Getting to know ... Daniel Alfredsson
Sens captain talks about the 1,000-game milestone and more
|When Daniel Alfredsson first came to Ottawa to join the Senators, he never dreamed he would enjoy such a lengthy, productive career (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images).
And Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is far from done adding to his lofty totals. Even as he hits the 1,000-game milestone in National Hockey League service, the 37-year-old native of Goteborg, Sweden, is still going strong.
Clearly, he is the face of the only NHL franchise he has ever known. He is also beloved by the Sens Army faithful who have chanted his name with tremendous gusto since their captain fuelled the Senators’ dream ride to the Stanley Cup final in 2006-07. It’s that connection with the fans that also makes Alfredsson especially proud of the fact he’s only the 44th player in NHL history to hit the 1,000-game plateau with one team.
His current contract, Alfredsson has said, will be his last, meaning he’ll indeed wear the “Senator for life” distinction to the end of his playing days.
Alfredsson took some time to speak with Bodycheck about the game he loves, the city that has become home to him and his family, and a whole lot more.
Q: What does it mean to reach the 1,000-game milestone?
A: It’s a milestone, there’s no question, and it’s obviously an accomplishment. When I first made it in the NHL, I thought I was going to come over here and play two or three years. Five hundred (games) was a monstrous number to me. But 1,000 games… there was no way I could have imagined that.
Q: How much extra significance is added to it by the fact you have been able to accomplish that feat with the same team?
A: It makes it special. A lot of fans have been here since the beginning and I came here in the team’s fourth year. A lot of them have followed me throughout my whole (NHL) career and can share this with me as well. That means it probably means a little bit more to me.
A: I’m not sure. Everything just gradually came along — rookie camp, main camp, then the first exhibition games and first NHL games. I can’t say there was one thing that stood out to me and said ‘you’re in the NHL.’ Coming from Europe, during the exhibition games when all the fights were happening… that was a little bit different than what I was used to.
Q: Other than the games, what do you enjoy the most about being in the playoffs in Ottawa?
A: It’s just the energy from all the fans and the city overall. With the media and all the playoff predictions and everybody’s talking about it… being here in Canada, hockey is so popular and you feel it everywhere you go. It’s just that buzz in the city that’s pretty unique. And it’s spring, too, which everybody here likes.
Q: What runs through your mind when you hear the ‘Alfie, Alfie’ chants from fans at Scotiabank Place?
A: Usually, it happens when I’m on the ice and then I’m pretty oblivious to it. There’s so much happening on the ice. I think it was one year we played New Jersey in the playoffs, I ended up scoring in one game and I saw the replay later in the summer and I thought that was pretty neat. When you’re on the ice, you can’t hear it, but when I see it afterward, it’s pretty humbling.
Q: Not including guys you’ve played with here, who would be your dream linemates?
A: On my dream line would be Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux.
Q: Which of your teammates has the best chance to beat you in a game of table tennis?
A: (laughs) Nobody has a chance. Not right now.
Q: Your favourite city to visit in the NHL?
A: It depends on the time of the year. If it’s January, I like Florida. But I really like the energy New York brings. Walking around downtown there is a lot of fun. I don’t think I’d want to live there for a long period of time but I love the city.
A: Paris is a favourite. I went to Paris last summer and it’s a great city with a lot of cultural highlights and a lot of great restaurants.
Q: Your favourite thing to do when you visit home?
A: Spending time with the family. That’s definitely my favourite thing.
Q: How hard/easy has it been to maintain your Swedish culture in Ottawa?
A: It’s harder but we try to celebrate — especially at Christmas — with Swedish traditions and Swedish food. But at the same time, we try to learn all the Canadian customs as well. We make sure we celebrate Halloween, which we didn’t do in Sweden. We do a turkey on Christmas Day. Normally, we celebrate on Christmas Eve. We try to take in a lot of Canadian traditions and teach our kids that as well, while maintaining the Swedish ones.
Q: If you could be the promoter for a concert, which three bands/acts do you pick for the show?
A: ABBA, Coldplay and U2.
Q: Favourite athlete outside of hockey?
A: I’d say (Lionel) Messi, a soccer player (from Argentina), who plays for Barcelona.
Q: If you weren’t a hockey player, which sport would you want to play for a living?
A: Probably soccer. It’s the other sport I played growing up.
Q: If you’re the one cooking dinner, what’s on the menu?
A: (grins) Swedish meatballs!
Q: Favourite type of music?
Q: Favourite TV show?
Q: Favourite movie?
A: The Shawshank Redemption.