|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson hit the 1,000-game plateau at the end of the 2009-10 NHL season. Now he's closing in on the same number for career points with a current total of 997 (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images).
Six months later, the enormity of the moment still has a way of humbling the greatest Ottawa Senators player of them all.
Even as he ponders that special evening at Scotiabank Place one more time, Daniel Alfredsson
can’t contain his amazement about it all. That a team and a city that have embraced the soft-spoken Swede and his family in many ways over the years could overwhelm him so much by paying the ultimate tribute to their beloved captain’s greatest hockey achievement yet.
“I’ve thought about it and it was an unbelievable experience,” Alfredsson said in reflecting upon the April 10 celebration that saluted his 1,000th National Hockey League game — every one of them with the franchise that drafted him into the league in 1994. “I could not have prepared myself for it. It was way more and way beyond what I expected or thought it would be. It was a huge highlight for me in my career, to be appreciated like that.
“I almost felt like it was too much. It almost felt like ‘maybe I should retire now. It doesn’t get any better than this.’ But it was unbelievable.”
Now Alfredsson stands on the verge of another grand achievement. With a power-play goal against the Penguins during Monday night’s 5-2 loss to the Penguins, the Senators captain pushed his career NHL point total to 997. It is almost a certainty that he will hit the 1,000-point milestone before the month is out and perhaps as soon as the end of this week — the Senators are in Buffalo on Friday night to face the Sabres (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200), then are home to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
“I can’t say that it’s something now that you look at and say ‘that’s unbelievable’ or ‘that’s great,’ ” Alfredsson said when asked before the season about the 1,000-point milestone. “It’s a number and it’ll be fun when it happens.”
Undoubtedly, it won’t top the night of the 1,000-game celebration in front of adoring Ottawa fans, who stood as one and chanted “Al-fie, Al-fie” during an emotional 11-minute ceremony prior to the Senators’ regular-season finale against the Sabres — almost every one of them clad in an “Alfredsson 1,000 games” T-shirt that was handed out prior to the contest. His parents, Hasse and Margareta, travelled from Sweden for the occasion, along with younger sister Cecilia, a couple of childhood friends and brother Henric, who works for the Ottawa Police Services.
What struck Alfredsson the most about it all, he said, was sharing the spotlight during the ceremony with the family he and his wife, Bibbi, have raised in the city that has become such a huge part of their lives. And a place they might indeed call home when Alfredsson’s playing days are done.
“Standing with my family on the ice, I just realized how attached we’ve become to this city,” said Alfredsson. “We’ve grown a family here — all my kids (sons Hugo, Loui and Fenix) were born in Ottawa and I’ve lived pretty much my whole adult life here. I think that’s what stood out for me. I was just thinking I’ve got three kids, a wife and I’m playing the game that I love. I’m very lucky.”
Alfredsson doubts any of his children are old enough yet to fathom how much their father means to a community and a team that reveres him so much.
“The oldest one, Hugo, is seven and he understands that I play hockey for the Senators,” he said. “But he can’t put it in perspective, I don’t think. He knows that I’m the captain, but I don’t think he realizes what that means… they probably think that all dads get to do this.”