Daniel Alfredsson: A hockey legacy in limbo
Return of former Ottawa Senators captain brings pre-game tribute
The limbo is pretty tough for a father of four with a bad back. So waiting to see what’s in store on Sunday must be excruciating.
Daniel Alfredsson returns to town wearing red and white and his familiar number 11. But instead of a defiant-looking Spartan, the crest on his uniform will feature a winged wheel.
On Sunday at about 5:30 p.m. ET, Alfredsson will step on an ice surface he owned for many seasons, in front of a fan base that thought he could do no wrong for so long.
Hockey life in Ottawa has changed and even the arena’s name is different.
How fans will react, nobody quite knows, but it would be worth the fans' time to spend more effort cheering than booing. That should also include a lengthy standing ovation.
The Senators' decision on a tribute is also an interesting move. They have not revealed much besides the fact it will take place before puck drop.
Reports say Alfredsson, who spent 17 seasons with the Sens, will also bring his family back to their long-time home. It would be nice to see them on the ice, too.
There are few players who stick with a franchise for so long, especially without winning a Stanley Cup. Ray Bourque is the best example and he didn't win a cup until he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
Boston Bruins fans adore Bourque just as much as Bobby Orr and Cam Neely.
Fans here love Alfie still, which is clear in listening to the general consensus in previous news stories. There are also too many unknowns in this divorce for Sens fans to come down on a man who was previously put on a pedestal.
Identity post-Alfie still a question
In the aftermath of the messy break-up between the Senators and Alfredsson, the Red Wings and Sens have each had their share of ups and downs.
Two months into the season, the Senators can be described in one word: inconsistent. The Red Wings are, well, the Red Wings. They are still competitive, still near the top of the conference.
On the surface, Alfredsson has not been a game-changer this year. He has battled back and groin injuries — a familiar sight for Sens fans — but he still has 16 points in 21 games.
The Senators, meanwhile, continue to search for a new identity. Are they pesky? Are they high scoring? Would Alfredsson make a difference?
If you only watched the two head-to-head match-ups this season, those questions might not matter.
Ottawa played its most complete game of the season in a 6-1 win on Oct. 23 in Detroit. Then solid goaltending last Saturday lifted them over the Red Wings, 4-2, once again at Joe Louis Arena.
The October game was an emotional one for the 41-year-old Swede, Alfredsson admitted after the game. He wasn’t himself and his team was flat.
But this one will be different.
The Red Wings' response on Sunday will be even more important to the Gothenburg native because the game will take an even higher emotional toll on the veteran.
In a way, it would be nice to see Alfredsson put on one more show for the fans, even if it's for the enemy.