International Ice Hockey Federation

Definition of class: Alfredsson

Definition of class: Alfredsson

Swedish superstar to announce retirement

Published 04.12.2014 11:11 GMT+1 | Author Risto Pakarinen
Definition of class: Alfredsson
Daniel Alfredsson was Sweden's captain at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice in Stockholm. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Maybe he had to go away so he’d be able to come back full circle. Daniel Alfredsson is going to participate in the Ottawa Senators warm-up, and to retire.

The NHL has allowed allow Alfredsson to that, despite the fact he’s not, and won’t be, under contract.

That’s good news for the Islanders, against whom Alfredsson was a point-a-game player – but sad for the rest of the hockey world.

Alfredsson, a week shy of his 42nd birthday, was forced to retire due to persistent problems with his back. Had he been able to play, he would have played with the Detroit Red Wings where he played last season, and led the team in scoring with 49 points in 68 games.

Instead, he’s back in Ottawa, his hometown of almost twenty years, and he’s successfully building bridges that may have caught on fire when he decided to sign with the Red Wings in 2013.

It was in Ottawa the 22-year-old Gothenburg native landed in the fall of 1995. He was the Senators sixth-round pick (133rd overall) in 1994, when he was already 21, and had just made his breakthrough in Sweden. At the age of 19, he was still playing in the Swedish third-tier league, and while he scored twelve goals in 32 games there, he wasn’t projected to score over a thousand points in the NHL.

It was in Ottawa he became the Calder Trophy winner, as the rookie of the year, in 1996, and it was in Ottawa, he turned into the leader that would captain the Senators for 14 years.

It was in Ottawa he landed bright-eyed and curious, it was in Ottawa he kept fans on their toes not only with his unexpected moved on the ice, but also with his hairstyles, letting it grow to Bjorn Borgesque lengths, only to shave it all off, to let it come down to his shoulders again. His powers were not in his hair.

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He played 1,178 regular season games wearing the Ottawa Senators sweater, and 595 games at home, in Ottawa, as a Senator, scoring 228 goals.

But it wasn’t in Ottawa he scored his first goal. That came in the second game of his NHL career, in Florida, in a 6-2 loss to the Panthers.

“I think we had a two-man advantage. The puck hit me in the butt in front of the net. I don’t remember much else, except that I thought it was crazy to play hockey when it was so hot outside,” he told Swedish Aftonbladet a few years ago.

The Senators, who joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1991, had been abysmal their first few years, but made the playoffs in Alfredsson’s second season, and only missed the post-season twice during his tenure in the Canadian capital.

Alfredsson represented Sweden in seven World Championships, five Olympics, and two World Cups, winning one Olympic gold, one silver, two World Championship silvers, and a two bronze medals.

He was also awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, an award given “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community” in 2012.

And when he now retires, he does so as one of the greats in the game, beloved on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I don't have a vote, but if I was voting, I'd vote him in the Hall of Fame,” Wayne Gretzky told the Ottawa Sun.

“I always look at the criteria of how a guy approached the game, and he approached it with dignity and class. He always seemed to play good games well under pressure and he made a difference in the sport,” he added.

There’s no better legacy than that.


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