Kukla's Korner


To be or not to, Alfie, and ASG pitfalls

The longstanding (how-soon-ending?) career of Alfredsson, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen, a hesitant endorsement of a possible All-Star Game,

“This would be fantastic for our city,” [vice-chair of the city’s corporate services committee] Desroches said Tuesday. “It helps with our work to brand Ottawa on an international stage. It helps hotels, it helps restaurants, it helps the taxi industry and it will go a long way to supporting the Ottawa Senators, who have to compete with a lot of bigger-market teams.”
The NHL All-Star Game is not without its critics, however. Many fans dismiss the weekend, which includes a skills competition and YoungStars game, because the on-ice product bears little resemblance to the more competitive games during the regular season and playoffs. All-star games are typically goaltenders’ nightmares, featuring plenty of goals, but little defence and hitting because players don’t want to risk injuring themselves.

Others suggest the weekend is simply a showcase for the league’s corporate sponsors to promote themselves and it’s often difficult for average fans to gain access. When the Carolina Hurricanes play host to the game in January, for instance, all tickets ($180 for the lower level, $135 for the upper bowl to the all-star game and $260 and $200 for full weekend packages) are expected to be held by either Hurricanes season- ticket holders and the NHL.

The same old questions from Montreal, and only aggravated by Ottawa’s arrangements will they be.

While the Winter Classic may indeed be taking more of the sponsor spotlight, the larger gathering of star players and greater opportunity to showcase through exhibits and multiple on-ice events still gives currency to the All-Star weekend. For all the high costs of the event in Montreal, the stands were packed for not only the skills competition and game, but even for the informal practices. In a city like Ottawa, however, it will not be as simple as perusing the displays, making a quick deal with a scalper steps away, and strolling in to see the top players warming up for the show. Once again, Ottawa’s island of an arena will only hurt the presentation.

As for the motivation, perhaps looking to the AHL’s format might not be such a bad idea. Pit Canadian or North American players against the world to put a hint of pride on the line, utterly uncaptured in the current East vs. West setup. Then put some charity donation on the line (sponsor-tied?), or else the ability to help choose a marquee event: give the players a possible setting for one of the Premiere season-openers, a few Euro destinations alongside a few from non-NHL Canadian or North American (format dependent) cities, with the winning team or its MVP playing a role in bringing a couple real NHL games to the destination.

Then again, that might just be a little too progressive, and giving the players a bit too much say in League’s dealings.

From the Ottawa Senators, on Alfredsson’s readiness for the upcoming season,

“I’m ready now,” a beaming Alfredsson said earlier [Tuesday] when asked if he’s ready to take on the rigours of another National Hockey League season in the wake of off-season surgery to repair a sports hernia injury. “It’s fun to be back out on the ice with the guys.”

Alfredsson hit the ice today with a number of his teammates at the Bell Sensplex, his first scrimmage since returning late last week from summer vacation with his family in Sweden. But he’s seen plenty of ice back home already.

“I’ve been skating for almost four weeks now,” said Alfredsson, 37, who’s about to embark into his 15th NHL campaign with the Senators. “I usually don’t go on the ice until the end of August. But because of the surgery, I wanted to see how it felt, make sure I start slowly and don’t push it too much right away. I probably went on the ice 2-1/2 weeks earlier than I normally do. It feels like it was a good decision because I’ve been feeling really good.”

Considering the sports hernia surgery Alfredsson required, that sounds promising, right? Or maybe not fully?

From Erin Nicks’ twitter, an alternate reality for Sens fans,

When is it time to start talking about the Alfredsson retirement tour? My sources say now. #Sens

And yes, I know that seems vague - here’s the gist: Alfie has allegedly been telling close friends that this will be his last season. #Sens

FYI: I’m well-aware of Alfredsson’s current contract. Please don’t shoot the messenger. Keep in mind that Alfie has been battling thru… ...injuries. That said, there’s nothing saying that he could change his mind multiple times before coming to a final decision.

