‘Extremely Honored’: Senators to retire Daniel Alfredsson’s No. 11
OTTAWA — The No. 11 will always be No. 1 in the hearts of Senators fans.
It will never be seen on the ice again, however — and it certainly won’t be forgotten.
Instead, it will be the first retired number in the modern-day era of the Senators.
Never has a ballot been so easy to mark as the team confirmed during a press conference Tuesday they’ll retire former captain Daniel Alfredsson’s No. 11 before a game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Canadian Tire Centre on Dec.29.
Alfredsson, who was on hand with owner Eugene Melnyk, senior adviser Bryan Murray and GM Pierre Dorion for the splashy announcement at the CTC, was a unanimous choice by the player honouring committee, which was formed last summer.
Alfredsson, who will head into his second year in a off-ice role in hockey operations in September, suited up for 17 seasons with the Senators before playing out his final year (2013-14) with the Detroit Red Wings. He retired as a member of the Senators on Dec. 4, 2014 and took one final skate in his No. 11 jersey during the pre-game warmup.
“I’m extremely humbled,” Alfredsson, 43, said Tuesday. “It sounds really good when Mr. Melnyk and (master of ceremonies) Gord (Wilson) talk about what I achieved with all the goals and points … I played for a long time so you have to get old to do that.
“Nothing would have been possible without the teammates, the coaches, the staff, family and (his) parents from an early stage. That’s what came to mind when I was told I was going to get this honour. I started thinking about my mom and dad, and all they time they put in so I could play hockey, the coaches that have had a tremendous influence as well.
“That’s what makes this special: I’m extremely honoured and humbled.”
Let’s be honest: making Alfredsson’s number the first one to be retired was a no-brainer by the 17-member honouring committee.
The discussion around his nomination didn’t last long and Alfredsson liked the idea that the club was willing to do it before a game against the Wings because that’s where he played the final year of his career.
A three-time winner of the NHL’s major awards, he had 1,108 points in 1,178 games with the Senators and wore the ‘C’ as the club’s captain from 1999 to 2013. Not only was he a leader on the ice as a player, he remains involved off the ice today by being a spokesman for mental health awareness with the Royal Ottawa Hospital.
“We will raise No. 11 to the rafters and it will serve to remind us of Daniel’s legacy as an Ottawa Senator,” said Melnyk.
That legacy was hard work to help the club have success.
“I don’t think the honouring committee had a very hard job in selecting Daniel as the first nominee and honouree for this position,” said Murray. “It’s a great honour for any player to have his sweater retired and especially so for Daniel.
“He’s such a prominent member of the community. There’s many words to describe Daniel Alfredsson: character, leader, big-time performer, disciplined player and a very respectful player and person.”
Alfredsson was thrilled when he was informed by Senators president Cyril Leeder last year that the club wanted to retire his number.
“I don’t think I understand what it means yet, to be honest,” Alfredsson said. “I saw (Nicklas) Lidstrom’s jersey go up in the rafters in Detroit, Ken Dryden’s in Montreal and even Larry Robinson. I remember watching those ceremonies and it’s pretty special.
“You get a bit of a different perspective after you retire. You can kind of reflect a little bit more than you do when you’re still active. It’s honouring, extremely flattering but it also brings back a lot of memories. How did I get to this point? A lot of people have been involved and helped along the way, especially today.”
A father of four, Alfredsson, who returned to Ottawa from Sweden with his family Monday and has moved back to the city full-time, admits he’ll have a tough time keeping his emotions together the night his jersey is lifted to sit along side the No. 8 that was worn by original Senators forward Frank Finnigan.
“It’s going to be pretty emotional I’m sure,” said Alfredsson. “My retirement night was emotional. I’m not afraid to cry. If I do, I’m fine with it. It’s cool but I’m pretty sure it will be emotional.
“The kids are older now. They’re able to understand and appreciate this one a bit more than two-and-a-half years ago maybe. I’m looking forward to it.”
The city is looking forward to toasting Alfredsson on his special night.
NO HARD FEELINGS
The day Daniel Alfredsson walked away from the Senators on July 5, 2013, it was hard to imagine that someday his jersey would be retired.
As everybody knows, time heals all wounds.
Any ill feelings between the two sides were officially buried the day Alfredsson returned to Ottawa on Dec. 4, 2014 to retire as a member of the Senators.
“Usually I’m pretty easygoing. Whatever happens, happens,” said Alfredsson Tuesday when asked if he could have envisioned this day when he signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a UFA.
“… Somebody said to me once, ‘Good things happen to good people’. You work hard. You try to be a good citizen and then I don’t think anybody says, ‘Well if I do this and this then this is going to happen.’ I am extremely honoured, humbled and happy and that I’m going to be able to share it with a lot of my friends from Ottawa and a lot of family from Sweden.”
Alfredsson will head into his second season playing a front-office role as an adviser in the hockey operations department to GM Pierre Dorion.
“Daniel, first of all, his playing experience speaks for itself,” Dorion said. “When he played, I think he was a fan of the game and he knows the game in and out. He sees things from a player’s eyes but with Bryan (Murray), Randy (Lee) and myself, we’re teaching him how to see it from the management side.
“One thing about Alfie is that he’s extremely intelligent and he understands the nuances of the game. I think these things allow us to use him as best as we can. He likes the coaching part of things, he likes the management side of things. He likes to see how everything is going.”