The prodigal son has returned home to Ottawa.
Former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has officially retired from the National Hockey League as a member of the Ottawa Senators.
The 41-year-old Alfredsson made the announcement today at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre, the rink he called home for most of his 18 seasons in the NHL.
The Ottawa homecoming was clearly emotional for Alfredsson, who was the face of the Senators for close to 19 NHL seasons.
“You made your town our town,” Alfredsson said at a Thursday press conference. “Thank you,”
The Senators have signed their longtime captain to a one-day contract so he can skate in pre-game warm-ups with the team as he dons he number 11 one last time tonight to say goodbye to the fans that cheered him on for so many years and get the proper respect he deserves. He will then take part in a ceremonial faceoff before they take on the New York Islanders.
“I was taken aback by this offer,” he added. “I never believed that my career entitled me to any kind of special treatment. Tonight is going to be a night I will never forget,” he added. “[This time] I think I can sit back and relax and enjoy it a bit more in the way I wasn’t able to enjoy some of my other moments here.”
Alfredsson appeared in 1178 career NHL games with the Senators and Detroit Red Wings, scoring 426 goals and 682 assists for 1,108 total points.
Alfredsson remains the Senators all-time leader in several statistical categories including games played, goals, assists, points, power play points, playoff goals, assists and points. He was selected to six NHL All-Star Games, captaining his own team at the 2012 event in Ottawa. He was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2012 for his on- and off-ice leadership as well as humanitarian contributions as well as the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2013.
However, he left the city for the 2013-14 season to play with the Detroit Red Wings. He was asked about the decision Thursday and expressed no regrets.
“I think we all make hard decisions in life,” he said. “When you look back it is something that was right at the time. It’s given me this opportunity now, so I’m extremely thankful to have this opportunity to thank everyone and retire as an Ottawa Senator.”
Alfredsson broke into the League in 1995-96 after being selected in the sixth round (133rd overall) by the Senators in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. That season he racked up 26 goals and 35 assists, earning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
He would appear in three straight All-Star Games for the Senators between 1996 and 1998 and was named team captain in 1999-2000, while incumbent Alexei Yashin missed a year with a contract stand-off. Alfredsson’s 13 year captaincy in Ottawa extended all the way to the end of the 2012-13 season.
Alfredsson spearheaded 15 trips to the post-season leading the Senators through several memorable post season wars against their provincial rival the Toronto Maple Leafs. The two most notable trips to the playoffs were highlighted by an Eastern Conference Final appearance in 2003 and, later, a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2007.
Alfredsson led the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs in scoring, potting 14 goals and 22 points as the team clipped the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres before losing to the Anaheim Ducks in five games in the Stanley Cup Final.
The trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 tops the list for Alfredsson in career highlights along with Senators GM Bryan Murray
One of the greatest memories of Alfredsson came in Ottawa in 2012 at the NHL All Star Game. All eyes were on the city on Ottawa as they hosted their first All Star Game. Alfredsson scored two goals in 91 seconds and added an assist, coming close to a hat trick and MVP honors.
I will never forget the ovation the Senators faithful gave Alfredsson after he scored those two goals. The standing ovation lasted only a few minutes as the entire crowd was on their feet cheering this great legend of the game, it felt like it last for 10 minutes. Every time Alfredsson touched the puck he was cheered. The man could do no wrong in Ottawa.
The Red Wings had been awaiting word on whether Alfredsson would play again this season, but reports of his retirement surfaced two weeks ago. However, due to a back injury Alfredsson knew it was time to call it a career.
Alfredsson represented his home country of Sweden in five Olympic Games, winning a gold medal at the 2006 in Torino. He was also a member of Sweden’s silver medal team in 2014 in Sochi. He won a pair of IIHF World Championship silver and bronze medals ranging from 1995 to 2004. He was also on the Swedish team that placed third at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
His general manager offered strong praise for his time in the capital.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with a lot of players over my career that have gone into the Hall of Fame,” said Senators GM Bryan Murray. “At the top of the list is Daniel Alfredsson.”
While Daniel Alfredsson is not in the Hall of Fame yet, he will be there one day as he becomes eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.
Alfredsson’s time in Ottawa has come full circle. Like most great players before him, he will go back to where his career started. He will go out with the respect he deserves. Though he donned a Red Wings sweater for one season, he will be remembered as an Ottawa Senator like he should be.
The final chapter in his legacy will be written tonight. Daniel Alfredsson was one of the classiest players you will ever meet and see play the game.
Thank you for all the memories on and off ice.