Kukla's Korner


Sens ready for the big show

  • Alfie lets reporters into his town and his family’s home, showing his truly inspiring nature.
  • Today’s pre-season game has Frolunda, the team and its town, fully stoked.
  • The case for making Alfie a Sens lifer.

When Alfredsson was 17 and went to play for Molndal, Hasse was asked to become an assistant coach.

“Don’t you want me to play hockey anymore?” Daniel asked his puzzled dad.

“Yes, I want you to,” replied Hasse.

“Then you can’t be coach,” said his son.

“(Daniel) said: ‘If he’s going to coach me, I’ll put my skates in the closet,’” said Margareta. Daniel didn’t want anyone to think he got anything because he was a coach’s son.

It’s amazing to think not only of what a great hockey player and a great person Alfie’s become, but the effect he has had on his community in Goteborg (never sure how to spell it, but considering the Senators’ own website uses both -borg and -berg, I trust Alfie and his fellow Swedes know I mean no disrespect by it), especially when you are like me and don’t have the experience of being such a celebrity. It’s great too that Alfie has grown into a man appreciative of his fans, learning long ago what it felt like to be on the other side.

In 1981, when Daniel was nine, the world hockey championships came to Gothenburg. Daniel was selected to be one of the kids to carry a flag on the ice.

Recalled Hasse: “One day he said to me, ‘Dad, can I take my autograph book with me?’ and I said yes. He asked (Vladimir) Petrov of the Russian team for an autograph and he pushed Daniel aside. This is something we talked about. I said, ‘If you’re ever a player, don’t be like that.’ “

“It’s a game for the fans and we will do almost anything to win, then we can say we beat Ottawa, we beat an NHL team,” said Indians defenceman Erik Karlsson, the Senators’ top pick in the NHL draft in Ottawa in June. “It’s going to be a memory you’re going to remember for a very, very long time even if it’s an exhibition game. It’s not every day you get to see an NHL team play. It’s going to be a crazy night, I think.”

The Scandinavium arena will be sold out (it holds about 12,000) and will be rocking. Monday night when the Indians beat Rogle in an Elitserien game for their first regulation win in seven tries this season, a drummer kept the crowd clapping and singing throughout the game.

There is no doubt that the Frolunda Indians will do everything they can to win tonight. The game is a rare opportunity for them to prove themselves against an NHL team, and quite possibly the only time that the 12,044 fans in the Scandinavium will get a chance to catch a glimpse of their team playing against their favourite player.
Still, I am sad that we cannot watch the game here. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s no secret that I want to see every Sens game, from pre-season to playoffs. The fact that this missed game is (likely) the only time I will see my team take on a non-NHL team on the bigger ice just makes it worse.

That, and I really would like to see if the 12,044 fans will do as I suspect and make the Bell Centre look tame. I’m sure it would do us Sens fans well to see how nonstop drumming and singing brings the teams - hopefully most notably Alfie - to life. Someone do me a favour, and go buy a drum to bang at Scotiabank, so that you never mistake we fans in the arena for mere spectators, and to see if we can’t tap into the team’s and Alfie’s nostalgia.

“What we’d like is to come up with something so he is a Senator for life,” Melnyk said here on Thursday morning.
He arrived a couple of days ago for tonight’s exhibition game against the Frolunda Indians.
“We have to be realistic about what we can do, and where the economy is headed. We’ll see what happens.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Alfie, like Heatley last year, could begin his first game of the regular season with a contract set up and ready to carry him into the future? No, that’s not likely to happen before Saturday’s game against Pittsburg, or even next Saturday before the Sens host Detroit, but getting Alfredsson the respectable extension he deserves should be the highest priority for Murray, no matter how many pundits rain down about our roster.

Incredibly, I occasionally hear someone, usually on the radio, speak of the merits of trading Alfredsson for a couple of players, cashing him in while his value remains high.

Such blasphemy passes for debate, I suppose.

Here’s why the Senators can’t let that happen, unless Alfredsson himself reaches the point where he believes this team is not close enough to contention, and he wants one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup, à la Raymond Bourque. Or Mats Sundin, Alfredsson’s countryman and fellow J.P. Barry client.

When the Senators joined the NHL in 1992, they longed to have legitimate tradition. Up against the history of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Senators drew a link back to the old Ottawa Senators and Silver Seven from the turn of the 20th century. They retired the No. 8 jersey of Shawville’s Frank Finnigan, a member of the old Senators who died in 1991.

Sixteen years after their opening night of Oct 8, 1992, the Senators are on the verge of their first real bit of modern history—having a franchise player in Alfredsson, a “legacy player” as TSN’s Pierre McGuire termed it.

Is there anyone who would want to see what Alfie could be traded for? Considering the extent to which the League has been dying to get fellow Swede Sundin to play, it should be painfully clear how valuable Alfie is, as if it wasn’t already. From a purely statistical standpoint, Alfie’s past three seasons have yielded 89, 87, and 103 points, while Sundin’s last three have yielded 78, 76, and 78, or if you go based on the performance of Sundin (who is two years older than Alfie) in the three years leading up to his 35th, you still get 78, 75, and 72.

But Alfie is so much more than a number, whether it be on a stats sheet or even hanging from the rafters. It really is important to remember how much he stepped up when this franchise was young, washing away the pain of the two young studs selected in the first rounds (Yashin and Daigle) who were supposed to be the real team heroes. Yet it was the determination of our 6th rounder that helped lead Ottawa to its first playoff series, it’s first playoff win, it’s first appearance in the Finals, and it’s decade-long streak of playoff appearances.

Whenever there was a doubt about the team, Alfie stepped up. Even in game 5 of the Finals, it was Alfie who made sure that the Sens didn’t look completely out of place, certainly giving me moments to cheer from a Toronto bar in my Sens jersey.Without Alfie, the team has looked lost at times, but with him the team has always been a force, and always had hope that he could inspire them to great successes. Today is the ninth anniversary of Alfie taking over the Senators’ captaincy; is there anyone who would deny him an even decade? How about a baker’s dozen? Git-r-done, I respectfully ask of you Mr.‘s Murray and Melnyk, git-r-done.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | SENShobo | Permalink


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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net