Could the NHL's longest-serving captain really be about to pull the 'C' off his jersey and hang up his skates?
Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson will tell you that he hasn't made up his mind yet as to whether he'll return for a another season at ScotiaBank Place.
The 39-year-old said he’s going to take time to consider his future and contemplate whether it might be time to retire after 17 years in an Ottawa uniform.
"Not yet," he said when asked if he'd considered whether Thursday night's emotional game seven loss to the New York Rangers was his last game. “I’ll spend some time with the family, see how I feel physically and mentally."
Alfredsson said he plans on taking stock of whether he's fit enough and has enough competitive fire to undertake his typically rigorous off-season preparations, and that above all "I'll be honest with myself."
That Alfredsson's family wasn't present at Madison Square Garden suggests he'll play again, but his performance in game seven - he scored Ottawa's only goal and was their best player along with goalie Craig Anderson - also had a valedictory feel.
Were he to retire the classy Swede would be missed.
"It's his decision, obviously," said Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson, who stayed with Alfredsson's family during his first NHL seasons. "But I really hope he doesn't (retire)."
Head coach Paul MacLean was asked about what he can do to entice Alfredsson into returning, and said “that’s up to Daniel . . . but I know he’s had fun, and if you can have fun playing hockey you usually don’t stop.”
There will be speculation that Alfredsson, 39, may take his lead from his good friend and countryman, the Red Wings' peerless Nicklas Lidstrom, who has said he will decide on his future by July 1.
Less likely is the possibility that he will keep the hockey world guessing, like Swedish icon and former national teammate Mats Sundin - who has previously dispensed advice to both Alfredsson and Lidstrom.
Alfredsson has one year left on his four-year, $19.5 million contract, but the pact was front-loaded and his actual salary for next season is in the neighbourhood of $1 million - if he comes back it won't be for the money.
The winger had a productive season in 2011-12, scoring 27 goals, and is one of three nominees for the Bill Masterton Trophy awarded for perseverance in hockey.
He is Ottawa's all-time leading scorer, having scored 416 goals and 1,082 points in 1,131 games.Report Typo/Error