There won’t be a dry eye in the house when this is raised to the rafters tomorrow night.
Well, the day has finally arrived.
Daniel Alfredsson is retiring. Captain of the team for 14 years. Franchise leader in points with 1108, and it’s not even close. (Second is Spezza with 687.) Franchise leader in goals (426) and assists (682). The clutchiest goal scorer to ever clutch. He scored arguably the biggest goal in franchise history:
Sure, he went to another team for a season, but that’s no biggie in my mind. Modano did it. Iginla did it. Lacavalier and St. Louis did it. And Alfie did it after took well under market value for several years of his career, played in a smaller market when he could have bolted to the Wings years earlier, was counted on well into his late 30s to be the centerpiece of the team and then had to take shit for it when he couldn’t single-handedly take them to victory. There’s no bad blood at all. Didn’t you watch Interstellar? Love is like time and gravity. It’s in space and we’re running out of food.
Alfie missed a season-and-a-half to labor stoppages in the prime of his career and when the team was highly competitive, meaning he should be well over his career 1157 points and maybe even have that elusive Cup. To me, his longevity, productivity, and importance to the Ottawa community clearly puts him in the Hall of Fame, even if he never won a major award. (I guess the Calder counts, doesn’t it?)
Less tangibly, though, I really began to understand his contributions, and develop a new appreciation for Alfredsson after he left. Watching the current iteration of the Ottawa Senators without a consistent, two-way force like Alfredsson on the ice to slow down and dictate the flow of play has been a real eye-opener, sort of like how food looks on the front of the frozen dinner box v. how it looks after you cook it. He was a steadying hand, asked to guide a young franchise to stability, then asked to raise his game when the window of contention was open, then asked once again to be a leader when the team went into a rebuild. He did it all without complaint, even apologizing at times.
When I think back on the years with Alfredsson as captain, I think of two things: 1) the number of times he shouldered the blame for the team not beating the Leafs or winning a Cup, 2) all the little times in between those big moments, all the dumb little games in late February against the Hurricanes or Columbus or whoever when Alfredsson would pull out a late-game tying goal, or single-handedly lead the rush after a lethargic period, or score shorthanded and change the tone of the game.
He’s important to the team, obviously, but there’s just no getting away from the fact that he was also a really, really good hockey player. The whole league is losing out on a star, here, not just Senators fans.
First off, let me unnecessarily point out that I think Daniel Alfredsson is the greatest player in Ottawa Senators history. Bar none. Maybe a few players with more raw talent have graced/disgraced our roster over the years but in terms of that all encompassing, only semi-tangible “greatness”? The Greatest. All you Punch Broadbent backers out there can jump in a lake. Punch just wasn’t the same player after the Great War when the National Hockey Association changed to the National Hockey League. Plus you have to factor in his decision to holdout for most of the 1921 season! YOU HAVE TO FACTOR IN THE 1921 HOLDOUT. I don’t need to go over that as we’ve all had this argument a million times over a Manhattan (or 3, epic olde tyme LOLz) at the speakeasy! But let’s sober up and have a Phosphate down at the soda fountain before we dig into this pressing Alfie discussion:
First, I will address the red elephant with wheels and wings in the room with the airing of grievances.
WARNING: Talk Might Get Real At Some Points. Reader discretion is advised (j/k, no one is reading at this point).
In his last few years with the Sens, in the post-Cup Final decline, the question would periodically arise, “Will Alfie leave at the trade deadline for his chance to play for a true Cup contender?”
This was understandably a question that would put many Ottawa fans on the defensive (WHAT? NOT OTTAWA FANS! IT’S ALMOST LIKE WE’RE INSECURE TO THE POINT THAT WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE PUSHED AROUND BY THE FANS OF ANOTHER ONTARIO TEAM AS IFTHEY’RE NOT THE ONES BACKING ONE OF THE MOST EMBARRASSING SPORTS TEAMS OF THE PAST HALF CENTURY…see, I for one, am totally chill about it). What was I talking about? Oh yeah, so in years past when the question would arise about how I’d feel about Alfie potentially moving on in the twilight of his career for a shot at the Cup, I would wholeheartedly say that I had no problem with it. Sure, I’d love to see him retire as a Senator but recognizing where the team was at and most importantly that he did more, gave more to the franchise than any other player in our history? He didn’t owe us a God. Damn. Thing…Then it actually happened and when it did, it was not the charming trade deadline “Run along to the Kings/Blackhawks/Definitely Western Team…you go get that Cup you’ve so earned…………….goodnight sweet prince” situation I had anticipated it would be.
Instead, it was a brief, bitter contract dispute and krthn,sbjkbjdgsdlak;jfgkjdfgl;skdfjgdfkjvnsdkd;f.
