The Ottawa Senators captain and Boston Bruins counterpart Zdeno Chara have been chosen to wear the 'C' for the two squads that will square off in the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game, set for Jan. 29 at Scotiabank Place. The announcement was made jointly by the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association earlier today.
“Everyone was kind of telling me it was going to happen,” Alfredsson told reporters this evening in San Jose, Calif., where the Senators will face the Sharks on Thursday night (10:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200). “I didn’t know for sure, but I guess I was expecting it from all the rumours. It’s a great honour and I think it’ll be a lot of fun to go up against Chara as well ... I look forward to beating him.”
Captains for the two teams were selected by a vote conducted among their fellow all-stars who'll participate in the game and the Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 28. Alfredsson and Chara will designate which players on their teams will take part in the various competitions held that night.
Almost since the day his participation in his sixth NHL all-star game was confirmed by fan balloting, Alfredsson — the top vote-getter among forwards — was widely believed to be a frontrunner to be named one of the game's captains. A year ago in Raleigh, N.C., Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes captained one of the teams and Alfredsson, the NHL's longest-serving team captain, seemed a logical choice in Ottawa.
Back on Jan. 5, when final balloting results were released, Alfredsson expressed a desire to serve as one of the captains in what could possibly be the final all-star game appearance of his illustrious 16-year career.
"I'd love to be one," he said at the time. "We'll see what happens."
Alfredsson admitted today he’s grateful to the fans who cast nearly 900,000 votes in his name, ensuring he’d get to take part in what he believes will be a special weekend in the city he now calls home.
“That’s what made it possible for me to get here, I believe,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve had a good enough season to be able to play myself (in), so for the fans to recognize the opportunity for me to be part of this and make it happen makes me feel really appreciated and humbled.”
The 39-year-old native of Goteborg, Sweden, holds Senators modern franchise records for games played, goals (404), assists (654) and points (1,058). He's slated to play his 1,100th career NHL game Saturday in Anaheim, Calif., when the Senators face off against the Ducks (4 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) at the Honda Center.
“Everyone was kind of telling me it was going to happen. I didn’t know for sure, but I guess I was expecting it from all the rumours. It’s a great honour and I think it’ll be a lot of fun to go up against Chara as well ... I look forward to beating him." - Daniel Alfredsson
Team Alfredsson will wear white jerseys during the all-star game, while Team Chara will wear blue. The two captains are to determine the rosters for the contest during the 2012 Molson Canadian All-Star Fantasy Draft, to be held Jan. 26 at the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau. It'll be televised by TSN and RDS.
Alfredsson should have plenty of familiar faces to choose from. Defenceman Erik Karlsson
, the overall top vote-getter, centre Jason Spezza
and forward Milan Michalek
were all chosen to participate in the game through fan balloting. Forward Colin Greening
was one of 12 rookies later added to take part in the skills competition.
“My first pick, if I get first pick, will be Karlsson,” Alfredsson said of his fellow Swede, who boarded with the Senators captain for a time when he first moved to Ottawa. “My kids would be very disappointed if I didn’t pick Erik. And he’s a pretty good player.”
The 34-year-old Chara, who led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup a year ago, is also no stranger to Senators fans. He sent four seasons in Ottawa, from 2001-02 through 2005-06, and helped the team average 106 points per season and claim two Northeast Division crowns during that stretch. He was a part of the first Senators team to reach the Eastern Conference final, in 2002-03
“I played with him for a long time and then played against him for a long time and (he’s) one of the players I respect the most in the league,” said Alfredsson. “He’s the one guy that I would say is the hardest worker in the league. I saw his development in coming from the Islanders to us, and how he developed into a superstar and then took that to the next level in Boston as well.
“He brings people around him with them and he makes them better. He demands a lot of them … he’s just a fierce competitor.”For a complete schedule of NHL all-star weekend events, click here.