I’ve had this information for a while now. But I’m not going back to traditional media anytime soon, and Sens fans have little to discuss… ...so here we are.

How can beginning a discussion about Alfredsson’s potential retirement be interpreted as a criticism of the #Sens? Jesus tapdancing Christ.

As I said yesterday, irreverence does not discount my faith in someone who has proven not to be a yanker of my chain, and being jaded can go hand-in-hand with being in both the Senators fan as well as media realm. As much as it pales in comparison to a Pronger, Luongo, or Kovalchuk deal, the fact that after this current $7 million season Alfie will earn $4.5 million and then just $1 million (nhlnumbers) does make one a bit uneasy.

So what of this? Thankfully, some deft use of a phone interview with the captain on Team 1200 this morning got a few answers out of Alfredsson.

On the simpler matters, Alfredsson said that he did not feel that the media making a whipping boy of Spezza affected the team to any real degree. He expects a good season from Regin as well as Foligno, and is excited to see Karlsson and Gonchar make the Senators a much more mobile, puck-possession team (who didn’t prefer the run-and-gun years to the stauncher ones just a few seasons back?). Karlsson has been given the boot from the Alfredsson home, despite the children’s fondness for him, Alfredsson prefers the variety of opponents of the current division setup compared to the eight divisional matchups setup and previous incarnations, and felt that the World Hockey Summit was informative, well run, and with great opinions, but that the discussions would need to lead to something for it to really matter. He also admits a preference for the smaller NHL-sized ice over the international rinks, admitting that he doesn’t feel he has the same high-end skill to take advantage of the larger sheet, and half-joking that it may also be because he’s a bit old and a bit lazy and doesn’t like to skate as much.

Asked about more pressing points, such as his sports hernia, Alfredsson admitted that about two weeks after the Olympics he started to become affected by it, and the pain medication he was forced to take to deal with it. That would put him at 3-14—17 and +4in 13GP (1.31Pts/GP) after that point, compared with 17-37—54 and +4 in 67GP (0.81Pts/GP) prior to it (from NHL.com). Not bad for fighting through the pain. Having skated since the surgery, he also said that while he is still aware that he had a sports hernia, he does not feel affected by it.

Asked more pointedly (and yet still gracefully) about his career-winding-down plans, Alfie admitted that it is a mix of his sentiment a year ago that he felt he still had three to four more seasons in him, along with a yearly re-evaluation. When finally put on the spot, as audio suggested that he was passing cars on the highway, Alfredsson agreed that he would like to be able to say to fans at the start of his final season that it would be his final season, because of his connection to them, and because it would make that season more special. But, he cautioned, you aren’t always afforded that option. At the end of a season, if he feels like it’s not worth it any more, it might just be time to hang up his skates for the last time.

Maybe that’s just covering his bases. Maybe that’s the difference between a team where Kovalev, Ruutu, Shannon, Phillips, Campoli, Elliott, and Leclaire feel the motivation to earn their next deals, where Gonchar feels he signed with Ottawa to bring them a Stanley Cup run, and a team where players are cashed out for an early-2000s Washington Capitals style futures buildup.

Maybe it’s just an inevitable eventuality that we have to always be ready for.

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


Leo_Racicot's avatar

The NHL should grow a pair of balls and drop this waste of a weekend that is based around a silly popularity contest.

Give the players a few days break at the midseason and then let them get back to work.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 09/08/10 at 01:32 PM ET


I never see the big deal about the All-star game. They take a weekend off that is not really too taxing for the players involved. So it isn’t a real hockey game, the kids seem to enjoy it and the corporations get to spend their money being fanboys and it helps generate more revenue for the league/players. I don’t care to watch it, but my little kids do. Just becasue it is an event that doesn’t cater to the hockey purist doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. I look at the All-star game the same way I look at people that get all worked up over fantasy hockey, it isn’t real, but someone else enjoying it doesn’t affect me in the slightest.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/08/10 at 02:16 PM ET

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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