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Alfie, Weiss excited for opportunity

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Once rivals in the Eastern Conference, center Stephen Weiss (L) and winger Daniel Alfredsson are now new Red Wings teammates. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Red Wings hosted a conference call on Friday afternoon to introduce the newest players to the team, right wing Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss.

With the addition of the two veteran forwards and the loss of Valtteri Filppula, who signed a five-year contract with $25 million with Tampa Bay, the Red Wings, according to, are $2.3 million under the cap ceiling.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland said he believes that Damien Brunner will sign somewhere else, however, the club is still talking to Daniel Cleary.

Here is a complete transcript of Friday’s conference call with Alfredsson, Weiss and Holland:

Holland (opening remarks): “It’s certainly an extremely exciting day in Detroit for our team. As we headed into his offseason and into the free agency period we felt that we had some needs that we wanted to fill. We wanted to get more scoring to our team. We felt we were challenged last year to score some goals and certainly in adding Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss to our team we’ve added two players who throughout their careers, Daniel’s been a tremendous scorer, one of the great scorers in the National Hockey League, and Stephen Weiss, one of the finest playmakers down in Florida.

“We’re adding a playmaker, we’re adding a scorer and I think Daniel can make plays and Stephen can score some goals.

“Obviously, both players provide leadership and both players provide character. I think it’s going to allow Mike Babcock more balance as we put our lines together as we come into training camp. An exciting day in Detroit and certainly want to welcome Daniel and Stephen to Detroit.”

Alfredsson (opening remarks): “I have made a very difficult decision yesterday to leave Ottawa after 18 years and 17 seasons. I’ve had nothing but great times in Ottawa. I didn’t real see myself making a change if you would have asked me a week ago, but as we got closer to free agency, thoughts started creeping in that it’s been 18 years and I haven’t won the Stanley Cup. That’s my dream.

“I had an opportunity to talk to a couple of teams. Talked to Ken, Babcock yesterday and they showed real interest, thought I could help the team. Everyone knows Detroit’s goals are always to be at the top of the game and to win championships. They’ve done that in the past. I’m really excited to get this opportunity at this stage of my career to go for a Stanley Cup and fulfill a longtime dream.”

Weiss (opening remarks): “I echo some of the same things. Coming from Florida and being there for about 10 years, only playing in the playoffs one year it was a pretty easy decision to come and play for Mr. Holland and Mr. Babcock and this Red Wings’ organization that’s had the culture of winning over the years and like Alfie said their goal every year is to win the Stanley Cup and to come to a team and be a part of that is really exciting. I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to come to this team and do everything in my power to help out and fit in and do what I can to help the Red Wings reach that ultimate goal.”

PHOTOS: Afredsson | Weiss

Question for Alfredsson

What was it like to tell Senators that you weren’t coming back?
“It was extremely difficult. Going a little bit further back just to come to that decision about maybe going somewhere else, even before I came to that point it was extremely hard. We’ve had a lot of discussions here with the family leading up to these last few days.

“It pretty much came down to one of the toughest decision, I have not won a Stanley Cup and that’s a big priority to me. And I feel with Ottawa I think they’re getting closer and closer and going in the right direction and have a really bright future in front of them, but at this point of my career I don’t have that kind of time to wait for that. It was a tough decision to make and it still hasn’t sunk in. I’m doing this for myself, I feel this is right for me and I really like to (finish) it with the Detroit Red Wings.”

In 18 career games against the Red Wings, veteran winger Daniel Alfredsson produced six goals and eight assists. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

Question for Alfredsson
What options did you have and why Detroit?
“I can’t say I had 29 choices to make. I did have some teams that were interested and expressed their interest and I talked to a few teams. I just really like the way Detroit plays hockey. It’s a puck-possession game, a push the pace game and I just think with the personnel they have throughout their lineup I think I can come in and be of help in different areas and be part of something really good.

“I know quite a few of the guys from before. I know their personalities. I know how they play. The culture of Detroit really appealed to me with all the conversations I’ve had with different players that have been there.”

Question for Alfredsson
Which Red Wings did you talk to?
“I talked to a couple of guys. (Henrik) Zetterberg I talked to two or three times. He was the one I bounced around ideas with mostly. That would be the guy I guess.”

