Fans ready to honour Alfie on Saturday

Ottawa Senators' Daniel Alfredsson became the first Sen to play 1,000 games with the club....

Ottawa Senators' Daniel Alfredsson became the first Sen to play 1,000 games with the club. (REUTERS/Doug Murray)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:16 PM ET

OTTAWA — He’s the captain, the face of the franchise, its all-time (and current) leading scorer and best player ... and just about as witty an individual to ever walk through the Senators’ dressing room doors.

What’s left for Daniel Alfredsson to do?

Well, come to think of it, an injury update on Alex Kovalev was needed Friday, and with good ole’ reliable No. 11 the only Senators employee made available to the media on a day off after a late-night flight from Florida, why not ask him?

So, Alfie, have you seen Kovalev since he was helped off the ice in Tampa Thursday? Are you optimistic he’s going to be okay?

“No, I haven’t evaluated him yet,” Dr. Dan said slyly. “I’m going to look at his knee tomorrow.”

Alfredsson, of course, was not privy to tests on the injury to Kovalev, who will almost certainly miss the season finale against Buffalo Saturday — a meaningless game on one of the most meaningful nights in Senators history.

Prior to the opening faceoff, Alfredsson will be lavishly honoured as the first player to skate in 1,000 games with the team, a hallmark he hit in front of a small number of spectators at BankAtlantic Center in Tuesday.

Three days later, while his teammates were at home watching Round 2 of the Masters, Alfredsson, a golf fanatic, was at the rink taking part in a walk-through for the pre-game ceremony at what will be a packed Scotiabank Place.

How long will it last?

“Eleven minutes,” Alfredsson said, without missing a beat. “Hopefully.”

And then, in reference to his gesture six years ago that made fun of his friend Mats Sundin and infuriated Maple Leafs fans, he added:

“It could end up being 13, but then I’d have to throw my stick again.”

Even more despised than he is by supporters of Ottawa’s rivals, Alfredsson is adored by Senators’ faithful. And with his mother, father and a few friends having travelled from Sweden, plus his wife, three sons and brother also close by his side, Alfredsson should receive a showering of love unlike any other witnessed at SBP.

Does he expect the outburst of affection to put a lump in his throat and bring a tear to his eye?

“I think it will be emotional,” he said, jokes aside. “I don’t know if I cry ... if I do, I do. I have no problem with that. (But) everything is positive. It’s just unbelievable that a lot of people care what you do that much. It’s almost awkward.

“I’m pretty sure it will be a night that I’ll never forget it.“

Alfredsson will say a few words after the presentations and ovations. He’ll try his best to express his gratitude to all you people who have supported him the past 15 years.

“It’s going to be great,” he said of the evening ahead. “It feels a little bit overwhelming, to be honest, right now. All the attention I’ve been getting, all the accolades as well. It’s very humbling. I’m just going to try and have fun with it, enjoy it and try to embrace it all.

“The good thing is we’ve locked up our position in the standings, which will allow me and the whole team to enjoy the ceremony a little bit more than if it would have been a very important game.”

Yes, entrenched in fifth in the East, the Senators are awaiting weekend results to determine whether they’re travelling to New Jersey or Pittsburgh for Game 1 of the playoffs, which will likely be Wednesday.

Aside from a lull immediately after the break, Alfredsson likes the way the Senators have played since January. And as much as he hopes to see Kovalev in the lineup for the start of the post-season, Alfredsson believes the Senators can endure a worst-case scenario.

“Obviously, we’re concerned about his status,” he said. “It’s never good when you lose players before the playoffs, especially if it’s for a longer time. If you want to have a long run, you’re going to run into some injury problems throughout the playoffs, and if you have less depth to start off with, it’s not good. You deal with what you have and you do the best with it.

“I think we have pretty good depth throughout the team ... we’ve been able to do a good filling-in for injured players throughout the whole year.

“Everybody knows in the playoffs you need some luck, you need the margins on your side at times,” he added. “But we feel we’re in a position that we should be able to compete every night.”

Just like good ole’ reliable No. 11 has done for 1,000 games. And counting.


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