SUNRISE, Fla. — The No. 11 Senators sticks in the rack Tuesday at the BankAtlantic Center will be embossed with No. 1,000 to mark captain Daniel Alfredsson’s special night.
Naturally, he will use 11 of them.
The sticks won’t be the only memento as Alfredsson plays his 1,000th NHL game:
He will change sweaters in each period. One will be for his family, one for the Senators and the other will be sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Senators have arranged for the Panthers to send the netting from each end. The nets will be cut up, mounted and offered as souvenirs to Senators fans to mark the historic night.
This isn’t just any other game, but Alfredsson is trying to treat it that way.
“I don’t think your 1,000th game has to be anything special. I don’t know that you can approach it any differently,” said Alfredsson. “You want to have a good showing. You don’t want to just go through the motions. I’ll try to make it as good as I can.”
Alfredsson pointed out he played his first road game against the Panthers at the old Miami Arena on Oct. 13, 1995. With Rick Bowness, the modern-day Senators’ first coach behind the bench, Alfredsson scored his first goal as Ottawa lost 6-2.
“I think it was a 5-on-3, I was in front of the net and it went off my rear end,” said Alfredsson with a smile. “I just remember it being crazy playing hockey in this type of weather.”
That’s why the achievement won’t hit home until Saturday, when the Senators hold their big celebration before the season finale at Scotiabank Place vs. the Sabres.
The atmosphere in Florida will be vastly different than if Alfredsson’s milestone game was at home.
Reporters were joking Alfredsson might be lucky if there’s 1,000 people in the building with the Panthers missing the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.
“I don’t think (No. 1,000 will hit home) until Saturday at home when they do the little ceremony for me and you get to share it with your home fans, family and some friends,” said Alfredsson.
“That’s what is going to be the special moment.”
With the Senators having clinched a playoff spot, Alfredsson could have sat out the two games in Florida (the other is Thursday in Tampa). But he would rather be in top game shape heading into the post-season.
“I don’t think it really matters if I play the 1,000th game in Ottawa,” said Alfredsson. “It almost did work out that way with injuries, but I just want to try to play all the games that are left to be as prepared as I can and the team can be going into the playoffs.”
Coach Cory Clouston said it will be nice to be part of No. 1,000. Weeks after taking over behind the bench in February 2009, Clouston witnessed a healthy dose of leadership from his captain, who returned to the lineup after missing just one game with a fractured jaw.
“He came back with a full cage. We were playing well and he wanted to be part of it,” said Clouston. “That was my first real recollection of the character that he has.”