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Senators captain grows along with all-star game

Alfredsson remembers making 'shy' first appearance as a rookie at 1996 showcase

Wednesday, 15.09.2010 / 4:30 PM / 2012 NHL All-Star Game
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
Senators teammates Jason Spezza (left) and Daniel Alfredsson shared the all-star spotlight at the 2008 game in Atlanta.
Today, he is the respected spokesman for a hockey franchise that is dear to the hearts of the city it calls home.

But it wasn't always that way for Daniel Alfredsson, the captain of the Ottawa Senators and a man commissioner Gary Bettman calls one of the National Hockey League's "great ambassadors on and off the ice."

Speaking at a luncheon held earlier today at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Alfredsson smiled as he recalled his first of five NHL all-star game appearances. He was a quiet 23-year-old rookie from Sweden who arrived at the FleetCenter in Boston for the 1996 mid-season classic, not entirely comfortable with the native language spoken all around him.

Not only that, Alfredsson found himself sharing a dressing room with such NHL luminaries at Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur, a who's who of future Hall of Famers.

"That was the Daniel Alfredsson who didn't speak very much," he said. "I was very shy. It was my rookie year and most of the stars that were on the team were way up there in my estimation. My English was okay at the time but not great, so I didn’t speak very much. All in all, it was an eye-opening experience and I was able to bring my parents as well. I had a great time."

Contrast that to his most recent all-star outing two years ago in Atlanta. Alfredsson was the unquestioned leader of a Senators contingent at Philips Arena that included linemate Jason Spezza and then-Ottawa head coach John Paddock, who was behind the Eastern Conference bench for that game.

But while others might consider an all-star appearance old hat the fifth time around, Alfredsson savours every one of his chances to rub shoulders with the game's greats. And he's clearly established himself as being worthy of such company.

"Atlanta was my last one," Alfredsson said during a hot-stove session at the conclusion of the luncheon, which was held on the heels of the announcement that Ottawa will play host to the 2012 all-star affair. "I was a little bit more of a veteran and I'd been around the league for a few years. The biggest thing that stands out is that it's just a great feeling mixing with the other elite players in the league, sharing stories and checking their sticks and equipment. It’s a lot of fun and we enjoy it. It’s a great experience for everyone involved."

"The biggest thing that stands out is that it's just a great feeling mixing with the other elite players in the league, sharing stories and checking their sticks and equipment. It’s a lot of fun and we enjoy it. It’s a great experience for everyone involved." - Daniel Alfredsson
Needless to say, Alfredsson would welcome the opportunity to be a part of the show in 2012, when the NHL's biggest stars arrive in the nation's capital. Not that he's taking such a possibility for granted in any way.

"That would be unbelievable," he said. "But the all-star game is not something you just get free access to — you've got to earn it to get there. I'd love to be a part of it but I'm sure I will be a part of it, even if I'm not playing in the game."

That season will also mark the 20th anniversary of the Senators' return to a league that had to fight to maintain the franchise's survival in 2003, when it was forced into bankruptcy. But current team owner Eugene Melnyk stepped in to buy the team and ensure it would stay in the nation's capital.

"From a business but more emotional standpoint, the league had a lot invested in this franchise," Bettman told the luncheon audience. "The history was kind of interesting and scary at some points. Since we always believed in this team and this market, I thought what better way to commemorate 20 years of this franchise and more importantly, what has happened to this franchise under Eugene’s ownership than to say, let’s bring the NHL family together, let’s bring it to the fans in Ottawa and let’s have a great event. And that’s why we’re here."

Alfredsson has no doubt the city will embrace the all-star experience.

"I think it’s going to be unbelievable," he said. "We’re not a big market but when we get an event like this, we want to make sure we make the city proud and we want to show that we’re the best hockey city in the world. We’ll put on a great show.

"People around the city are going to rally around it and make sure it becomes a great event for sponsors and for players and everybody involved. I think it’s going to be something special for us."


STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
3 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
4 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
5 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
6 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
7 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
8 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 82 20 54 -15 74
J. Spezza 75 23 43 -26 66
K. Turris 82 26 32 22 58
C. MacArthur 79 24 31 12 55
B. Ryan 70 23 25 7 48
A. Hemsky 75 13 30 -15 43
M. Michalek 82 17 22 -25 39
M. Zibanejad 69 16 17 -15 33
M. Methot 75 6 17 0 23
P. Wiercioch 53 4 19 -1 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Anderson 25 16 8 .911 3.00
R. Lehner 12 15 6 .913 3.06
SENS ARMY FAN POLL