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Swedes stick with Alfredsson

Despite injury, Senators captain named to Olympic roster

Sunday, 27.12.2009 / 11:22 AM / Features
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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Swedes stick with Alfredsson
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has been named to his fourth Olympic team by Sweden, which aims to defend its 2006 crown at the Vancouver 2010 Games (Getty Images).
In Daniel Alfredsson, his homeland still trusts.

The Ottawa Senators captain has been named to Sweden's provisional 23-man roster for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. It will be the fourth straight Olympics for the 37-year-old Alfredsson and most likely his last.

Swedish coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson kept Alfredsson in the mix despite the separated left shoulder he suffered last Wednesday in the Senators' road loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Alfredsson is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, with the latter end of that projection taking him very lose to the Feb. 12 opening of the Vancouver Games. But the Swedish star has a reputation for recovering quickly from injuries.

"I have no idea," Alfredsson said when asked if the injury will jeopardize his participation at Vancouver 2010. "It's 4-6 weeks and I've never had a shoulder injury before, but we'll see how it heals up. I'm hoping I'll be good to go way before that.

"I just approach it the same way every time. If everything goes well with the treatment we have here and everything ... they're usually able to help you along a little bit quicker. As long as you don't have any setbacks, you just have to work hard and see what happens."

Senators general manager Bryan Murray, who watched a chance at a Stanley Cup run in 2005-06 evaporate when goaltender Dominik Hasek suffered what turned out to be a season-ending groin injury at the 2006 Torino Games, doesn't want to see another vital player lost under the same circumstances.

"We lost probably our best chance to win a Stanley Cup (after) what happened to Dominik Hasek at that time ... so we have a history (with Olympic-related injuries) and we have a concern, without a doubt," Murray told reporters earlier today. "(Alfredsson) is such a loyal organization guy that we're certainly not going to say no to him, even if it's only in the last week (before the Olympics) that he comes back and plays games. I'd like to hope that if was going to play at that point, that he gets four or five games minimum with us before it happens

"(Sweden) wants to have the best team that they can have. But our concern is for the people in our organization, the people that are being paid a contract by our group. I know the one thing about Alfie is that if he's healthy, he'll play for us and he will not jeopardize anything here. I don't think he'll jeopardize anything by going to Olympics before he's 100 per cent healthy."

Alfredsson's fierce pride won't allow him to accept anything less than a top effort, whether he's wearing Senators colours or the Tre Kronor.

"He's from Canada, isn't he?" Alfredsson said with a grin when told about Murray's concerns. "It's not going to be a decision that if I'm 50-50, I'm going to go anyway. I'm not going to go unless I can play 100 per cent and can help the team. I'm sure they won't want me to go, either, if I'm not playing games (for the Senators) and playing fully before (the Olympics), so I don't think that will be an issue at all."

"It's 4-6 weeks and I've never had a shoulder injury before, but we'll see how it heals up. I'm hoping I'll be good to go way before (the Olympics) ... It's not going to be a decision that if I'm 50-50, I'm going to go anyway. I'm not going to go unless I can play 100 per cent and can help the team. I'm sure (the Senators) won't want me to go, either, if I'm not playing fully before (the Olympics), so I don't think that will be an issue at all." - Daniel Alfredsson
Three other Swedish picks — forwards Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings) and Peter Forsberg (MoDo, Swedish Elitserien) and defenceman Niklas Kronwall (Detroit) — are also currently nursing injuries.

Thirteen of the players tabbed by Gustafsson were members of the gold-medal winning outfit at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Alfredsson (also 1998 and 2002) and Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom are in line to play in their fourth Olympics for the Tre Kronor.

Alfredsson becomes the second Senators player to be chosen to represent his home country in Vancouver. On Christmas Day, defenceman Anton Volchenkov got the call from Russia, which will be among the Olympic gold-medal favourites in 2010.

Slovakia, Latvia and Norway will reveal their Olympic rosters on Tuesday, while Canada makes its highly-anticipated team announcement on Wednesday, along with the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Switzerland. The United States unveils its squad on New Year's Day during the NHL Winter Classic in Boston.

Senators forwards Milan Michalek (Czech Republic) and Jarkko Ruutu (Finland) are considered strong candidates to make their respective country's teams, while centre Mike Fisher has played his way into contention for a Team Canada spot.

The Olympic tournament begins Feb. 16 at Canada Hockey Place.

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