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January 8, 2008

Daniel Alfredsson

DAVID KEON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm David Keon of the in National Hockey League's public relations department and I'd like to welcome you to our call. With us we have Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. Thanks to Daniel for taking the time today to answer your questions and thanks to Phil Legault of the Senators public relations department for arranging the call.
This morning it was announced that Daniel has been voted to the starting lineup for the 2008 NHL All-Star Game to be played in Atlanta the weekend of January 26-27. He's currently tied for fifth place in league scoring with teammate Dany Heatley, each of them having 25 goals and 30 assists for 55 points.
Daniel holds the franchise records for games played, goal assists and points in both the regular season and playoffs and has served as team captain since 1999/2000, tied with Montréal's Saku Koivu, trailing only Joe Sakic of Colorado and Mats Sundin for the longest tenure as a team captain.
With a record of 27-10-4 for 58 points, the Senators lead the Eastern Conference and trail only the Detroit Red Wings in the overall NHL standings. Ottawa hosts Buffalo on Thursday and then the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
Thanks to Daniel for taking the time today to answer your questions. We'll open it up for questions now.

Q. There aren't many lines in today's National Hockey League where three players stay together for any longer than about a week and a half. You got pretty much the one line, outside of maybe Datsyuk and Zetterberg and Holmstrom, if he's healthy. Why do you think that is in today's NHL where one line can't stay together?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, I think the salary cap has something to do with it. You know, you probably have two, three top forwards. Mostly you want to spread out the scoring as much as you can.
I think in our case, it's been, you know, I think at times the coach wants to split us up, at the same time we've been playing so well together that it's hard to do, too. I think the same thing goes for the Zetterberg line. I mean, when you're playing that well together, you know, you don't mess with that.
I think the salary cap is a big reason why.

Q. In Ottawa, do they need some secondary scoring other than yourself?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, I think we've been getting more and more throughout the season. Lately 9indiscernible) has been playing really good, scoring a lot of big goals. Vermette has chipped in where we needed. Randy Robitaille same thing. I think on every team's wish list is to get another top six forward, gets to make the team that much deeper. Bryan Murray said in the meeting for us as well that's on his list, too.

Q. Just wondering, you've been to four All-Star games before. Does this mean any more to you that you were actually voted in, that it comes from the fans? Is that more of a recognition of who you are around the league do you think?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, it is more of a recognition, that's no question. I don't know if it means more. When you're there I think at the All-Star weekend, it's a lot of fun no matter how you get into it. I've always enjoyed mine. It's been a pleasure, you know, to mix with the best players in the league, check out their sticks, what equipment they're using, kind of mingle a little bit.
But, yeah, obviously I'm very humbled by being recognized as a starter.

Q. For those of us who weren't around the neighborhood of the nation's capital yesterday, how was it wearing the Canada sweater?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It was pretty good. Obviously I would have wished that I won that bet. I liked my odds going into the game. It was definitely a close one.
There's never any shame putting on a Canadian jersey. It didn't feel too bad.

Q. As captain, do you usually enjoy watching a goaltender fight the team's tough guy?

Q. Is that something you like seeing?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Not every day (laughter). But, you know, once in a while I don't think it hurts. You know, I know they're good friends outside the ice. Sometimes things flare up. I think this is one of those times. It's not a big deal inside our locker room.

Q. As captain, do you take it upon yourself to say anything to either of the guys, We're kind of on the same team?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, they know they're on the same team. We know that. I mean, at the same time, in practice it's competitive. You know, for some reasons, we had a long, hard skate yesterday. I'm sure that was a factor. Accidental contact that kind of got into more than that.
I like it when players have the edge for practice as well.

Q. Have you been on a team where that's happened before?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, it's happened before, for sure.

Q. John Paddock seemed to hit the ground running and you seemed to respond very well to him this year. Can you tell us a little bit about the coaching change, how it's influencing the team.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Style-wise, you know, the system we play, it hasn't been a big change. I think, you know, we've practiced harder under John. I think he made it clear throughout the summer, making calls to everybody, that he expected everybody to, you know, get in real good shape come the season because he knew it was going to be a tough, go long in the playoffs, starting up again, mentally and physically.
We were pretty well prepared physically, I think. I think everybody responded well to that challenge. That's probably one of the reasons why we started so well. Yeah, he's been around the league a long time. He's seen all different situations. So he kind of took over after Bryan and it's gone real smoothly.

Q. What did the Senators learn in the Stanley Cup finals last year?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Oh, what did we learn? I don't know if you can pinpoint anything. You know, what bothers me when you look back at it is Game 1. We're up 2-1, and we have a five-on-three for a minute and we don't score. We score there, it's a totally different ballgame.
I don't know if we learned anything specifically you can say this is not going to happen again. Sometimes it's just a very small margin. Once we got down 2-0 in games, it's tough to come back. You need to still win probably when your on the road like that. The biggest thing is hopefully this year we can put ourselves in a better position, that if we go there again, we will start at home.

Q. Do you consider the Red Wings the target for all teams this year or are you just happen to play in different conferences?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, we happen to play in a different conference, but I'm not sure if we feel ourselves the team to beat. We know we're a good team. We're just try to be competitive every night. I think we take a lot of pride in preparing, giving our best shot every night. If we do that, we know we have enough talent to win a lot of games.
It's so close in this league now that, you know, if you're not ready or if you miss 10, 15 minutes in the period, you're probably going to lose that game. You know, put ourselves in a good position going into the playoffs, then anything can happen.

