OTTAWA — The question they usually ask of NHLers who hit longevity milestones is whether the guy ever imagined he’d ever be around long enough to hit the magic mark.
Except Daniel Alfredsson won rookie of the year in his first NHL season, so, yeah, he probably was expecting to hit 1,000 games and 1,000 points one day.
“Not even at that point I could have imagined playing this long,” grinned Alfredsson, who’s been operating at close to a point per game since Day 1 in 1995-96 (1,027 games and 1,010 points). “When I decided to come over I thought, if I could play here three or four years, that would be great.
“I always had the safety net, I could go back and play in the Swedish league if it doesn’t work out, but it’s been far and beyond what I expected, no question.”
Fifteen years later he is the longest-serving captain in the NHL.
“It’s been an unbelievable fit,” said Alfredsson, who went 133rd overall in 1994 and put on the C 11 years ago. “My kids grew up here, I couldn’t ask for more.”
OK, maybe one more thing. There’s that little matter of a Stanley Cup, a prize that has teased this team and this town for the better part of a decade. With Ottawa’s window closing — some say closed — you wonder if it will ever come.
The chase still drives him, though.
“For sure, that’s the main goal,” said Alfredsson, who still thinks a ring with Ottawa is doable. “Everybody feels that if you just get into the playoffs you’re going to have a chance. There isn’t really any team that’s beyond everybody else. The goal is to get in and go as far as possible.
“Look at Philly last year, they needed a shootout to make the playoffs in the last game of the year and they go to the finals. I like what we have here. If we can manage to make the playoffs we have a good mix of what you need to go far.”
He’ll be 38 in mid December, but seems to have some Chris Chelios genes.
“He’s such a good skater and so strong on the puck, those are the kinds of attributes that give you consistency,” said teammate Jason Spezza. “And he’s a real competitive guy, competitive at anything he does, and it shows on the ice. I’m sure his body doesn’t feel the way it used to, but he still manages to play at a pretty high level.”
RICHARDSONS IN MOURNING: The Sens are still without assistant coach Luke Richardson, the former Oiler who’s with his family after the death of his 14-year-old daughter Daron.
“It’s only a guess when he’ll be back with the team,” said Ottawa coach Cory Clouston. “Right now his focus and his priorities are with his family. He was helping coach his oldest daughter’s team, I know he’s still doing that. They’re just taking it day by day. It’s obviously a very tough time for them, especially heading into the holidays. Everyone hopes and wishes he’ll be back as soon as possible, but we definitely understand right now his priorities have to be with his family.”
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