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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Murray: Alfie won't do anything to jeopardize Sens


BOSTON -- I've arrived in Beantown and wasn't disappointed when I saw the ice surface at Fenway Park today. Brilliant.

This year's event, the fourth NHL outdoor game, has some Olympic overtones to it with Team Canada announcing its roster Wednesday and Team USA doing it right here at Fenway Park after Friday's game.

But it's Sweden I want to touch on today and, more specifically, Daniel Alfredsson. I had a chance to speak with Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray about what could be an interesting situation with his team captain.

Murray and Alfredsson have a tremendous relationship and will need to draw on that in four to six weeks when the veteran star winger is scheduled to return from a shoulder injury. If it's six weeks, it will be right on the eve of the Olympic Games, and that makes the Sens nervous.

"That's the whole thing, it's right on the bubble," Murray told ESPN.com from the world junior championships in Saskatchewan.

So Murray and Alfredsson had a chat a few days ago to make sure everybody is on the same wavelength.

"You know full well that we're not going to hold Alfredsson back if he is healthy and ready to go. That's not our intent," Murray said. "In talking to Alfie, I just wanted to make sure that he's back playing and somewhat healthy before he makes a commitment to go to there and have any further possible aggravation or whatever it may be. He's a very caring guy. He's a great team guy. He wouldn't do it to jeopardize anything with our franchise, I know that. But he does want to play in the Olympics. He cares greatly, and he knows it's probably his last kick at it."

If there's an organization that is sensitive about the Olympic injury risk, it's the Senators. They lost goalie Dominik Hasek for the season after he ripped his groin at the 2006 Games in Torino. Ottawa had Cup hopes that season, but it never rebounded from his loss and was knocked out in the second round by Buffalo. If Alfredsson were to further damage his shoulder in Vancouver, the Sens' bubble playoff hopes would implode.

So, it can be an awkward situation, but I think because of the bond between the GM and captain, they'll make the right call.

The Detroit Red Wings were fearful of having that same kind of situation with Johan Franzen, but Sweden did not name the injured winger to its 2010 squad.

And what of Paul Martin, the hugely talented New Jersey Devils blueliner who had a setback and is out at least another four weeks? What will Team USA do after it announces its roster Friday? I believe it will name Martin to the team and figure out later how he's doing in his recovery and whether he's played his way back to the proper level needed to play in the Olympics.

Injuries likely will continue to play a major role in the lead-up to the Feb. 15 deadline to submit final rosters on the eve of the Olympic men's hockey tournament. It's been the season of the injury in the NHL, after all, and it's making the Olympic management teams nervous. Not to mention NHL GMs and coaches, who want their players back in one piece.