mentally," said Alfredsson.
"Do I have the energy and motivation to get ready for another year because I know I just can't take the summer off and come to camp and hope I will do well. If I want to play I want to play at as high level as I can and that means you have to go through a summer of hard workouts and getting ready to play a full season."
With four young boys at home Alfredsson admitted the tolls of the season often left him without as much energy as he would like to play with his sons. But then, his sons also want him to stay in a Senators jersey.
"They love being a part here in the locker-room and coming to games," he said.
Players are hopeful they can convince Alfredsson to come back for at least one more year if not more.
"I just might force him to come back for one more year," said Chris Neil. "Alf was awesome all year. As everyone else could see, he was still an elite player in the league, he's a game-changer, he scores big goals when needed, he's a leader, he leads by example."
Alfredsson will use the next few weeks as a time to reflect on whether or not he's ready to walk away from the game he loves.
There may yet be more hockey in his immediate future. He has been invited to represent Sweden at the IIHF World Hockey Championships, but has yet to make a final decision. The offer would be an appealing one considering much of the tournament will be played in Stockholm.
Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray met with Alfredsson earlier in the day and said he would allow him whatever time necessary to make a final decision, but was hopeful he would be back.
"I've told him I don't think there's any question he's one of the best players on our team if not the best forward," said Murray. "He showed that in Game 7 again. He shoots the puck, he skates well. I'm trying to discourage him like all heck to retire. I think he's a great mentor for what we have coming with a couple young prospects from Sweden, but he smiled and said we'll talk later."
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