From Alexei Yashin to Radek Bonk to Erik Karlsson, the Ottawa Senators have gone through plenty of changes in their 20-plus years as an NHL franchise.
Daniel Alfredsson has been the constant since he entered the league in 1995, and that won’t change any time soon.
The 40-year-old Alfredsson will return to the Senators in 2013-14 for his 18th season, the team confirmed Friday. Few players embody an organization as much as Alfredsson, who has served as captain for 14 seasons.
“Alfie’s Ottawa. You think of the Ottawa Senators in general, I think you probably think Daniel Alfredsson because he’s been there for most of their time there,” former teammate and current Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery said. “I think he is the Ottawa Senators.”
Alfredsson’s agent, J.P. Barry, informed the team Friday morning that he was committed to playing for the Senators next year. General manager Bryan Murray said in a statement that the team will now begin the process of negotiating a contract for Alfredsson that it hopes to have done “in the near future.”
Alfredsson is a six-time NHL all-star and recently won the Mark Messier Leadership Award. Coach Paul MacLean said that trophy could be renamed for Alfredsson some day if the league wanted to do so.
“The two years I’ve been here in Ottawa, he’s been a great help to me,” MacLean said recently. “We have conversations all the time about our team, how we’re playing, what’s going on. He’s been a tremendous help for me.”
MacLean credited Alfredsson and other Senators veterans for helping the team thrive despite injuries to Karlsson, centre Jason Spezza and goaltender Craig Anderson. Alfredsson had 10 goals and 16 assists in 47 regular-season games and had 10 points in 10 playoff games as Ottawa made it to the Eastern Conference semifinal.
His most noticeable value to the Senators, though, is in leadership.
“Alfie leads by example,” Emery said. “He’s a dedicated guy, he’s an unselfish player on the ice. He sacrifices points for defence all the time. He’s played that way his whole career. And being a captain for as long as he has with the same organization, I think he has become the backbone, kind of a staple guy there that knows every aspect of the game, especially as it pertains to Ottawa in that environment.”
In 1,178 NHL games, Alfredsson has 426 goals and 628 assists. He also led the Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup final.