|Daniel Alfredsson's father Hasse, mother Margareta, sister Cecilia Sabel and nephew Alfred Sabel made the trip from Sweden for his 1,000-game celebratiion tonight at Scotiabank Place. They helped unveil a mural depicting the Senators captain's career highlights (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
The years flashed before Hasse Alfredsson's eyes as his heart swelled with a father's pride.
Before him on a wall inside Scotiabank Place hung a new mural that depicted captain Daniel Alfredsson
's career with the Senators.
From fresh-faced rookie to unquestioned leader in the Ottawa dressing room. And what a ride it has indeed been for Alfredsson and the Swedish family that has arrived in Ottawa to celebrate his 1,000-game milestone in the National Hockey League.
"The people here in Ottawa have always been nice to Daniel," said Hasse Alfredsson of the son he and his wife, Margareta, raised in Goteborg. "There have been some hard times through the years, but they are always doing (good things) for him.
"And it’s amazing to stay on a team for 15 years. It’s unbelievable. We know many people in Canada now and it’s like our second homeland. We always like to come back here."
As he glanced at the mural, Hasse Alfredsson focused on the photo of a young Daniel holding the Calder Trophy he earned as the NHL's rookie of the year in 1995-96. He has grown in so many ways since then, raising his own family in Ottawa — Alfredsson and wife Bibbi have three young sons, Hugo, Loui and Fenix — while becoming a fixture in a community that he has admitted it'll be hard to leave when his playing days are done.
"When you see this picture here from the beginning … you get some tears in your eyes," said Hasse Alfredsson. "He is doing what he likes to do and he's been doing it his whole life. When you come close to it, it’s always emotional. But it’s unbelievable. The club has done so much for us here during the years we’ve been here. Now you see this … it’s unbelievable."
While he long ago achieved superstar status in the eyes of adoring Senators fans, Alfredsson has remained true to his roots. He admits all the attention surrounding the 1,000-game achievement leaves him feeling "awkward" at times. But Hasse Alfredsson would expect nothing less from his son and he is most proud of the humility he constantly displays.
"The biggest thing you’re proud of is when you see a (son) always standing on his feet who doesn’t climb too high," said Hasse. "If you climb too high, you fall too hard. He’s always been staying on the ground. That’s good.
"The people here in Ottawa have always been nice to Daniel. There have been some hard times through the years, but they are always doing (good things) for him. And it’s amazing to stay on a team for 15 years. It’s unbelievable. We know many people in Canada now and it’s like our second homeland. We always like to come back here." - Hasse Alfredsson
"I've been just a regular guy my whole life. It’s easy to stand with your feet on the ground."
Alfredsson credits his family — which includes younger brother Henric, a former Ottawa 67's player who works for the Ottawa Police Services, and sister Cecilia back in Sweden — with instilling the right qualities in him.
"They made me who I am, pretty much," he said. "I'm very proud of them, the way they live their life and I'm happy they can be here tonight."
Tonight, a packed house at Scotiabank Place will stand as one in appreciation for the man who is truly the face of the modern Senators franchise, both on the ice and off. And no doubt the chants of "Alfie, Alfie" figure to resonate throughout the arena.
"He's done so much for the organization," said Senators president Cyril Leeder. "This evening has really been 16 years in the making. We're very proud of him and this is just our way of saying thank you. And I think it's the same from the fans, who want to be here tonight to say thank you to Daniel for all he's done."
The mural offers a further reminder for that to everyone who walks by it on the main concourse level at Scotiabank Place.
"It's going to be here for a long, long time yet," said Leeder. "It starts when we drafted him in 1994 and we've left enough room on the end, just in case there's a few more special chapters in Daniel's career. We're really proud of him and we hope the time line honours him properly."