Q. If you were now the coach having to select the other 15 players to fill the Eastern Conference All-Star Game, how many of your teammates would you pick from Ottawa?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: If it was my say?

Q. Yes.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, I'd pick Spezza, Heatley and Phillips.

Q. Phillips is not a guy you hear every day. Do you want to talk about his contribution to the team?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, yeah, I'd probably pick him. I don't know if he'd be appreciated in the All-Star Game as much as Spezza and Heatley. He's more of a shut-down guy. Try to disrupt the skill players more. But he's just a guy that comes to work, works hard every day. Like you said, you don't hear about him much, but we definitely know how much he means for us.

Q. Does it concern you at all that not all that long after Steve Downie was suspended for 20 games for what he did, that he gets in trouble again for another questionable play, that maybe some guys don't learn from their punishment?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don't know. I mean, I don't know what kind of player. I just heard and read what kind of player he is. I'm sure the league's going to do whatever they think is right. Whatever actions you take, you have to be responsible. He's definitely on the short list for the league now. So, I mean, if he does anything, they're going to take care of it.
I think the league has done a good job so far, and I think they'll continue to do that.

Q. Do you think they're protecting other players enough from players who may play on the wrong side of that edge?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think they do. They definitely made a statement here during this season. I think it's not going to be tolerated, you know, to do plays with the intent to injure other players. That's the way I think it should be. I mean, I don't think the players should have to, you know, retaliate or take care of the business themselves unless it's in that game it happened. It's the league's job to discipline everybody for their actions. It's not always an easy job, but it's a very important one.

Q. Is it refreshing for you to see that eight of the 12 starting players are starting the All-Star game for the first time?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don't know. Maybe. I think, you know, obviously we've got some really good players in the league. I think it's not often we've seen so many good young players, you know, coming up and really dominating, I think pushing everybody throughout the league. Sidney has been a prime example of that. Lecavalier as well. We have Heatley and Spezza on our team, young guys that are interesting to watch and fun to watch. So in that sense, it's refreshing, yes.

Q. It's funny that the one skater on your side that has the All-Star starting experience is 20 years old.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, it's pretty amazing. He's obviously a pretty special player. There's not a lot of times you're going to see a 20-year-old starting the second game.

Q. With the benefit of time of about two weeks now, how would you sort of assess the situation with Emery? Was it threatening to become a distraction or do you feel the media, with how good the team has been this year, the media fixated on your goalies too much, whether it is Gerber's slump or Emery's outbursts?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I mean, in Canada, in the NHL, you're going to be under the microscope. All the little things are going to be made a little bit bigger. I think for us it's been a much improved situation where Ray has really put a bigger effort into coming to the rink every day and working hard. That's I think what the coaches are looking for, too, for him to get more ice time, for him to play more. He needed to show them that he wanted to do that, which goes for any player, but especially a goalie. Because in practice, too, it's never fun if you go down to the goalie, you're going to shoot and he's not really trying. It's been a much improved situation for us.

Q. I wanted to ask for a comment on the line you'll be on for the All-Star Game with Crosby and Lecavalier. Are they going to be able to keep up with you?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don't know if it's the other way around or not (laughter). I'm looking forward to it, there's no question. I mean, I'm pretty spoiled waking up every day and going to the rink, have Spezza in the middle and Heatley on the other side. You know, not a lot of players that are that fortunate.
But it's going to be, you know, a lot of fun to play with Sidney and Vincent, there's no question, especially seeing what kind of years they're having. We played Tampa Bay here the other day. The skill that Vincent has is pretty amazing and fun to watch. It's going to be nice to be up close and on the ice at the same time.

Q. Last year in Dallas we had a game 12-9, 21 goals. If you remember back to Denver, it was 14-12, 26 goals. When we were up in St. Paul we had the 6-4 game. What happen to change an All-Star Game from a fun skate, everybody having fun, to an intense game where you really want to win? That's happened a couple times in recent years.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, I think if it runs away early, I don't think that's good. If one team gets a four- or five-goal lead. I think if it stays close through the first period, you're going to see a real good game. There's no question.
You know, like you said, I played in the one in St. Paul. That was I thought a really good game. You can tell it's not too competitive early on. You kind of feel each other out. Once you get closer, you want to win. I mean, it's just nature that takes over. And hopefully that's what's going to happen in Atlanta.

Q. Talk about how far Henrik Zetterberg has come in his NHL career. When he first came in, seemed all he wanted to do was pass. Now he like to shoot. I don't know if he passed because Hull was on his line.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: That probably has to factor that Brett is not there anymore.
I think, too, he's gained confidence in himself. You know, he's obviously a great passer, but I think he's still confident that if he shoots he can score, too. Datsyuk is kind of the same kind of player, likes to pass first, shoot second. Looks like Henrik is taking on that role, trying to be more of a goal-scorer. When you get results, too, it's rewarding and you see he should shoot even more because if you don't shoot, you're not going to score, like the old saying goes.
They know on their line, too, where Holmstrom is going to be whenever they get the puck. Usually he helps out as well.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much, Daniel, for your time today.

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