I'm going to share an anecdote today because I can't think of a better way to tee up this interview for you all. I also shared this on twitter not too long ago. I hope I am not technically plagiarizing myself.
Warning: The following sentimentality may cause feelings.
While out and about this past weekend in Ottawa, I found myself at a restaurant during a very pleasant afternoon. At a table next to me was a dad and his young daughter. Together they were watching the various sporting events on the televisions in the establishment, and the latter was wearing an appropriately tiny child-sized Sens shirt.
After a while the girl began asking questions about hockey with various highlights passed by on the screens. The encounter, of course, came a couple of days after her Sens had been eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins, a concept not easily grasped when your age and shoe size are the same number.
Eventually the questions passed from "hockey" to "Alfie."
"Where's Alfie? I want to watch him play. When's he going to play again?"
It was at this point the dad carefully explained that, "Alfie won't be playing again for a little while. You'll have to wait a couple of months before he's back." The answer seemed to satisfy her. I decided to ponder the significance a little bit further because I deemed an innocuous conversation between a small child and her father to carry that weight.
The takeaway from all of this — for me, at least — was how unique the relationship between Daniel Alfredsson, the Sens and the City of Ottawa is. For the past 17 seasons over 18 years, the three have been in direct alignment with one another. The Sens are Ottawa's team and, in the same way, Alfie is Ottawa's captain, its star. For 17 seasons you have gone to see Ottawa play to see the Sens play to see Alfie play, and every other permutation. They are inseparable from one another.
Over the course of that timespan, Daniel Alfredsson has gone from a surprise 23-year-old Swedish wunderkind to (all caps necessary) DANIEL ALFREDSSON, legend and, perhaps more simply, "The Captain."
The unfortunate reality to all of this is he may never actually complete that triangle again depending on his forthcoming decision. Paul MacLean perhaps said it best when he replied, "I don't know if any team is ready for that," when asked if the Sens are ready for life without Alfie.
A caveat to all of this is the Sens don't quite know anything else.
The Senators had just turned four years old when Alfie came aboard from Frölunda. The next season they made their first of 11 straight playoff appearances — 14 in 16 tries — and two years after that he officially took over the 'C' that firmly entrenched his legacy.
If we are completely honest with ourselves, the pre-Daniel Alfredsson Sens bare no resemblance to the current edition beyond a name and a home. They won 33 games total. In a 48 game season the 2013 Sens won 25. Understatement: Expansion is a painful process.
It may be excessive to attribute such a grand turnaround to one individual under normal circumstances. These aren't normal circumstances. Daniel Alfredsson gave the Sens an identity, and one day, he will teach them about permanence. They will go on well after he finally hangs them up and shortly thereafter his number will ascend to the rafters at Scotiabank Place. Until we know for sure when that is it's a matter of enjoying the ride.
Sens TV and Gord Wilson sat down with #11 for an exclusive one-on-one interview this week. If you haven't seen it, you should.
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