Sens captain wears golden smile
Cup quest next for Alfredsson
BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

TURIN -- Daniel Alfredsson is bringing home gold from the Winter Olympics.

Next up, he'd like to carry a Stanley Cup down Bank Street.

As the buzzer sounded yesterday at the Palasport Arena, the Swedes leaped into each other's arms in celebration. Nobody looked happier than the Senators captain.

Though he'd love to win the double this year and there's still unfinished business with the Senators, Alfredsson still wants to take some time to enjoy the gold medal his country so badly wanted.

"Right now, I just want to savour this for a couple of days because it means so much to win Olympic gold," said Alfredsson. "I know when I get back to Ottawa in the next couple of days that there's more work to be done."

Gathered with the rest of the Swedish players -- Kenny Jonsson on his left and Nik Lidstrom to his right -- Alfredsson sang the national anthem with his teammates as the flag was raised to the roof.

"This is just such a special moment," said Alfredsson.

"I'm not sure that it has sunk in yet. I just know that chances like this don't come along very often and when you get a chance like this, you want to be able to take advantage of it. To win the gold, with these players, feels pretty special right now."

This is the first gold Alfredsson has helped his country win. The Swedes won their only other Olympic hockey gold in 1994, but Alfredsson wasn't a part of that group.

When Peter Forsberg was pulling off his shootout magic in Lillehammer that year to win it for Sweden, Alfredsson was sitting in his living room in Goteborg with his father, Hasse, watching like many of the other nine million people in the country.

This time, Alfredsson was putting on a show for his family.

Brother Henric flew in from Ottawa on Saturday, while his father and sister, Cecilia, made the short flight over from Goteborg to share the moment. They had a chance to join him at the party held by the Swedish team at a downtown Turin restaurant last night. Then Alfredsson heads back to Ottawa this morning. He's got a Senators game against Pittsburgh on Wednesday to start thinking about.

"Henric bought his ticket when we were up 5-1 against the Czechs (in Friday's quarter-final)," said Alfredsson with a smile. "When it got to 5-3, he was thinking about cancelling it, but he decided to hang on and he flew in (Saturday). I'm glad that they were here. It's going to be nice to be able to share it with them."

Many will talk about the performance of Forsberg at this tournament, and why not? He arrived late because of a groin injury that had kept him out of action since mid-January, but he stepped up and helped lead his country to the title.

IMPRESSIVE EFFORT

But Swedish legend Mats Naslund, who had a long career with the Montreal Canadiens and has been work with the club at these Olympics, was impressed by the way Alfredsson performed for his country.

"To me, Alfredsson has been our best player," said Naslund.

Alfredsson has been through a lot in his NHL career with the Senators. There have been injuries, playoff disappointments and questions about whether he had enough to be considered a winner.

He scored a huge goal in 7-3 win over the Czechs to secure the semi-final victory and was consistent through the tournament.

"You want to come to a tournament like this and you want to play well as a team," said Alfredsson. "That's what we did. It has been a great couple of weeks because we worked so well together to win the gold.

"We knew it was going to be tough, but the hard work paid off. The Finns were tough to play against, we knew it was going to be hard to score goals and we kind of had to grind that one out. But we got the job done."