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Alfredsson discusses draft strategy on 'NHL Hour'

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Daniel Alfredsson has won the Calder Trophy, appeared in a Stanley Cup Final and scored more than 400 goals in his NHL career -- all of it spent with the Ottawa Senators, and most of it as their captain.

Thursday night presents a unique experience for Alfredsson, though, as he's responsible for putting together his own team for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game, set to take place Sunday in his home arena, Scotiabank Place.

Hours before the Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft got under way, Alfredsson appeared on "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman" to discuss his draft strategy as he goes head to head with Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, a former teammate and the captain of the team he'll be opposing.

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"I'm nervous, but at the same time I'm telling myself, 'You can't go wrong with this. There are so many good players,'" Alfredsson said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge. I met with Chara a little bit earlier just to discuss …"

"To rig it?" Bettman asked facetiously.

"Not to rig it; that's not going to happen. I think we're too competitive for that, both of us," a laughing Alfredsson said. "But none of us have done this before, so to see what the format kind of was. It's going to be a lot of fun. I really enjoy this opportunity to go through this. I've been reading up on most players, so I have a pretty good idea what I want to do."

Alfredsson, who will be assisted by fellow countryman and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, revealed some of his drafting strategy.

"I want to win the game, there's no question," Alfredsson said. "I think goalies are going to be very important. I'm fortunate to have Henrik right away. I'd like a skating team, a puck-possession team, but that brings pretty much everybody into play. Being in Ottawa, I'm going to try to probably take a few of our guys like (Milan) Michalek, (Erik) Karlsson. Claude Giroux has Ottawa ties, you know, try to get the crowd on my side."

It didn't take long for Alfredsson to get the fans on his side after arriving in Ottawa for the 1995-96 season. There was an adjustment for the product of Gothenburg, Sweden, after he was taken in the sixth round of the 1994 NHL Draft.

"I had never been to North America," Alfredsson said. "Obviously a late-bloomer. I got the call the day after the draft, not knowing I got drafted, and an agent from Sweden called me and said, 'You've been drafted by Ottawa,' and it was like, 'OK, what happens now?' So I did look up where Ottawa was, found out Ottawa's the capital of Canada, and a little bit over a year later I came over for my first camp."

Alfredsson put up 26 goals and 61 points in his rookie season en route to winning the Calder. He improved to 71 points the following season, the Senators made the playoffs for the first time in the reborn franchise's history, and a star was born.

Daniel Alfredsson
Right Wing - OTT
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 38
SOG: 122 | +/-: 6
"I had a lot of trepidation. I didn't know what to expect," Alfredsson said of first coming over to North America. "I didn't know the coaches, how were they going to be? I'd heard a lot of different stories back home from different people. My expectations going in, I worked extremely hard in the summer so I knew that if I didn't make it I gave it the best chance I could.

"I got fortunate enough in rookie camp -- they had Martin Straka here, same agent as me, he'd been in the League a few years. He kind of took me under his wing, helped me out, all the different things outside the rink that I was pretty uncomfortable with. And then also I was able to play with him, and that kind of set the tone for me to be able to make a good impression on them."

Alfredsson was named Senators captain prior to the 1999-2000 season and helped lead the team to within a game of the Final in 2003. He set career highs with 43 goals and 103 points in 2005-06, and the following season Ottawa became Eastern Conference champions before losing to the Anaheim Ducks in a five-game Final.

Alfredsson, who turned 39 last month, is enjoying a resurgent season that made him a slam-dunk choice for the fans to vote into the All-Star Game. He has 17 goals, 38 points and a plus-6 rating in 46 games -- and the Senators rallied after losing five of their first six games to sit sixth in the East standings after missing the playoffs last season.

"We really had to do some soul-searching," Alfredsson said. "It was a tough start, and I have to admit that I thought maybe this is going to be another tough, long year. But we were able to turn it around, and I think the coach (Paul MacLean) guided us through the hard times and we started really believing in his system. Since then, we've been remarkably consistent."

"I'm nervous, but at the same time I'm telling myself, 'You can't go wrong with this. There are so many good players. I'm looking forward to the challenge." -- Senators forward and All-Star Captain Daniel Alfredsson
Nobody knows yet what the final months of this season will bring for the Senators or their captain, who said he hopes to play another year after this one, but on Thursday his focus was on the All-Star festivities ahead and what they meant to his city.

"I don't know what to expect, to be honest, but being here my whole career I know how much the people care for hockey, how passionate they are, how knowledgeable they are," Alfredsson said. "For them to be able to have all the best players in the world here at this location, I know it means a lot to them. All the players are going to be treated extremely well while they're here. They're going to be cheered on loudly, be able to show off their skills, and for me at this stage in my career to be able to have this kind of moment, I'm very proud and very humbled to be here and I'm going to try take it all in as much as I can and make sure my family shares it with me as well. I can't tell you how much I look forward to this weekend."
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