Former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson sounded disappointed Thursday in discussing his failed discussions with management on a contract extension that led to him signing a one-year, free-agent deal with Detroit.
But he also expressed he was "excited and a little bit nervous" to be taking the next step in his hockey journey after signing a one-year contract worth $5.5 million US with the Red Wings on July 5.
"I never felt [my agent J.P. Barry and I] had worked out a deal [with Ottawa]," said Alfredsson, who addressed reporters at the Royal Mental Health Centre, where he promoted his charitable focus on mental health awareness. "I don't have any bad feelings against anybody. I can't say I feel disrespected. I understood it's maybe hard for them to agree to my terms, but I had my reasons."
Reports suggest the Senators made an initial offer to Alfredsson in the $4-million range on a one-year deal while the player wanted a two-year deal at $6 million annually.
"It's not easy but I'm looking forward to this new chapter," he said. "I like [the Red Wings'] style of play and I knew they needed a right-handed shot. I was also delighted about their enthusiasm about me and how they saw me fitting into their plans and their team."
Last summer, Alfredsson said he had talked with Senators general manager Bryan Murray about playing the 2012-13 season and notified him of his interest in signing a contract extension through the 2013-14 campaign.
He said there was little progress in those talks but a lockout-shortened season of 48 games together with the club's bevy of injuries and playoff series against Montreal got him excited about the Senators' chances for success in the upcoming season.
In late June, the 40-year-old Alfredsson said he told management he was willing to return for another season but negotiations "again quickly stalled." On July 5, "several" teams contacted Alfredsson, including Detroit, which opened up the seemingly unthinkable of playing another season or even two "with another great team."
"I think the easiest thing for me would be just to stay in Ottawa, enjoy my last year there and retire an Ottawa Senator," he told reporters in July. "It probably would’ve been a great ending as well, but it’s the ultimate prize and I’m a competitive person."
Stanley Cup hopes
Alfredsson won an Olympic gold medal with Sweden in 2006 but has never hoisted the "ultimate prize," the Stanley Cup.
"When I made this decision it's for me to challenge myself as a hockey player. … I don't know how long this adventure [in Detroit] will last," said Alfredsson, "or when we will return but Ottawa will always be home in our hearts."
Alfredsson made his NHL debut with the Senators in the 1995-96 campaign and has scored 426 goals and 682 assists for 1,108 points in 1,178 regular-season games. He also has shone in the playoffs with 51 goals and 100 points in 121 contests.
In last year’s lockout-shortened season, Alfredsson had 10 goals and 26 points in 47 games.
Ottawa drafted him in the sixth round in 1994 and he went on to capture the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie and appeared in six all-star games.
Murray signed free-agent winger Clarke MacArthur and acquired right-winger Bobby Ryan, a four-time 30-goal scorer, in a trade with Anaheim to help offset Alfredsson’s departure.
Alfredsson said he expects the Senators to continue their growth and improve in the standings.
"Sometimes when you've been doing something for so long at the same place you need a change of scenery," he added. "This maybe will give me more energy."