TORONTO -- Daniel Alfredsson smiled as he watched the Hockey Hall of Fame pregame ceremony Saturday night.
"I wondered if this happened to me in Toronto, what I would say," he said with a laugh.
To this day, the Ottawa Senators captain is still booed every time he touches the puck in these parts for a hit from behind on Darcy Tucker during the 2002 playoffs. Leafs fans will surely have forgiven him if and when he gets the Hockey Hall nod.
Which brings us to the next question: just how much hockey is left in his All-Star career? He turns 39 next month; and while he does have another year left on his deal, he needs to see how the season goes before he commits for 2012-13.
"It's more about how I feel and how I play this year," Alfredsson said Saturday night after a 5-2 win over the rival Leafs. "You want to feel like you can contribute and it's still fun to play. If I do, if I'm still healthy, I have every intention to play another year. But if my body says it's too much, I'll have to consider it [retirement]. Right now, I'm very open."
Not that it's paramount on his mind, but it's noteworthy to point out his salary drops from $4.5 million this season to $1 million next year.
"I hope he does come back," Sens GM Bryan Murray told ESPN.com before Saturday's game. "At the end of the contract, the level of dollars at that point isn't quite what it is today. But it would depend, No. 1, on how he feels and how he plays this year, and No. 2, how he thinks we're progressing in what we're trying to do."
As the Feb. 27 trade deadline approaches, if the rebuilding Senators (as expected) aren't contending for a playoff spot, other teams will no doubt come calling on Alfredsson. We asked the classy Swede if he'd consider taking a page out of Ray Bourque's playbook and chase a Stanley Cup opportunity elsewhere with the tock ticking on a career that still void of one.
"It's a totally justifiable question," Alfredsson said. "My stance, now anyway, is that I'm with Ottawa and I'm here to stay. Would I like to win a Cup? Of course. I've had my chances in Ottawa. I don't know if it feels that it's justified to try and go to another team and try to win it. ... We built something in Ottawa. I've been part of so many things, through many ups and downs, and I want to be part of this, too. That's where I am right now."
And it's clear it is up to Alfredsson.
"I suspect, near the deadline, there might be some inquiries," said Murray. "It would be his call. ... I guess if he ever came to me and said, 'I'd like to have a chance to do that,' it would be hard to say no. I can't imagine that would be the case, but you never know in March what goes through his head."
Murray has a constant dialogue with his captain about the team's plans and development of its key young players. The GM views Alfredsson has a key component in bringing those kids along.
"I had lunch with him today," said Murray. "He sees where we're going. We talked about some of the young guys and where we have to get to with a couple of them, what they need to do. Alfie's very in tune with that. He's a big help and talks to these guys."
Another important factor in all of this is the Senators hold Alfredsson in such high esteem, they've basically told him there is a job waiting for him within the organization after his playing days are done.
"I'm sure if he wants to stay in Ottawa for a long time and be part of the organization, [owner] Eugene [Melnyk] has made it clear that would be the case," said Murray.
"No, I never thought that," Alfredsson said.
He missed six games and returned Friday night in Buffalo.
"Since Sunday, I've been feeling good. Maybe leg-wise I'm not where I should be, but otherwise I feel good."