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September 19, 2008

Daniel Alfredsson

DAVID KEON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's Public Relations Department. With us, we have Ottawa Senators' Captain Daniel Alfredsson. Thanks to Daniel for joining us today, and thanks to the Senators' Public Relations Department for helping to set up the call.
Ottawa opened camp on Tuesday of this week. Daniel is preparing for his 13th NHL season, all of which he's played with the Senators. It will be his ninth as team captain. He's coming off a season where he finished ninth overall in National Hockey League scoring with 89 points on 40 goals and 49 assists, appearing in 70 games. With his fourth consecutive 80-point season, and his eighth consecutive 20-goal season, Daniel holds the franchise records for games played, goals assists, and points in both regular season play and in the playoffs.
Ottawa opens the exhibition schedule tomorrow at ScotiaBank Place against the New York Rangers, and play four more preseason games in North America before they head to Daniel's hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, where they'll meet his former team Frolunda on October 2nd in an exhibition game.
The Sens will then open the regular season with two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Globe Arena in Stockholm October 4 and 5th - part of the Bridgestone Premier 2008. Thanks to Daniel for taking the time to join us today and answer your questions.

Q. You were very unlucky with injuries last season. How did those injuries affect your off-season training routine?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Not much, to be honest. I had an MCL sprain in my right knee, and I had a little bit of the whiplash.
But I had, well, I took three weeks off. Then I started rehab, and you know, after another two weeks I was doing all the exercises. It didn't affect my off-season training much at all.

Q. After 12 seasons, you still remain one of the best players in the NHL. Do you feel there is still potential for improvement in your game, and if so, in which areas?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think power play. It's not only individual, but the power play can be better. I think it's just that we'll get more goals and points out of that. That's one thing that me, myself needs to be better at, and we as a team as well. That's probably the biggest thing.

Q. Being from Pittsburgh and looking ahead to the games in Sweden, can you talk a little about what that means to you? And also just kind of give us an idea how big hockey is in Sweden maybe compared to Canada growing up or how big these games are going to be for the people there?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: You can't compare hockey in Canada to, I guess, anywhere in the world. But hockey's just a big sport. Probably second to soccer, which is the biggest sport without question, but hockey's big. Especially now with the coverage and the media with the internet, there's a lot more NHL games that are played over in Europe and Sweden compared to when I was younger.
The interest we have from the Swedish media follows us regularly over here. Especially now coming over and playing an exhibition game for my old team, which I think will generate a lot of interest. Then playing two regular season games which everybody will look forward to instead of just being an exhibition game.
So I think it's going to be really big, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun for everybody involved to go over there.

Q. You're going to be the first European captain to lead the team in a regular league game in Europe. How special is that for you personally?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I didn't even know. I didn't think about it before you mentioned it. But I think it's going to be, you know, not only am I the captain, but an older player that's been over in Canada for a long time.
You know, I have my roots here pretty much being in the same city for the 12 years I've been here.
It's going to be a really great experience for myself, I think, coming home to my hometown and then, obviously, to Stockholm. Like I said, the media follows the NHL pretty closely, but to be able to show off ourselves in front of them, I think it's going to be special.

Q. I have a question regarding one of your country men, Patric Hornqvist, is highly touted and the Nashville Predators are expecting a lot from him this year. I wondered if you have gotten to see him play at all in any of the international competitions, and if so, have you been impressed by what you've seen?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I have not seen. I've heard of him, but I haven't seen him play, no. I've heard good things. Hopefully he can help out Nashville, but I don't know much about him.

Q. I'm curious, you've obviously played in the NHL for a long time. But playing in your home country as an NHL-er, is this going to be a different feeling for you when you play those two games?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It will be, for sure. You know, it's not a home game in the sense that, you know we played there regularly. But at the same time, it's my home and I played a lot of games in Stockholm, in the Swedish League and then with the National Team as well.
So there are a lot of memories that are involved. I thought for sure I wouldn't be able to go back and relive it. But this is a great opportunity to do that. You know, playing in front of Swedish fans, it's definitely something I'm looking forward to.

