The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/29/13 at 08:02 PM ET
The Red Wings have played particularly well over the past three games, Wednesday's 6-1 win over Boston and today's 5-0 win over the Islanders included, but they're going to face a test-and-a-half both on and off the ice as they attempt to snap a two-game losing streak against Daniel Alfredsson's Senators in what is sure to be nothing less than a wild scene both tomorrow and on Sunday (when the Wings play the Senators at 5:30 PM on FSD Plus and TSN).
Chris Osgood accurately described tomorrow's likely media frenzy as "crazy," and between tomorrow's practice, the fact that Alfredsson's family will be in town, the fact that the Senators are going to posit a pre-game video tribute to their former captain and the fact that the Senators' 6-1 and 4-2 wins over Detroit have been nothing less than dismantlings of distracted-looking Wings teams...
Alfredsson spoke with the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch about returning to his home for his first 17 NHL seasons, and the Red Wings' #11 suggested that he's going to have to gird himself for some boos:
"It's so hard. I don't know. I think it will be good," he said. "It's a situation where I was there for so long but then at the same time I now play for another team. There's a conflict. There's no question. How that will play out. I don't know."
Alfredsson is gone but he isn't forgotten. His history, his accomplishments and his legacy are something he left behind when he signed with the Wings as a UFA on July 5. Everybody expected him to end his career in Ottawa. Instead, it came to a halt abruptly.
Surely, after 1,178 games as the heart and soul of the Senators with 426 career goals, 682 assists and 1,108 points, Alfredsson will be welcomed back with open arms. He certainly wasn't in the mood to predict anything and barely wanted to touch the subject when it was broached.
"I have a feeling (the reception) will be (good)," said Alfredsson. "You don't know and I don't know even I felt (it would be good) I would say it anyway. You don't want to ... The fans are going to react the way they feel is appropriate. That's what they always do if they cheer during a game or if they're not happy they're going to boo at times. If you're playing well, they'll be cheering you on. That's their right."
Life for Alfredsson in Detroit isn't a lot different. He drives the boys to school in the suburb of Birmingham where he lives, he takes them to see their friends and, of course, there's hockey practice as well. He misses a lot of aspects of the lifestyle he had in Ottawa. Most of all he just misses his many acquaintances.
"The biggest thing is the people and the friends I got to know through the time I was there. That's what I miss the most," said Alfredsson.
Fortunately, for Alfredsson this won't be a quick in and out for the Wings. He suited up for his 1200th game Friday against the Islanders in Uniondale and then flew to Ottawa immediately after the game. The Wings are on the ice Saturday at the building and that should help Alfredsson.
"It works out great that way," said Alfredsson. "It's a practice day before the game. There won't be a morning skate because it's a 5 p.m. game. The media will be done the day before. There's going to be a lot of emotions going through my head. Deal with that the day before and I think it will be easier to focus on the game on Sunday."
Alfredsson scored two goals and had an assist on Friday, after looking downright distracted in the Wings' win over Boston, so I think that he'll be fine, but his teammates will need to step up their games to break the Senators' hex upon Detroit.
"We were in Detroit (Oct. 12) for a game watching Dan," said Henric, a 34-year-old former Ottawa 67. "Ottawa was on the west coast, playing San Jose, and the game was on the scoreboard and I said, 'Oh, we have to go home and watch Dan play tonight (on TV). But then it was, 'Oh yeah, he's playing for Detroit, not Ottawa,' It's still weird."
On July 5, Alfie's younger brother was on the golf course, at Loch March, when the news came down.
"I knew the day before that he was leaving, but I think it hit me then," he said. "Then it was, 'Oh, my God, this is happening.' People were shocked. Everybody took for granted he'd be back. I never saw him being anywhere else but in Ottawa.
"When he first announced he would play this season, there was no question in my mind he was coming back to play in Ottawa. That was where his mindset was and that was mine, too. Then he called me and said he had spoken to (Red Wings GM) Ken Holland. Still, at that point, I was thinking he would come back to Ottawa. It happened pretty quick. He called me right after he talked to (Senators GM) Bryan (Murray). He said maybe change would be good."
"People ask how it must be so cool to have a brother in the NHL," said Henric. "I say I am proud of what he has accomplished on the ice, but what I look up to most is how he treated every single person in this community. He always took time to take pictures with kids, no matter where he was, no matter what time it was. It goes back to when he was a volunteer at the world championships in Sweden. All the old Russian players were there. He wanted an autograph and they wouldn't take the time to sign. My dad told him never to do something like that, like the Russian players did."
Yep, that's the Daniel Alfredsson we know, love and miss.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.