It turns out 37-year-old Daniel Alfredsson is living out a dream he put on paper 30 years ago in elementary school.
“He wrote an essay as a seven-year-old, saying he dreamed of playing in the NHL one day,” says his father, Hasse. “He’s getting a chance to live his dream. Not many people get a chance to do that.”
As a kid, hockey wasn’t the only sport on his plate.
“At 15, he told his mother (Margareta) and I that he had to choose,” says Hasse. “Soccer and hockey were year-round and he decided he had to choose one to put all of his efforts into.
“He just told us one day, ‘I’m going to quit soccer and put all my energy into hockey.’ That was fine with me and his mom. We never questioned him. We just supported him and wanted him to do his best.”
The elder Alfredsson thought his son — who was playing for one of the best teams in Sweden with IFK Gothenburg — was a better soccer player when he chose hockey.
“He was a very good soccer player,” says Hasse. “He played at a high level and he would make good passes. He could see things before they would happen. The team was disappointed when he told them he was going to play hockey.”
One of the reasons Alfredsson decided to stay with hockey was the fact it ran in his family. Hasse, who started playing at age 10, coached his son from the beginning.
When Daniel decided to turn pro with Mondial, a club team, his father was no longer the coach. Daniel had great vision to go along with his skills.
“You could see then that he had something special and he didn’t have any nerves,” says Hasse. “Some guys could do things in practice, but Daniel could do those same things when he played the game. Nothing seemed to bother him. The biggest difference was he approached practice the same way that he looked at the game.”
There have been thrilling moments along the way to No. 1,000. Hasse was there in Turin when his son won Olympic gold with Sweden in 2006.
The proud parents will never forget the visit by the Senators to Gothenburg for an exhibition game against the Frolunda Indians in 2008. The trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2007 is another highlight.
Why has the Senators captain been so successful? It starts with the work ethic he learned from his parents.
Hasse worked for the Swedish government. Mother Margareta is confined to a wheelchair because of a battle with muscular sclerosis. There are daily challenges in her life.
It means a lot to the family that Alfredsson has been able to reach the 1,000-game plateau.
But as much as their son has accomplished on the ice, Hasse and Margareta are happy they’ve raised a son who has emerged as a good citizen in the Ottawa community.
“It’s unbelievable that he has always played for one team and that’s a big thing,” says Hasse.
“The thing that we’re most proud of is that he’s a decent guy. He’s not just a good hockey player.”