Former Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson bid farewell to Ottawa today at a press conference he held at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. At today's event he discussed his charity work, his future in Detroit with the Red Wings and his departure from the Sens.
Sens GM Bryan Murray discussed the events today and covered the negotiation timeline, his feelings on Alfredsson's departure and the future of the Sens going forward.
Here's what Murray had to say...
On the Alfredsson situation:
Well, again, I'm disappointed that Daniel Alfredsson left to go to Detroit. I'm disappointed to hear that contract issues were something important to him that he didn't feel we were trying to accommodate. I think in every shape and form we wanted this man back to be the captain of our hockey team and it didn't work out. Sometimes in negotiating all the facts aren't maybe presented to the player the right way, but we certainly feel bad that Daniel reacted the way he did today.
On why the contract wasn't signed:
I thought that JP Barry and I had a good meeting in Montreal prior to the draft. We both presented numbers that I was led to believe, from talking to JP on the following Tuesday, that he was going to talk to Daniel Alfredsson and come back to me with a number that was the right number for them to stay in Ottawa and play. I waited for that to happen, I was told that would happen — not that I was supposed to present another number — but it was supposed to be the other way, I told him I didn't want to get into a long winded negotiation session about Daniel Alfredsson. I felt he deserved more credit than that. Tell me the right number and we would meet it.
On Alfredsson's previous contract:
We structured the four-year contract so that Daniel would get most of the money up front. That seems to be the trend in this age of hockey where the players want money up front to them. We did that and we worked it in such a way that he got finances early and we got a cap number that worked for our hockey team that allowed us to build and add if need be so that we would be a contending hockey team.
On last summer's negotiations:
The thing I remember about it very clearly was Daniel came to me in Vegas and indicated that he wanted to play this past year and one more year and I was very happy to hear that and I said, "That's something we'll certainly work very hard at getting done." When I talked to his agent following that meeting in Vegas, again it came out that he would play for $1 million, which was his contract this past year, but $8 million would be what he expects so that they get a level number over the two year period. I felt at that time we couldn't proceed at that number and Daniel came in to my office and suggested he would play the year and see what he wanted to do after that.
On this year's negotiations:
Well, again, Daniel was going back to Sweden to spend part of his summer with his family. He came into my office the Thursday — I think he left on a Monday — it was the week before the draft, told me he needed some time to decide if he wanted to continue playing at the NHL level. I did not hear and I did not ask for an answer, as I didn't the previous year, until he was ready to give it to me. On the Friday before the NHL draft there was a statement that came out of Sweden that indicated he wanted to come back and play in the National Hockey League — we assumed meaning the Ottawa Senators. I met with JP Barry on the Saturday afternoon prior to the draft. He put a number of $7 million on a one year contract or two years at $12 million — $5 million and $5 million, plus a $2 million signing bonus — I made an offer at that time of $4.5 million. We indicated and I indicated to him that his number didn't work and he said my number didn't work. We agreed that we would talk during the draft, which didn't happen. The next conversation with him was the Tuesday following the draft. He asked me what our bottom line number would be. I suggested that wasn't the approach we should take. I asked him to talk to Daniel to find out a real number that he would play in Ottawa for, be it a one or two year deal, and we would talk and, I felt, make it happen. Eugene (Melnyk) had made it very clear that he wanted to bring Daniel back so I was assuming that we would get close to the number he has now taken in Detroit. I waited — he (Barry) said he needed to talk to Daniel about that — I waited Wednesday, I did not hear back. Allison Vaughan phoned his office four or five times on Thursday. I finally sent him an e-mail to indicate my phone number for the evening. At 8:40 that evening, actually, I got a call from Daniel telling me that he was investigating either Boston or Detroit — he didn't tell me which team at that point — he told me he thought there was a better chance to win a Stanley Cup on a more veteran team. That he felt we were going to be at the low cap and, therefore, not going to be able to sign another veteran or two and that was the last I heard until he signed with Detroit.
On the Sens moving forward:
First of all I have to say that I have great respect for Daniel Alfredsson. I have admiration in that he was a great player on the ice. He was a good captain in the room. He spent a lot of time talking to me and our management people. He cared greatly about the organization. I have to wish him all the luck in the world and hope that he fulfills a dream that we all have in this business and that's to win. But, from our point of view, we have a rookie camp coming up in about three weeks. We have NHL camp starting. We're left with, I think, a real good nucleus of players. We've made a couple of additions so we have to all move on. For us to go back and forth about who said what is unfair to both parties and I'd prefer to wish Daniel good luck and get on with our business of having a very good, competitive hockey club in Ottawa.
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