Alfredsson heads home to aid Swedes' golden quest
Sens captain extends season with appearance at 2012 world hockey championship
|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will make his seventh world championship appearance for Sweden starting later this week, when the 2012 tournament is held in Stockholm and Helsinski. Alfredsson has won four world medals with the Tre Kronor, but is still in search of his first gold (Getty Images).
Daniel Alfredsson gave the Swedish national team the good news it needed after five straight exhibition game losses.
The Ottawa Senators captain accepted the invitation to join the Tre Kronor for the 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship, giving Sweden GM Johan Garpenlov the good news on Sunday afternoon.
Alfredsson's commitment to the world championship — which begins Friday in Stockholm and Helsinki — after just having finished his 16th NHL season at the age of 39 and after having suffered a tough Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs, will make him one of the most celebrated players to ever don the Tre Kronor jersey.
“Immediately after we were eliminated from the playoffs, I spoke with (Senators defenceman and fellow Swede) Erik Karlsson and asked him how he feels about going to the world championship,” Alfredsson told IIHF.com. “I told him that I myself feel good about it. This week when I was off with the concussion (during the first-round series against the Rangers) made me feel rested now and ready to go.
"Family was a big part of the decision as my wife (Bibbi) will have to carry all the weight alone for a couple of weeks, but (she and their four sons) may come to Stockholm for the last week."
Alfredsson will become the oldest player to represent Sweden at a men’s IIHF World Championship in the modern era. Borje Salming was 38 when he played in Stockholm at the 1989 worlds, but Salming played in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville when he was 41.
This will be Alfredsson’s seventh world championship, but the first since Austria in 2005, during the National Hockey League's lockout year. He has also represented Sweden in all four Olympics with NHL participation (1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010) and the two World Cups of Hockey, which were held in 1996 and 2004.
With Alfredsson committing, he returns to the place — Globen Arena in Stockholm — where he played his very first worlds event in 1995 at the age of 22. It was that tournament which became his international comingout party and where Alfredsson became a national hero after scoring the semifinal overtime winner against Canada. Sweden went on to lose the gold medal game to Finland, 4-1.
“Being able to go back to the place where my career really started was a big part of the decision," said Alfredsson. "Everything just took off after the 1995 championship and I signed with the Senators after the tournament."
And the gold medal loss is something he would like to avenge 17 years later, to lead the Swedish team to the final stages of the 2012 event in Helsinki and defeat the Finns in the gold medal game on their home ice.
“This would of course be the perfect scenario after all those years, to beat Finland in on their home ice," said Alfredsson. "I have never won the world championship.”
Alfredsson's biggest accomplishment with the Swedish team was winning the 2006 Olympic gold in Turin, Italy. Silver in 1995 and 2004 and bronze in 1999 and 2001 are his best results at the worlds.
Alfredsson has been Sweden’s arguably most reliable international contributor in the 1990s and 2000s. He has played 78 games in the Olympics, world championships and World Cups, scoring 68 points (29 goals and 39 assists).
Drafted in the sixth round in 1994 by the Senators, Alfredsson has played all his 1,131 NHL games with that club, being almost a point-per-game player (416-666-1,082). He said that choosing to play at the worlds has nothing to do with the decision he has yet to make about whether he will play one more year in the NHL or to retire.
“These are two separate things,” says Alfredsson. “I will make the decision a couple of weeks after the world championship.”
— Author: Szymon Szemberg