Daniel Alfredsson may be down to his final chance to win his first Stanley Cup championship. He's moving his family to Detroit to try to make it happen.
Alfredsson, the now former Ottawa Senators captain, signed a one-year contract reportedly worth $5.5 million with the Detroit Red Wings on Friday to chase what he called his dream with an organization that has won the Stanley Cup four times since he came into the NHL in 1995.
Alfredsson was the longest-serving captain in the NHL at 14 years and had spent his entire 17-season NHL career in Ottawa, going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs 14 times and the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. He said it wasn't until he could start talking to other teams as a free agent earlier this week that he decided moving away from Canada's capital city would give him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup.
"We had a lot of discussions here with our family leading up to this the last few days and it pretty much came down to a selfish decision in terms of I have not won the Stanley Cup," Alfredsson said. "I feel with Ottawa, they're getting closer and closer and definitely going in the right direction and have a really bright future in front of them, but at this stage of my career I just don't have the time to wait for that.
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"It's a tough decision to make and it still hasn't really sunk in, but I feel I'm doing this for myself, I feel this is right for me and I really like the fit with the Detroit Red Wings."
Alfredsson, 40, played 1,178 games for the Senators and had 1,108 points, but he reached the Cup Final one time and lost in five games to the Anaheim Ducks.
He talked in the past about how much fun he was having playing with the Senators as they were going through a rebuild, but he admitted the 2013-14 season may be his last and he didn't want to spend it as a mentor for a team that is on the cusp.
Alfredsson said he feels he can put the Red Wings over that top.
"The easy thing for me would be just to stay in Ottawa, enjoy my last year there and retire an Ottawa Senator," Alfredsson said. "It probably would have been a great ending as well, but I'm a competitive person and I wouldn't have felt the same drive, I think, in terms of just trying to be the mentor and to play it out. Ottawa is going to be a good team next year as well and I felt I needed a different challenge to do this. It was an extremely hard decision to make, but I feel it's the right one for me at this time."
The Red Wings are moving into the same division as the Senators, so to win the Stanley Cup there is a very real possibility Alfredsson will have to go through his former team.
He said he's thought about that and said he's not worried that leaving will tarnish his legacy in Ottawa, which includes several charities to which he will remain committed. However, he will be expecting a vitriolic reaction when he returns to Canadian Tire Centre.
"I expect there will be resentment and anger from fans, as I think there definitely should be," Alfredsson said. "I have my favorite sports teams, too, and if something happens with a player and it doesn't benefit my team, I don't like it. But I know what I've done in Ottawa. I gave it everything I had throughout my career and have so many people to thank. They have been almost too good to me.
"This is purely a situation for me where this is about me," he continued. "This is a decision I make for myself, not for anybody else. It's all about trying to get the Stanley Cup."
Though everything will look new in Detroit, the systems and style of play that the Red Wings use will be somewhat similar for Alfredsson, who spent the past two seasons playing under 2013 Jack Adams Award winner Paul MacLean in Ottawa. MacLean spent several seasons as an assistant to Red Wings coach Mike Babcock in Anaheim and Detroit.
Alfredsson is going to a team that is known for being very good to Swedes. He said he spoke to Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg quite often before making his decision to sign.
"I just really like the way Detroit plays hockey," Alfredsson said. "It's a puck-possession game. It's a push-the-pace game. I just think with the personnel they have throughout the lineup, I could come in and be of help in different areas and be part of something really good. I know quite a few of the guys. I know there personalities. I know how they play. The culture of Detroit really appealed to me from all the conversations I've had with different players that have been there."
Babcock told NHL.com he spoke with Alfredsson on Thursday and got the sense Detroit was the front-runner. The coach said he thinks the change in organizations will invigorate Alfredsson.
"The thing about leadership ability is when you're Alfie's age and you go to a new situation, put yourself out there, you bring your leadership skills, you bring your competitiveness, but also it's new because you haven't been with them and it's the change," Babcock said. "All those things are exhilarating. He's going to make our team way better."
Babcock also mentioned how Alfredsson has three boys are who into hockey, "and Detroit is an unbelievable spot for hockey development for young guys."
Alfredsson was quite clear his decision to leave Ottawa for Detroit was one he made for himself, in consultation with his family, because he feels it gives him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup.
"This is a sports decision for me, about challenging myself, to see if I can take it to the ultimate goal in our sport, and there is no bigger prize than the Stanley Cup," Alfredsson said. "It's pretty amazing, you play 18 years in the League and I've been in the Final once, that's the closest I have gotten. This move is just a sports decision."