Question for Weiss
Detroit needed a two-way center, they’ve got good wingers, was that appealing to you?
“It was big part of the appeal. I think when you look at Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and when coach said he wanted to put those two together and have me in the two spot it’s pretty exciting. Getting a chance to play with those two players and learn from them, those are two of the top (forwards) in the game and see what they do on a daily basis and try and get better as a player.

“The Red Wings were always a team I looked at growing up. Obviously playing in the Plymouth area for a few years, I got to go see some Wings’ games and always dreamt of playing for the Wings one day. And to have them interested in me and to have that opportunity is just awesome. Words can’t really express that right now.”

Question for Alfredsson
Did the way the season end in Ottawa weigh on your decision not to return?
“No not really. Like I said earlier, I felt a week ago I was not going to go anywhere and I was going to play in Ottawa. Then, I waited a few days and just started thinking, ‘Ottawa is in a great spot I think’. They’re going in the right direction and have a lot of things going for it. If this was my last season I don’t want to change anything that’s going on there. I don’t want to demand Bryan (Murray) or Eugene (Melynk) that you’re going to have make a push for me here to go for it. I think there’s too many good things going on there. The torch was going to have to be passed sometime pretty soon anyway. That’s pretty much my reasoning to decide to go and look somewhere else for a team that has a lot of guys that have been there before and they’re going to go for it and give it their best chance to win it again. A lot of people in this organization knows what it takes. That’s kind of how this came about. I think the easiest thing for me would be just to stay in Ottawa, enjoy my last year there and retire an Ottawa Senator would have been a great ending as well. But getting the ultimate prize, I’m a competitive person, I wouldn’t have felt the same drive in terms of just trying to be there and play it out. Ottawa is going to be a good team next year as well. I felt I needed a different challenge. It’s an extremely hard decision to make, but I feel for me at this time it’s the right one for me.”

Question for Alfredsson
Will this decision damage your legacy on Ottawa?
“No. I’m not worried about my legacy. I expect there will be resentment and anger from fans, and least I think there definitely should be. I’ve thought that question through as well. I have my favorite sports teams too and if something happens with a player that I don’t like, it doesn’t benefit my team, I don’t like it. But I know what I’ve done in Ottawa. I’ve got it everything I’ve had throughout my career and have so many people to thank. They almost been too good to me and this is purely a situation for me where this is about me. This is the decision that I make for myself, not for anybody else and it’s all about trying to get the Stanley Cup.”

Question for Alfredsson
You’ve had huge impacts with many, many charities in Ottawa, will you continue that?
“I’m going to stay committed to my charities in Ottawa. I do work with the Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as the Ottawa Mental Health Hospital. I’m going to keep being committed to them. I’ve invested so much in Ottawa and Ottawa has invested so much in me as well. This is a sports decision for me, about challenging myself to see if I can take it to the ultimate goal in our sport. There is no bigger prize than the Stanley Cup and it’s pretty amazing, you play 18 years in this league and I’ve been to the finals once. That’s only the closest that I’ve gotten, so this move, I feel, is a sports decision. My commitment to Ottawa doesn’t change in those terms. I’ve invested too much there, so to answer your question, I’m going to stay committed to my charities in Ottawa.”

Question for Alfredsson
Will your family stay in Ottawa?
“We’re going to move the whole family to Detroit. I would find it extremely difficult to live away for a whole season; also something that we really discussed thoroughly, my wife and I, and our children as well. It’s going to be an adjustment. We’re going to go to Detroit, all of us, and I signed a one-year deal and I don’t know what will happen next, but that’s the plan right now.”

Question for Alfredsson
You might return to Ottawa after the 2013-14 season?
“I can’t say. You never know what’s going to happen, but I always live to the short-term and Ottawa is always a special place. I won’t commit to anything, but we’ll take a year in Detroit and go from there.”

Stephen Weiss, who once played junior hockey for the Plymouth Whalers, collected three goals and five assists in nine career games against the Red Wings. (Photo by Getty Images)

Question for Weiss
Did you enjoy the comparisons made to Steve Yzerman in your junior years, earning you the nickname Weizerrman?
“The comparisons at that age were a little scary to be compared to a guy like Steve. But I think it came from playing a two-way game and being responsible on both sides of the puck and that’s something that I take a lot of pride in. Playing up against the best players and trying to shut them down, and also being accountable offensively too. I think that’s where those comparisons came from. Obviously, we’ve had pretty different careers to this date, but it’s neat to come back to a city where I’ve played before and used to watch the Wings and watch Steve play there before, and wondered about maybe playing for that franchise one day. It’s kind of surreal, but I’m not coming there looking to be anything that he was. I’m going to play my own game and do what’s asked of me and just try to help the team win in all of our games and listen to the guys who have been there before. Listen to the Zetterbergs and Datsyuks, Kronwalls and Franzens, and guy like that who have played years in the playoffs and guys like Alfie as well, who have a lot of experience. I’m going to come there and learn and help out as much as I can.”

