It wasn't a given that Daniel Alfredsson would return to the NHL next season.
First, because information out of his camp had been hard to come by, adding a layer to mystery about his future. Alfredsson himself seemed like he felt the end was near.
Second, because the precarious NHL labor situation made the timing of his announcement — whether he returned or retired — unpredictable.
On Tuesday morning, the mystery was solved: The Senators announced Alfie would return for his 17th season in the NHL, all played with Ottawa.
"Daniel is an exceptional captain whose commitment to his teammates and to the great City of Ottawa is second to none," said owner Eugene Melnyk. "Daniel expects a lot out of himself both on and off the ice so I fully understand how important a decision this was for him and his family. I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome and look forward to Daniel having a great year and adding to his long list of extraordinary achievements with our hockey club."
"I'm excited to get ready for another season," said Alfredsson. "I've been training for about a month and a half and my body feels a lot further ahead of where it was last year at this point. I expect to come into camp stronger and fitter than I did last year."
"I spoke to my family (about the decision to return) and we are all on the same page — if I am motivated to continue to play, then they will be supportive of me playing. It really came down to asking if I had the motivation to come back and be happy about the decision to return. I definitely feel that way and know that I am ready and have more in the tank to give."
Part of the intrigue with Alfredsson was that he has one year left on his 4-year deal, but with a salary of just $1 million. That's Colby Armstrong money!
There was speculation that Alfredsson could receive a one-year contract extension with a large signing bonus to pad that salary; one assumes they'd get that done before the new CBA, if they get it done.
There's no question Alfredsson was reinvigorated by the energy of the Sens' younger players and their surprising success last season. With Nicklas Lidstrom hanging up the skates, it could have been Alfie's time as well; his homecoming validates that the Senators have something that's worthy of his return.