When asked to describe the past 12 months, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson could easily be talking about his work off the ice, too.
"Incredible ... really," Alfredsson says, reflecting on a year-long period which has seen the Senators reach their first Stanley Cup final and sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings through the first half of this season.
What few people know about Alfredsson is the charitable work he does -- mostly under the radar -- for such causes as the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and the Royal Ottawa Hospital's Allison Lees Memorial Legacy Endowment Fund for Mental Health.
With that, Alfredsson has been named the Sun's Sports Newsmaker of 2007 in voting done by a panel.
Not bad for a guy who was chosen in the sixth round (133rd overall) of the 1994 NHL draft by Ottawa out of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Now, 13 years later, the Swede who probably should never have made it, is in his 12th season in Ottawa and is the Senators' all-time leading scorer.
"Definitely, it's been my best year as a pro and not just personally, but also as far as the team goes," says the 35-year-old Alfredsson, who scored the series-clinching goal in the Eastern Conference final in overtime of Game 5 against the Buffalo Sabres. "Getting to the Stanley Cup final and with the first half of the season that we've had, I think it's been a great 2007.
"We took this team to another level from Christmas last year and that carried over to the playoffs. There's no question it was my best playoffs ever and probably the most fun I've had as a pro athlete."
Off the ice, Alfredsson and his wife Bibbi have quietly donated time and money to numerous charities.
"I don't know if (keeping it quiet) is something I purposely try to do. It all depends on the situation," Alfredsson says. "I'm part of the boxing night (Ringside for Youth) where I put my name in, it's wide open, I'm a sponsor of that event. We do some other stuff as well. I don't think it's something I need to do ... I do it because I feel I can contribute it certain areas. I'm not looking for recognition.
"I think it's very important (to give back). We've been part of this city now for 12 years ... it's given us a lot of good things. So it's a natural thing to do.
"We do a lot of things with the team as well. It's nice. I think this team has always tried to put its foot forward and be a leader in community work ... and that's good."
Senators GM Bryan Murray, a lifelong hockey man, has worked with great leaders like Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov in Detroit and Rod Langway and Scott Stevens in Washington.
And Murray, the Senators' coach last season before taking over as GM, says Alfredsson just might be the best.
"(Alfredsson is) right near the top of the people I've worked with, if not the top," Murray says. "There's no question, he's gained such a level of respect and he clearly had it before, but he's taken it to a new level with the things he's done.
"When he speaks, there's a respect level, a presence and a real good following. He provides the whole team with a confidence. If there were doubters, or any questions about Daniel Alfredsson, I think (last season's) results erased everything.
"He's passionate and in the past he may have tried to do too much. Last year, he didn't only try to do a lot of things, he did a lot of things."
Senators centre Jason Spezza, who never complains when Alfredsson plays on his line with Dany Heatley, says it's been tremendous to see Alfredsson pick up right where he left off in the playoffs last year.
"The confidence is really high for him right now and it should be," Spezza says. "The team is winning, he's our captain and when your confidence is high, that helps you have success in this game.
"He doesn't feel like he has to do it by himself anymore. Before, he may have felt like when things were going tough, he felt like he had to get the team out of it because that's the type of guy he is."
Alfredsson is viewed as a quiet leader because of his even-keeled personality and his demeanour on the ice. He speaks when necessary and the Senators listen.
"He's a quiet leader in that he goes about his business and leads by example," says Senators defenceman Luke Richardson, a 20-year NHL veteran who knows a thing or two about leadership. "A couple of times when he's had to speak up this year, he has. He came in after one second period and told us: 'We're embarrassing ourselves out here.'
"He's not afraid to speak his mind. He leads in a stern way and he's got respect in the dressing room and that's the sign of a leader."
Alfredsson knows his job.
"I look at my role as being a guy who always gives his best, always shows up every night and in practice," he says. "If I have that attitude, guys are going to feed off that."
Some facts on Daniel Alfredsson, No. 11, right winger for the Senators:
- Height: 5-foot-11
- Weight: 205 lbs.
- Status: Married to wife Bibbi. Children are Hugo, 4, and Loui, 1.
- Newsmaker panellist Jeff Hunt, 67's owner, on Alfredsson: "The Senators achieved their franchise-best post-season, which is undoubtedly the biggest sports story in the capital in 2007. As captain, Daniel Alfredsson is the player most identified with the team and was outstanding in the playoff run. If any player personifies the ideal captain, it's Alfredsson."