THANK YOU BIBI *CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP* THANK YOU BIBI *CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP*
C’mon, if we could get that “OOO AH SILFVERBERG!” thing going…
She’s letting Alfie baaaaaaaaack, YEAHP.
Many felt they’d already connected the tea leaves on the wall but the mere facts that Daniel Alfredsson was taking so long without word and that he himself seemed so unsure about a return the whole process was starting to get to me. I must admit though, you kind of knew after all that playoff stick smashery and water bottle squishery that Alfie wuddnt gunna go out like that.
Here we are, August’s eve and The Captain comes through again.
To clarify, what I mean by “comes through” is that I feel the exact same way I did about the pre-rebuild idea of him going to a contender at the deadline; that he owes we subjects of Senatorville absolutely bologna. He has done more then his share and can basically do whatever the frig he wants at this point. On the other side, he is my favourite hockey player ever and I WILL TAKE THIS OUTCOME, SIR.
There are of course other very interesting implications that come with the Return of the King. First and foremost, going into the season, the Sens top six does not rely as heavily on Guillaume Fucking Latendresse being a thing anymore (can you tell he and I are off to a great start? I’m sorry but when you play your way off the Minnesota Wild…Prove me wrong, Gui!) so that’s great. Additionally we get to see more of that more of that Turris/Alfie chemistry that we were all getting super into. The other interesting thing I cant help but think here is, what are realistic expectations for Alfredsson at this point? With the exception of a season WHERE HE COULDN’T FEEL HIS LEG, the guy has given us nothing other than superhuman output in his mid to late thirties. Remember all the smack talk during the Rick Nash sweepstakes about Nash being just around his peak and that it’s all down hill from here on out? Yeah, how about Alfie matching his point output at age 39…in 7 fewer games AND finshed a +18 to Nash’s -19!
“But James”, you’d say, “That’s not fair! Nash was on a terrible team!” And then I’d say, “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t realize the Sens were such an elite team that they were picked to come in last in the East.” OKAY, OKAY, STOP FIGHTING PRETEND YOU AND ME! What I’m trying to say is Daniel Alfredsson is an old man (well, he’s 16 years younger than me but you know what I mean) who can, when healthy, apparently still play like a young top 6 with the instincts of a cagey vet. He scored 27 goals last year but goddamn is it really fair to expect a repeat anywhere near that from a guy who’ll turn 40 in December? What if he’s slowed a step and finds most of his time spent on the third line? Is that insulting to the captain? Do you have to keep him top six out of respect or is he happy to kill penalties at this point?
Judging by that season where Alfie had to shut it down due to injury, even with his speed greatly diminished he is such a clever possession player that he can find different avenues to be an effective part of the team’s offense. I suppose the easy way out is at this point, like mentioned above, Alfredsson sets his own expectations and we chant his name accordingly. What I would LOVELOVELOVELOVE to see this year is someone on the squad, clearly step up and make me less nervous about the season following this one. I don’t care if it’s Peter Regin besting the hell out of his up to now rather unimpressive career stats (look the guy up, not very good for a supposed top six player), Latendresse regaining his previous around 30 points at best touch (uhh, why did we trade Nick Foligno and pick up a guy with injury problems again? Oh yeah, terrible defence, okay), OR one of the cherubs in Binghamton showing that yes, they are developing quite nicely. If Silfverberg makes the team (book it), I will not put the same lofty-ish expectations on an NHL rookie. But should the likes of Greening, Latendresse, Regin, Michalek, etc fail to take the pressure off of Alfie, expect the Captain to try to do it all himself, not to mention the subsequent way too harsh a spotlight that will be placed on young Jakob to be the new team savior should things go south.
Having watched Alfie his whole career its not him I’m worried about. He’s been playing well above his level for quite some time. What I’m worried about is that the time for a lot of the other players vying for a top 6 role playing below their expected level is fast running out.
We’ll have to wait one more year to see just how unbelievably, scarily important Alfredsson is to this team. Case in point: Alfie had the best CORSI, Relative CORSI, and QOC rating of any Senator over 30 games played last season. At 39 years old. Better than Jason Spezza. Better than Norris winning Erik Karlsson. He can put up points, but it’s his unparalleled play without the puck that makes him an indispensible leader to a team full of rookies. If there’s hope of making the playoffs again this year, Alfie is where that hope starts.
Another amazing thing about him is how productive he’s been compared to other like-aged individuals. Look at Mike Modano’s ridiculous dalliance with Detroit. Mats Sundin looked like a boat anchor in Vancouver. Keith Tckachuk basically retired and then kept playing anyway. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to say that Alfredsson seems like he can produce not only this season, but past it. He probably wants to raise his kids or something, but just sayin': he hasn’t even hit the play-on-the-fourth-line, be-a-good-guy-in-the-room, ten-minutes-a-night phase of his career. If he produced at this level and was a UFA five years younger he would have been one of the most sought after players in the league this summer. Are you seeing what Shane Doan is asking for?
I want to take this moment to obviously celebrate dude’s ascendency to royalty status, and the fact that if he ran for mayor he’d probably win with 98% of the vote. But can I raise an ugly, if intriguing question? Given that this is absolutely, positively the last season he’ll play, does the team entertain a trade if it’s well out of the playoffs? I mean, we have this discussion every year so feel free to just pour Tang on your keyboard now if you don’t wanna hear it. But considering this is really, really, super-gosh honestly THE LAST YEAR…now does he want to go to a contender and try to win that Cup? If he’s earned the right to do anything, certainly that has to be on the long-list of possibilities.
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to another year of chanting Alfie every time the clock reaches 11:11, and of seeing this guy come over the boards during every crucial power play and penalty kill. I have a lot of doubts about next season, but know is that his final NHL game is gonna be a tear jerker.