doesn’t have to look far to see the signs.
Those obvious indicators that, 15 years into their existence, the Senators have woven themselves tightly into the fabric of the city they call home.
“The biggest thing here is the interest people have for hockey,” the Sens captain said as he reflected on the team’s years in the nation’s capital. “It’s something you get reminded about every day. (The fans) are very passionate about it.
“I think it’s very refreshing to have that, knowing that you have to take pride in what you do every day. There’s a lot of knowledgeable fans out there who are going to judge your performance every day. But there’s a special charm in that, I think.”
But the Senators’ time in Ottawa hasn’t always been so charmed. When Alfredsson first joined the team in 1995-96, it was in the throes of a fourth straight season near the bottom of the NHL, with the playoffs seemingly a pipe dream.
The next season, however, brought a surprise appearance in the post-season. Ottawa hasn’t missed the playoffs since then, a run of 10 straight seasons.
Ask Alfredsson what’s changed over that time, and the answer comes quickly.
“Expectations,” he said with a chuckle. “They are probably the biggest (thing). I think, as an organization, we’ve gone from not having everything in place to being one of the best-run organizations in the league. It’s a testament (to it that players) who’ve played here miss it when they leave. I think we’ve really grown in that aspect.”
So, too, has the bond between a group of hockey players and their adoring fans.
“As a team, we’ve always tried to be a big part of the community, and I have as well,” said Alfredsson. “We’re found a place we really like and we can call home. That’s not too common in pro sports these days.”