The Ottawa Senators are going to learn to live without Daniel Alfredsson for at least the next little while.
The Senators captain suffered a concussion after taking a check to the head from New York Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski last Saturday. Wolski was penalized on the play, but was not suspended
Alfredsson spoke about the hit and how he's feeling for the first time Thursday.
“It's the first time I've had a concussion and it feels different,” Alfredsson said. “I haven't really had any headaches, which is good, but I still have symptoms and I haven't done any exercise since Saturday.”
The 38-year-old is hopeful he can return soon, but was reluctant to make any predictions.
“I don't think you can (put a timeline on a return),” Alfredsson said. “At home with the kids if I do too much I get lightheaded, a little dizzy and I need to sit down for a bit and then I feel OK again. Until that's gone I'm not going to do anything physically.”
The Senators were disappointed that Wolski escaped punishment and the explanation from NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan did little to help. Alfredsson said he spoke to Shanahan about the incident by telephone.
“He explained their position and the process they went through with not going anywhere further with this and I said I understood,” Alfredsson said. “I don't totally agree, but I think no matter what they do they're going to get (grief).
“I thought he maybe could have avoided the whole situation and they think it's accidental. But I have no problem with their decision.”
Alfredsson said understands Shanahan's position and added players have to also be held accountable.
“It's a fine line where my belief is that the players out there have to responsible for yourself and your own situation. I could have avoided it if I'm more aware and I think it's always the responsibility of the player,” he said. “If we get to the point where players know that if I'm in this position no one's going to be able to touch me then you'll exploit that and use that, so you have to be aware at all times.
“If it's deliberate hits to the head, they've shown that they will take action and they're not going to get everything right but I think they're on the right path.”
Shanahan explained his decision for not suspending Wolski in a video posted on NHL.com.
“Wolski's not a dirty player, and has no history of being a dirty player. There are collisions that occur on the ice where, unfortunately, one player sees it just prior,” Shanahan said. “On this play here, Wolski has got to get out to his point. You see here, (Marian) Gaborik, the left-winger, has to come all the way to Wolski's point on the right side because Wolski's not there. (Wolski) ran into Alfredsson trying to get there.
“We've seen enough of these now — and I don't like these — but seen enough of them where when one player sees (the hit) just prior, he tenses up. And sometimes he even leans in, because he's bracing for an impact. When both guys see it, it's two guys tensing up and they bounce off each other and everybody's fine. It's really unfortunate here, when one player doesn't see it and the other guy does.”
There's little doubt the Senators will miss having Alfredsson in the lineup. In ten games, he has four goals and seven points, but it's his presence on the ice and in the locker-room the team will miss most.
“He's a leader by example and he goes out and plays 100 per cent and gives it everything he's got,” defenceman Chris Phillips said. “He's an offensive guy, but he'll go out and he's forechecking, he's hitting, he's doing things he wants everyone else to be doing.
“He's a great leader that way. He's very important to the success of this team.”
Senators coach Paul MacLean is hopeful Alfredsson won't be sidelined for too long, but in the interim he's looking for other players to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Injuries happen all the time in the course of a season and you're going to lose your best players and other players,” MacLean said. “I always like to say it's an opportunity for someone to step up and play at a different spot and do a good job for us.”
The Senators host the Montreal Canadiens on Friday before welcoming the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.