|Even though his side was vanquished by Team Chara 12-9, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson couldn't help but smile about a memorable 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend in Ottawa (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images).
Already, he had authored the kind of story that, quite frankly, you'd have difficulty making up.
A story Daniel Alfredsson
himself has yet to fully comprehend.
Yet there he was, in the final minutes of the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game before a throng of 20,510 relentless supporters at Scotiabank Place on Sunday, still trying to take this almost fairytale occasion even one step further.
When all was said and done, Team Alfredsson was denied by Team Chara 12-9 in the National Hockey League's mid-season showcase event. And New York Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik, who turned in a hat-trick performance for the squad captained by Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, took home the game's most valuable player honours.
But the 39-year-old Alfredsson, in what figures to be another remarkable highlight in a 16-year NHL career filled with oodles of them, nearly weaved a little more magic in front of the home folks. The Ottawa Senators captain scored a pair of second-period goals 90 seconds apart to give his team a brief 6-5 lead and drew an assist on a third-period marker by Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks.
While that proved to be Team Alfredsson's last gasp on the scoreboard, it wasn't for lack of trying on the captain's part. He rang a shot off the goal post and had a few other golden opportunities to complete a hat trick of his own. Had that happened, it might well have been impossible to deny the man of this weekend in the capital the MVP award.
Imagine the kind of response that might have generated from fans who, for the second night in a row, greeted his introduction with a thunderous ovation. Alfredsson figures it'll take some time to put the entire weekend into perspective — maybe even longer for him to determine where it all stacks up against the rest of his career memories.
"From a selfish point, it's going to rank pretty high," Alfredsson said afterward. "To have a weekend like this is surreal. You can never dream up anything like this. You don't really know how to embrace it, really. I don’t think I’ll know until tonight, after the kids go to bed, when you can sit and relax. I’m sure I’ll be dead tired, but I can take it all in and realize that this is something not everybody gets a chance to experience. I don’t know if I deserve it or not, but it’s definitely humbling."
That his all-star teammates — most notably Henrik and Daniel Sedin — were pushing hard to give Alfredsson plenty of opportunities to score in the dying seconds said plenty about both the man and the moment. And it was something the three Senators (Jason Spezza
, Erik Karlsson
and Milan Michalek
) who joined him on Team Alfredsson couldn't embrace tightly enough
"It's been amazing to see the reception (for Alfredsson) from the other players," said Spezza. "You saw the other guys trying to pass Alfie the puck and trying to get him his third goal … hockey’s a very respectful game and guys really respect what Alfie’s done in his career.
"This was an amazing weekend to be a part of and it’s great to see the accolades (for) stuff he’s done in the past giving him the recognition he’s gotten this weekend. As teammates, we appreciate him and we appreciate what he’s done in our locker room. But for him to be on a national stage and have people give him the recognition he deserves is something we really enjoyed seeing."
Just a month ago, Alfredsson scored the 400th goal of his illustrious career — an overtime winner at Scotiabank Place against the Calgary Flames, capping the Senators' rally from a 3-0 deficit. Clearly, this is someone with an affinity for theatre. But even the native of Goteborg, Sweden, admits being taken somewhat aback by everything that has happened over the last four days.
"It's been surreal and it's like I've been walking on Cloud 9," he said. "I don't know if it's an accomplishment, this weekend, rather than more of a celebration of the things I've done before. I'm really thankful for that ... It's been overwhelming, to be honest."