What fucked me up most about it was the way that it all went down. He’s a human being and all but it just felt so very un-Alfie. Now, like you’re saying Varada, Alfie did not always make a ton of money here. It was often the case that in order to help the team to retain other star players and stay within the cap (‘MEMBER THEM DAYZ?!) he would take a bit of a “hometown” discount on his deals. He’s from Gothenburg but I digress, he sacrificed. And believe me, the Captain sacrificed a ton of money, after all, he’d only made about $62,000,000 in salary in his career by 2013. Let’s be realistic with ONLY 62 million dollars (not counting any endorsements or holdings and investments) in the bank, you’ve got to think of that college fund for little Fenixx Alfredsson at that stage in life. What’s that? College is free in Sweden? Let’s regain our focus.
K, the part that always bugged me about Alfie and the Sens ugly parting of ways was that I found overall Alfie got a COMPLETE pass. Like the split was entirely the organization’s doing. As I said, Alfie is a human, but he had said to the press in Sweden that he’d re-sign with the Sens and play another year one day before the split occurred.
Okay, so you got low balled and were insulted. That’s fine but all due respect, isn’t that a bit how negotiating with a budget team like the Sens works? I get it that they’re supposed to pony up for the long serving captain but I’m fairly certain they weren’t like “Let’s do 1 million dollars again.” For me, the speed that it all went down indicates that he did not even present a counter-offer but rather that when he didn’t get what he wanted, he just bolted. Bolted for a a whooping 5.5 million dollareedoos BTMFingW. As a huge Alfredsson fan, I must personally admit my reaction to his side of it was, “Cool, you didn’t get the number you were expecting so thanks for basically not even negotiating and jumping ship in one day after 17 years here.” Now, there’s a lot of he said, he said going on but one thing I know for DAMN certain is that the Sens did not offer anywhere near that 5.5 mill because that’s just a flat out insane amount of money for a budget team to give a player who’d turn 41 like 2 months into the season. Not even far more storied, slam dunk first ballot Hall of Famers like Jaromir Jagr or Teemu Selanne made that much at that age.
Also interesting is how quick Detroit came through with the blow the doors off, outbid any other potential suitors offer. Curious. Slightly tough for me to buy that all in one morning, not day, morning that all went down organically like, “Hey heard the Sens only offered you $2.75 mill….they don’t love you like Kenny Holland do. Ima double that.” *Alfie hops on the back of Mike Babcock’s D12 themed custom chopper*
The Wings are still a really good team but I don’t think they’re still true Cup contender good. Deep down I think Alfie left for the big payday with a better shot at the Cup as a bonus. Regardless, it took some time for me not to be kind of pissed at both parties over everything.
Watching the Sens completely steamroll the Wings in their first meeting felt really fucking good I must say. Especially that the new hotness, Bobby Ryan, had a really solid game and scored a nice goal…then came the second meeting…in Ottawa. Despite lingering bitterness I bought tickets and even felt compelled to wear my home red Alfredsson jersey for the first time since the much, much, much nicer heritage was released. Seeing him out there on the ice again, watching that video of his countless amazing moments with the Senators, breaking out the 11:11 chant, it made all the shitty feelings go away. I found myself happy for him and happy to move forward. Not my ideal scenario but I was back to “He doesn’t owe us a God. Damn. Thing.” mode. I just hoped that over time he and the Sens could work out their differences so they could one day retire his number at the CTC. With all that’s come to light about Bryan Murray’s health, I couldn’t be happier that it’s been worked out sooner than later. I have my tickets and my Alfie red on deck and am so pumped for Thursday. The Return of the King™.
As for the Hall of Fame question, I personally think he’s a hall of fame player. Predicting him a first ballot guy is about as tough as calling “Do you think tonight’s game will be reffed well?” Some things are best left to celestial beings that govern the cosmos.
Sure, he has no Cups but if you look at comparable Cup-less inductees like Dino Ciccarelli or, of course, Mats Sundin there’s not much of a case against him.
Alfie may not have the scoring prowess of Dino (608) and Mats (564) but he has a lot of other achievements to balance it out. He won the Calder Trophy and made the All Rookie Team. He’s a 6 time All Star who had over 1200 career points and 100 more in the playoffs. He was the longest serving captain in the league at one point and lead his troops to a President’s Trophy and, yes, for what it’s worth, a Final. He also has an Olympic gold to go along with a trove of other international shit I don’t care about and am not going to bother looking up (it’s my pleasure to serve you, the reader!). He had an amazing career. I think Ciccarelli and Sundin should be in the Hall and am glad they are. I also think Alfie should be in there with them. The Stanley Cup is fuckin harrrrrrrrrrrrrd to win. Not all Hall worthy players get one in their careers. Nothing’s finer to have on your resume going in but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. As Carlos Dickens wrote in A Hot Take of Two Cities, “It was the Marcel Dionne 1,771 points in 1,348 games and no Stanley Cups of times, it was the Alex Kovalev won a Cup in his rookie season because OF FUCKING COURSE he did of times.” Your boy’s the best player in the history of a young franchise. You gotta do it.