There is no love lost between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Years of playoff frustration, for the Senators against the despised Leafs, and a long history of Battles of Ontario have made bad blood only worse over time. At least until Monday night.
No Senator is more disliked by Leafs Nation than longtime Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson. His personal success against the Leafs combined with run-ins with Darcy Tucker and one infamous gesture where Alfredsson appeared, to Toronto fans, to be ridiculing then Leafs captain Mats Sundin has made Alfredsson a subject of loud Leafs booing both at the Air Canada Centre and even Alfredsson’s home rink in Ottawa, Scotiabank Place.
And yet here was the Ottawa captain reaching out following Toronto’s devastating 5-4 utter collapse to the Boston Bruins in Game 7.
“I watched not the whole game, but parts of the game,” Alfredsson told the gathered media in Pittsburgh Tuesday morning.
“[The Maple Leafs] looked like they played really well. They looked like they were able to slow down Boston [so the Bruins] couldn’t get their forecheck going or any momentum. They did a lot of good things defensively and got a 4-1 lead.”
And then, of course, everything began to change in third period.
“Once they get to 4-2, obviously they didn’t forecheck as hard. They wanted to protect their lead,” Alfredsson continued in what could only be described as a sympathetic tone.
“Boston gets a little bit of confidence and a few good bounces and that’s what happens. It’s momentum and it’s sports. They almost weathered the storm but Boston had some experienced guys on the ice at the end – and they made the difference.”
Not quite a hug, but very much a sympathy card.