Question for Weiss
You're moving out of Florida and into a hockey hotbed, Hockeytown, does that give you reason to be excited?
“Absolutely, yeah, it’s something that I’m real excited about, actually. I got a good taste of it playing in Plymouth and going to Wings’ games and being in that building and playing in there over the years a few times. It’s a pretty special place, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to the pressure of playing in that type of market. It’s been a long time since I’ve done it, but I’m hungry to be a part of that type of situation again. I think my game will thrive.”

Question for Holland
Are the Red Wings done making move this summer?
“This is going to be a work–in-progress over the course of the summer. The plan going in obviously, we won the Cup in ’08 and lost in the finals in ’09. We haven’t been to the final four since, unfortunately. We lost twice in Game 7 of Round 2 this year in overtime to Chicago and two years ago in Game 7 in San Jose. I think we have a lot of pieces here. I feel good about our nucleus. I feel good that Pavel Datsyuk re-upped for three more years. We have Pav around for four more years. We believe that we have a tremendous goaltender in Jimmy Howard, so with the addition of Alfie and Stephen, we think that we’re going to be a lot deeper up front going to Traverse City on Tuesday for our development camp.

“Piet VanZant, our trainer, just said he touched base with Darren Helm today, and Darren Helm is feeling very good. Darren Helm is a real key piece to our team and hopefully in Traverse City next week we get good news that he’s on the ice and can push and feels good and we can expect to see a healthy Darren Helm in training camp. When you think about adding Steve and Alfie and Darren Helm to our team, from last year’s team, would be a tremendous, tremendous up-grade. We obviously got a couple of extra players, again, we think we’re a work-in-progress. I’d still like to look at making a move or two, but it might take a month or two to finally shape our roster.

“When I talked two days ago with Alfie’s agent, J.P. Barry, and was just reaching out making the rounds, I really expected to kind of get a response that he was going to stay in Ottawa, and J.P. said that Daniel was taking some time with his family and was considering talking to some teams and to explore what was out there. We set up a conference call yesterday where Mike Babcock and I talked to Daniel and J.P Barry for about 45 minutes to tell them about our team. Got the news this afternoon that Daniel had decided to come join us, so a lot of this happened fast. The same thing with Stephen. Yesterday I talked to … Mike Babcock and I had a conference call with Pat Morris and Stephen, basically told them the same things about our team. We think we’ve got a tremendous goaltender who’s durable. We think our defense is a little bit under the radar, but we have a lot of kids who can skate and can pass the puck and got a year of experience under their belt, and we wanted to add some forwards, we wanted to add some scoring, we wanted to get deep up front. So it’s a long-winded way of say I think it was a great day for us. “Our roster is going to take shape over the course over the next month or two. I’m going to try to explore over the next month or two. We obviously are going to have to move a player or two. I’m not sure if we’re done with free agency. Obviously, the one guy that’s out there is Dan Cleary, I continue to stay in touch with him. Damien Brunner, I certainly expect he’s going to be moving on to a different situation, but I’ll see what happens with Dan Cleary over the next few hours. But it’s been a tremendous day.”

Question for Alfredsson
When you talked to Zetterberg did you talk about playing on same line with him and Datsyuk?
“They’re the best two-way players in the game. I feel that’s the strength of my game, is playing a two-way game. I love watching them play and the whole team play with or without the puck because they do so many good things, little things that many people can’t pick up. They perform extremely well under pressure and in important situations. In talking to Henrik, he hadn’t made up his mind who he was going to play with yet. … No, I’m just kidding. It’s obviously going to be Babcock’s decision.

“He was just happy that I was able to join as a right-handed shot. For me, playing, even with Stephen, as left-handed players should open up a lot of chances for me. I talked to him about a lot of things, but not just hockey, but living around Detroit. He was very complimentary. I have a large family with four boys, young boys that he thought they would find everything in Ottawa, in Detroit.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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