KANATA, Ont. -- He may not have been awarded the Most Valuable Player award Sunday, but Daniel Alfredsson will always be Ottawa's biggest All-Star.
The Sens' captain scored two goals in the second period of the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, and would have scored a hat trick if not for the play of Tim Thomas, who was in net for Team Chara during the third period.
"I didn't even try at all in the third (period) to score," Alfredsson said, eliciting humor with his deadpan approach.
The crowd went wild for Alfredsson, chanting his name after his first goal and giving him a standing ovation. The Swede was clearly touched by the moment and lifted his stick in acknowledgment.
But, it wasn't quite enough to steal the MVP honors from Team Chara's Marian Gaborik, who had three goals and an assist in his team's 12-9 win.
"It was a lot of fun, from start to finish," Alfredsson said. "I predicted before the game that (it would) pick up as we went on. I wanted to get one a bit earlier to get the crowd cheering a bit, but (Henrik and Daniel) Sedin served me up nice on the second one -- open net. Overall, it was great to be out there with the other guys."
While they have played together for Team Sweden, it was the first time that the Sedin brothers had played on the same line as Alfredsson. They were happy to be a part of the captain's experience in front of an adoring crowd.
"For us, it was a great honor," Henrik Sedin said. "He's a big star in (Sweden) but I think he's an even bigger star in his adopted country. To see the reception he got from his fans and all the players because he's been here for a long time. You can tell that they appreciate it. This is his home. For most of his life he's been here, and he's raised his kids here.
"He's a guy we've looked up to, even before we came over (to Canada). I was a little surprised. I've never been part of a reception like that and he's been here for a while, so I didn't know how much they appreciate him."
Erik Karlsson, who plays alongside Alfredsson in Ottawa, is grateful for every chance he gets to play with the 39-year-old, regardless of whether it's a regular game or on the All-Star stage.
"Obviously, he's been one of the guys who started things for Sweden to come to the NHL," said Karlsson, another Swede. "To play alongside him and able to be on the same team as him, and in the All-Star Game, is something more than you (could) ever dream of. That's just the kind of guy he is for the city and the organization, he deserves this and I know he's cherishing it a lot."
The four-day All-Star Weekend has been a celebration of Alfredsson's legacy in Ottawa. At times, the outpouring of love and support has left Alfredsson speechless. He says he will need a bit of time to digest all that has transpired in the past 96 hours or so.
"From a selfish standpoint (this weekend) is probably going to rank pretty high. It's just been a whole ego week," he said with a laugh. "But it's been great to share this with Jason (Spezza), Milan (Michalek) and Erik, too. I think the way this year has developed for me has been really good, and these guys have led the way as a team this season, to surprise everyone, pretty much.
"I know personally I feel healthy; I'm having fun on the ice again. And then to have a weekend like this is surreal. You don't really know how to embrace it. I think tonight, after the kids go to bed and I can relax, I'll be able to take it all in. This is something that not everyone gets to experience, and I don't know if I deserve it or not, but it's definitely humbling. I don't know if it's an accomplishment this weekend as much as a celebration of what I've done."
Despite all the fanfare, the 39-year-old wasn't going to let one weekend decide whether he comes back next year.
"I don't think (today) made me want to play more," Alfredsson said. "I think the way I feel in important games is going to make that decision."
Spezza, who was also a member of Team Alfredsson this weekend, marveled at the reception his captain received from other players around the League.
"I think it's been amazing to see the reception of the other players and the rest of the guys -- trying to pass Alfie the puck, trying to get him his third goal," he said. "The way they all acknowledge what he's done in his career, see a guy put so much time into one team and to have so much success. Hockey is a very respectful game, and players really respect what Alfie has done in his career.
"This was an amazing weekend to be a part of, and great to see the accolades -- it's like (Alfredsson) said, the stuff he's done in the past that's getting him the recognition and as teammates, we appreciate him in our locker room. But on an international stage, to see him get so much attention is something that we really enjoy."
The captain refused to take all the credit, admitting that his Senators teammates have made the difference for him at this stage of his hockey life.
"What makes it special is being here with these guys and what you go through day in day out, and how you've worked towards something," Alfredsson said. "I've been fortunate to play a long time, but with these guys they've helped me get a second wind this late in my career. It makes it fun to share it with other people. We put a lot of effort into this and we try to (take) it all in as much as we can. It wouldn't have been as much fun without these guys with me, that's for sure."
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