OTTAWA - One of the most respected leaders in NHL history has recognized Daniel Alfredsson's leadership.
The Senators captain was awarded the Mark Messier Award for leadership when the first batch of winners was released during the Stanley Cup final Friday night in Chicago.
The NHL's longest-serving captain, Alfredsson, 40, was chosen ahead of Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings. This one meant a lot to Alfredsson because of the name attached to it.
"It's probably the most -- how do I put it -- humbling experience I guess," said Alfredsson. "Mark has been one of the guys you look up to. Throughout my career, him, (Wayne) Gretzky, (Steve) Yzerman. I was fortunate enough to meet Mark in 1994 in Sweden before I came over. They were doing their tour during the lockout. (He) came out, had dinner with us. I got to meet him. Just a great person.
"Not only (a great) person -- he could play the skill game. He could play the physical game. Offensive, defensive, good on faceoffs. He did it all. The biggest thing with him, he brought the team together, he made the team, you know, perform to his levels. That's what great players like that do. It's a great honour to get this award, for sure."
Messier, who gets selections from NHL clubs and makes the decision on the winner himself, likes the way Alfredsson plays his role.
"One of the things I have a lot of respect for is the guy has been able to have a body of work with one organization and not run out of ideas of how to reinvent himself every day, to have a consistent message and a consistent attitude of who he is, not only as a player but as a person," Messier told NHL.com. "You can talk to anybody around the league -- players, managers, people in the press, fans -- they would say the same thing, that he holds a lot of credibility."
Coach Paul MacLean has seen first hand the way Alfredsson leads in the dressing room and can't say enough.
"To me they could rename it, if they ever wanted to, it could be (the) Daniel Alfredsson (award)," said MacLean. "The two years I've been here, he's been a great help to me. We have conversations all the time about our team, how we're playing, what's going on. He's been a tremendous help.
"It's very well-deserved, especially for this season. I think by far he was the best captain in the NHL with what our team faced and how our team (was stung by injuries) and he continued to compete. It's very well-deserved for him. Just adds to his legacy and his hall of fame career."
Owner Eugene Melnyk was thrilled for Alfredsson and MacLean, who won the Jack Adams as coach of the year earlier in the broadcast.
"It's a very proud day for the entire Senators organization. To have our head coach and our team captain honoured in this way is gratifying and a reflection of how strong our hockey leadership group truly is," said Melnyk.
"Paul has led our coaching staff and our players through a season of adversity and shown how effective he can be as a communicator, a teacher and a leader to both our young and veteran players. Daniel is a rare breed whose leadership, dedication to our organization and consistently high level of community service is second to none."
Centre Kyle Turris sent out tweets congratulating Alfredsson and MacLean separately.
"Congrats to @DAlfredsson11 for winning the Messier award, can't tell ya how lucky I am to have the chance to learn from him on and off the ice," wrote Turris.
Now, he just has to hope Alfredsson is back next season.