The season starts now: Alfredsson set for camp


Daniel Alfredsson could hear the sounds and shots from Ottawa Senators teammates echoing in the air inside the Bell Sensplex yesterday morning.


Daniel Alfredsson could hear the sounds and shots from Ottawa Senators teammates echoing in the air inside the Bell Sensplex yesterday morning.

He wasn't interested in joining them in a game of shinny just yet, though.

Instead, Alfredsson was in his own world, going through a range of on-ice drills with personal trainer Lorne Goldenberg on an adjacent ice surface.

For 10 minutes, he circled around pylons set up inside one blue-line. After a short break, he spent five minutes stickhandling through another set of obstacles. Then he skated from end to end, making hard stops at the blue-lines. He continued the cycle for 45 minutes, occasionally shooting a puck at an empty net.

It has been more or less the same story for the past two weeks or so as Alfredsson readies himself for the opening of the Senators' main training camp on Sept. 16.

While Alfredsson insists his preparation isn't anything special, those who have been close to the team for the past decade can't remember so much hard work so soon from the Senators captain, who joined the team in 1995-96: 853 regular-season games and 847 points ago.

The veteran right-winger, who will turn 36 in December, started skating again in mid-August.

"Before I used to just do the scrimmage, but I find, as I get older, I get more out of the drills and go hard for 45-50 minutes, instead of an hour and a half, sitting out half the time," Alfredsson said. "Lorne has got me going maybe a little bit more on the ice than I have before, but I just want to do some extra work. Training camp is so short and intense, you want to make sure your groin is ready. Groin, hip flexor, I think it's the same for everybody. Once the skating starts, I think it's pretty intense for everyone, and you want to get a lot of skating in beforehand."

To casual observers, it might appear that Alfredsson is working harder than ever to test himself because of concerns over the knee and neck injuries he suffered in the next to last game of the 2007-08 regular season, when Mark Bell of the Toronto Maple Leafs caught him with his head down and delivered a heavy check. Alfredsson gamely attempted to play in the final two games of the Senators' four-game, opening round playoff sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he wasn't anywhere close to being at full health.

Now, Alfredsson insists, those injuries are in the past. They are history for him, just like the team's ugly second-half collapse.

"It took maybe four weeks after the season; I was doing weights, pretty much everything," Alfredsson said when pressed about his recovery. "It was more my neck that was bothering me for a longer time. I had whiplash. (My neck) was stiff and I had headaches for a while, but I feel good, to be honest. It was a long summer, longer than other years, so I put it to good use. It makes you stronger; you feel better, there's no question. I feel energized and excited."

During the summer, Alfredsson spoke with new head coach Craig Hartsburg about the issues that led to the club's slide in the final months of the season, a campaign he labeled "the most frustrating year since my rookie year, no question."

He also listened to some of Hartsburg's general ideas for 2008-09. At this point, anyway, plans are to split up Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza in an attempt to spread out offence among at least two lines.

"I don't think we're going to play together at the start and we'll see how that holds up," Alfredsson said. "Craig is going to come in and I think he has a real solid idea of what we can do as a team and how we should play. I like his idea of being fairly aggressive all over the ice. In the (salary-) cap era, everybody would like to add here and there, but it's hard. I like the way we're going right now."

Alfredsson also discounts suggestions it might take a while for the Senators to find their legs, given the massive overhaul on defence. Mike Commodore, Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros are all gone, while Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and Jason Smith have been added.

"It was and it wasn't (a surprise). The defence can only do so much anyways," Alfredsson said with a laugh. "But, as far as playing a system and stuff, we have a core of guys like Heatley, Spezza, (Mike) Fisher, myself, (Chris Phillips) and (Anton) Volchenkov, who been here a while. You're not going to change the whole dynamic of how we play. We'll do some things differently, of course, but I don't see that we're going to need an adjustment period."

With that, Alfredsson laughed and said he would take a few shifts on the other rink with his teammates to "give myself an extra confidence boost."


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