The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/12/13 at 11:32 PM ET
I think that my and other folks' reactions to a wrinklethat transpired regarding Daniel Alfredsson's first official day as a Red Wing may have summarized why Daniel Alfredsson chose to join Detroit, other than the whole wanting to win the Stanley Cup thing:
TSN and the Toronto Sun sent people here just to cover Daniel Alfredsson? All this way?
TSN's Matthew Scianitti and a camera crew were at Centre Ice Arena to shoot a nearly 4-minute-long feature about Alfredsson's first day as a Red Wing, a 46-second note about Alfredsson's number and the reason he's surrendering #11 to, well, #11...
“When you look at a guy in his upper 30s who’s been in the same spot for 17, 18 years, I don’t think you are really planning on free agency that the player is going to hit the open market,” Holland said on Thursday. “I can’t make a comment on why he hit the open market. My expectation was that he was going to stay in Ottawa.”
But on July 3, 48 hours prior to the opening of free agency, Holland was chatting with agent J.P. Barry when Alfredsson’s name unexpectedly came up.
“J.P. told me that, for the first time in Alfie’s career, he would consider moving and that we were one of the teams on his list,” Holland recalled. “I asked J.P. if he could set up a conversation with Alfie between Mike Babcock and me on July 4.”
The next day, as Americans celebrated their country’s birthday, Holland and Babcock made their pitch. They told Alfredsson they were gunning for a Stanley Cup. They sold him on what a great market Hockeytown was. Holland explained what great schools and youth hockey programs there were for Alfredsson’s four sons in suburbs such as Livonia, Birmingham and Northfield, where many Wings officials and players reside. And they stressed what a rich history the Red Wings franchise has enjoyed. Alfredsson bought what the Wings were selling. On July 5, he shocked the hockey world by inking a one-year, $5.5 million US deal with Detroit.
On Thursday, sitting in the team’s management box at the Centre Ice complex, Holland watched Alfredsson participate in his first official on-ice workout as a Red Wing. And even though he has brought in big name free agents such as Marian Hossa, Brett Hull, Curtis Joseph and Dominik Hasek over the years, Holland said the novelty of watching a star acquisition such as Alfredsson in Detroit red never gets old.
“To see them in your uniform playing for your team after you’ve played against them for so long, without a doubt it’s exciting,” Holland said. Certainly, it was pretty neat to see him in a Red Wings uniform today and it’s going to be a tremendous year.”
He spoke with Alfredsson about the Senators' captaincy and surrendering #11 to Daniel Cleary...
"I’ve looked at some numbers,” he said. “There are quite a few that aren’t available anymore. I wore 24 in Sweden when I joined the Elite League from ’92-95, so that’s probably the number I’ll go with. I think it would be kind of neat to leave 11 for Ottawa.”
And with it goes the legacy with that number. Even if you disagree with Alfredsson’s decision to bolt the Sens for Motown, there can be no arguing that his legacy in Ottawa will be remembered for years to come.
That’s right. His “legacy.” Like him or not, when you review his body of work and consider he was the face of the Sens franchise for so many years, “legacy” is the perfect description....
His divorce from the Sens simply is still too fresh. One day, however, his No. 11 deserves to be dangling from the rafters of the Canadian Tire Centre. And on the day it happens, it will be “neat,” to use one of Alfredsson’s own words.
That’s in the distant future, of course. Short term, his primary objective is to find some chemistry with new linemates Stephen Weiss and Johan Franzen. In his first scrimmage as a Red Wing, Alfredsson’s white team was thumped 4-0 by a red team led by stars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
“Obviously, (Alfredsson and Weiss) haven’t been here and we have to get them up to speed,” coach Mke Babcock said. “They got lit up today by 40 and 13. That never hurts anybody.”
“I think (our line) was OK,” Alfredsson said. “It’s hard. Three guys who haven’t played with each other at all. We talked quite a bit and I’m sure we’ll get better and better.”
And Zeisberger asked Stephen Weiss, who was born in Tornoto and raised in Markham, but has "local" roots as well as he played for the Plymouth Whalers, what Weiss thought about Alfredsson when Weiss grew up as a Leafs fan:
“I wouldn’t say he was my favourite player growing up,” Weiss said. “But I definitely respected him and that’s the main thing. I’ve played against him for a while now and see how hard he works and what a great leader he is. All that other stuff is out the window. But, certainly, when he was playing against the Leafs in those playoff series, I might have thrown out a few boos for sure.”
With no disrespect to the assembly line of wingers he played with in Florida, Weiss said being on a line with Alfredsson and Johan Franzen is special.
“It was awesome,” he said. “The Mule’s a big strong guy and Daniel’s been around forever. His intelligence is amazing.”
Having missed a good chunk of last season with a wrist injury, Weiss and his linemates looked rusty in a 4-0 scrimmage loss to a team led by stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
“It’s not going to take long (for us to gel),” Weiss said. “As the scrimmage went on, we got a little more comfortable with each other. The longer you stay together, the more the chemistry comes.”
It's really intriguing to see the kind of reception Alfredsson's receiving--and the TSN crew and Zeisberger have been very friendly--but it's very evident that Alfredsson would like things to hurry up and get to the one thing they haven't been since late June, and may not be for at least another month: "to normal," because he hasn't been back there in a while.
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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.