11 reasons why Alfie's good for Sens
AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency
|Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson announced Tuesday he will be returning to the Senators for a 17th season in the NHL. His jersey was hanging in Ottawa's dressing room on Tuesday. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)
Nothing signifies a deep playoff run like a thick briar patch of bristles — except maybe a 35-pound silver chalice to hoist above your head — and on this roster, Alfie’s is about as good as it gets. Remember Sergei Gonchar’s wispy blond whiskers, or Babyface Spezza’s patchy smattering? They had nothing on the likes of Scott Niedermayer circa ’07 or the pre-Sens Mike Commodore. Sure, Chris Phillips can muster up a decent chin carpet, but Alfie rocks the Lanny ‘stache like nobody’s business.
Still crazy after all these years
Darcy Tucker’s shoulder has healed and Mats Sundin’s broken stick has long since turned to kindling, but Alfie still manages to drive Leafs Nation nuts, eliciting showers of boos from the blue and white every time he touches the puck. Boos on the road are like cheers at home. Now, if the Sens Army can just figure out a way to silence the boos at the Bank every time the Leafs visit.
Think Erik Karlsson’s smooth transition and phenomenal rise had anything to do with the guy who stepped up to the draft podium to call his name back in 2008? No, his name wasn’t Murray, it was Alfredsson, who was like a surrogate father while the young EK found his NHL legs. Senators brass would no doubt like to see a similar learning curve with fellow countrymen Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad, who could each benefit from Alfie’s tutelage in their first full season in North America.
Alfie for mayor
Only Alfie could rival the dearly departed Mike Fisher’s philanthropic streak. Among the many charitable deeds, his off-ice fight against the stigma of mental illness with the You Know Who I Am campaign and against homophobia in sport with You Can Play earned him the 2012 King Clancy Memorial Trophy for “leadership qualities on and off the ice” and “significant humanitarian contribution” to the community.
Sundin made it to hockey’s shrine on the first ballot after 18 NHL seasons where he scored 1,431 points in 1,437 games (including playoffs) for an average of 0.995 PPG. Alfredsson trails that mark with 0.943 PPG, but he’ll build on his career totals of 1,172 points in 1,242 games in his 17th season. Sundin holds a slight edge over his countryman in international accolades, but Sundin never made it to the Stanley Cup final.
The heir apparent
Judging by the early returns, coach Paul MacLean is in it for the long haul, so he’ll have at least one more year to work with his lieutenants before naming a successor to the NHL’s longest-serving captain.
The final countdown
Hard to believe it took this long for clever fans to hit up the 11:11 countdown to the Alfie! chant. It was just starting to catch on by last season’s end.
The thought of an all-Swede starting lineup of Alfie, Silfverberg, Zibanejad, Karlsson, youngster Fredrik Claesson and goaltender Robin Lehner is just too tantalizing.
With an underwhelming UFA class, the Senators are under no pressure to fill a top-6 void. Especially since next year’s crop could include RWs Jarome Iginla, Corey Perry and Nathan Horton.
Face of the franchise
There’s something to be said for a franchise player who resists greener pastures to spend his entire career with one small-market team. A rarity anywhere in pro sports.
Gas in the tank
Alfie says he feels better now than he did at this point last off-season, and still managed 27 goals and 59 points while missing only seven games. He was a force in the playoffs and at the all-star game, so there’s reason to believe he can still deliver the goods after his 40th birthday.