Q. Bill Daley recently said in an interview that the NHL could possibly be looking at expansion into Europe, and Stockholm was mentioned as one of the possible destinations. I wanted your reaction on the NHL possibly expanding to Sweden?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, I think it's a good way to test out the market and see the interest that we can create and show off our game for Europe.
You know, I see it as a possibility. I think it's still a long shot. But I know I won't be playing if that happens. That's a lot of travel and logistics that have to be sorted out. But, obviously, it would be pretty neat to see it happen, but I'm not sure it will.

Q. Hypothetically, obviously, do you think Sweden could support an NHL team?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, without a question.

Q. I'm doing a piece on hockey moms. With you going home to play, I'm wondering if you could reflect on the way your mother helped you in your career? I know your dad coached you, but what way did your mother help you as a player?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: She's a very stubborn woman. I've taken that from her, and that's definitely helped me through my career. As far as her role, obviously, she was always there watching all of the games. You know, making sure that when you came home the laundry was done. You know, like you said, dad probably got more of it because they drive you there to the rink. I think all players need that mom to be there all the time and probably tell dad to layoff the yelling.
She played a big role, and I definitely appreciate what she's done for me.

Q. What is her name, please?

Q. Thanks for taking the time. I appreciate it. I'm wondering, you spoke a little bit about going to Stockholm and playing those regular season games. Can you talk about your own personal feelings about going to Frolunda to play against the team you grew up with where you're such a big hero to that city?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I think I played for Frolunda for three years, and previously I went to high school right across the street from where the arena is.
I skated in that rink for four years, twice in the morning, and twice each week in the mornings. So I have a lot of memories going back to that.
I played there for a couple of month, three, four months during the lockout which was a really fun time as well. But coming back to Ottawa, which most people hadn't seen me with Ottawa, so to be able to play a game in front of the home crowd, I think it will be a special night.

Q. I saw that you were separated from Spezza and Heatley during the first camps. Will it be so during the season as well?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think we're going to try to be separated. I mean, I think we can always go back. But I think our new coach, Craig Hartsburg, would like us to find more balance throughout the lineup, more balanced scoring.
We're going to try different combinations. We know how well Jason and Danny can play together, and hopefully I can find a couple of good line mates as well that can take pressure off them and create offense. If we can do that, I think we can have three lines that can contribute offensively, and that takes pressure off everybody.

Q. What is your opinion about the team this year compared to last year?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: We have much more grit this year, I think. Our manager is definitely kind of had a plan when he signed new guys and got rid of some of the other ones. Brought more character people. You know, Smith, Jarkko Ruutu, just to mention a couple.
We'll probably be a little tougher to play against physically than we have in the past. We've always played with a lot of skill and puck possession, and hopefully can maintain that. But at the same time can be a little grittier.

Q. I'm just wondering, what are your first impressions of Coach Hartsburg?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: They're very good. It's been three practices. In the practices have been hard, but they've been fun. I mean, it's a lot of handling the puck, a lot of passing. It's just not, you know, skating up-and-down the ice. It's a lot of thinking involved.
He hasn't coached any games yet. But from the three practices we've had, it's been -- he makes sure it's a high, high tempo and not on too long. But we work hard when we're on, so it's been fun.

Q. How much of a challenge do you think it's going to be to overcome the loss of Meszaros, Redden on the blue line?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I'm not sure if we can. It's always tough to tell how much we're going to need. You don't know until you miss them how much you're going to miss them, I guess.
We brought in some good character. We've got Kuba who is good with the puck. Jason Smith is going to give us more grit and help our penalty killing for sure.
So it's going to be tough to replace him. I think the way coach wants us to play we're going to be more aggressive and force turnovers a little bit higher than we did probably last year. That will probably help our defense.

Q. What is your take on on Pittsburgh this year? They have done a makeover and gotten some new players and you guys played them in the playoffs in the first round the last two years.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think they're still going to be a tough team. It's tough to not regard them as a top team when they have Crosby, Malkin, and Staal, the first three centermen. That's pretty impressive there. Obviously, fairly easy to build a team around that.
But they've got some guys that they're probably going to have a tough time replacing right away and finding that chemistry that they had. Then again, who knows.
Fleury kind of stepped into his own last year, and probably gave him a lot of confidence. He's probably going to make up for some of the mistakes they made. So they'll be a tough team in that conference.
DAVID KEON: Thanks to Daniel for his time today.

End of FastScripts

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