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Sens won't soon forget 'extremely special' weekend

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
They tried as a group to sum up this unforgettable weekend and perhaps that was so entirely fitting.

Ask any of the four Senators players who took part in the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game on Sunday before a full house at Scotiabank Place — and all the festivities that surrounded it during this historic hockey weekend in Ottawa — and they'll tell you being able to share it together made it the spectacular occasion that it turned out to be.

No matter what happens in the rest of their careers, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek will always have the memories of this weekend together — good times that no doubt will stay with this quartet for a lifetime. That the very fans whose massive support in all-star balloting ensured all four of them would be there were a part of it all, too ... well, that was mere icing on the cake.

"For us to have this weekend at home was extremely special," said Spezza, who notched a goal and an assist in his second all-star appearance. "Our fans have really stuck behind us and they’ve been phenomenal this year. The city, the way it’s embraced it … just talking to guys in the dressing room, everyone’s had such a good time, everyone’s had such a warm welcome and the fans are just generally thrilled just to have everybody around.

"Just having all the great players in the league here is a great thank you to a great hockey city. For us to be able to do this at home — and the four of us to do it together — we’re never going to get that opportunity again, no matter how long we play."

Michalek isn't likely to forget his first all-star game, given that it came in front of his home fans and it included a third-period goal for Team Alfredsson, which fell to Team Chara 12-9 in the latest edition of the National Hockey League's mid-season showcase event.

"It was a great experience for me," said the Czech winger. "It was my first time in the all-star game and the city put on a great show and everything was great. The guys loved it and everybody loved it. I enjoyed it and I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life. I really enjoyed being here and I had lots of fun."

While Alfredsson basked in the glow of the fans' adulation throughout all-star weekend, he spoke with emotion of having three teammates alongside him who have greatly helped make his 16th NHL season a renaissance affair for the league's current longest-serving captain.

"What makes it special is being here with these three guys, who you go through everything with day in and day out," said Alfredsson. "I’ve been fortunate to play for a long time and what these guys do every day … they’ve helped me get a second wind here this late in my career. That’s what makes it fun, to share it with other people.

"We have a lot of fun together in the locker room and when we travel. We play games and we put a lot of effort into this and we try to suck it all in as much as we can. It wouldn’t have been as much fun without these guys with me (this weekend), that’s for sure."

Karlsson applauded the efforts of everyone who helped Ottawa put on a top-notch all-star weekend.

"Everything around it has been really successful," he said. "I've been downtown and seen everything down there and it's really nice to see how much effort the city has put into it to make this happen and make it work."

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