As we ready our popcorn and PVRs for the debut of 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic, we count down the top 10 characters on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings we’re most excited to get to know better. No. 5: Daniel Alfredsson.
Daniel Alfredsson’s public image has undergone an interesting transformation over the past several months.
After nearly two decades of seemingly unshakable loyalty to Ottawa, he was on the fast track to canonization in the capital until he shocked everyone and signed with the Detroit Red Wings in July. He took a short walk on the heel side, initially assuming blame for the “selfish” move before taking back his comments about the Senators being too far away from Stanley Cup contention in an emotional post-breakup press conference in Ottawa.
Now, Alfie has shifted from leading man with the Sens — captain, spokesman and offensive catalyst — to a supporting role in Motown, just one piece of a Swede-heavy veteran core.
Unsurprisingly after 17 seasons with the same team, it took Alfredsson some time to find his feet in Detroit: he had just one point in his first four games, then went on an eight-point tear in the next four. There’s no doubt that, at 40, his game isn’t what it once was, but he’s on track for 60 points this season, considerably better than two of his last three seasons in Ottawa, suggesting the change of scene has rejuvenated him. He’s also contributed six points on the power play, good enough for fourth on his new team.
Alfredsson is an intriguing personality in that he’s genuinely humble, polite and hardworking — the dictionary definition of “class act” — but he also has a beastly competitive streak that occasionally erupts into less statesmanlike behaviour. Please see: firing a puck at Scott Niedermayer’s head, the vicious murder of a hockey stick and water bottle and admitting his team could “probably not” win three in a row against Pittsburgh last spring. It will be fascinating if the 24/7 cameras can catch a few glimpses of Dark Alfie.
Showcasing Alfredsson’s bond with Swedish teammates like Henrik Zetterberg, who helped draw him to Detroit, would also be a lot of fun — frolicking among the meatball freezers at Ikea, perhaps?
But for Ottawa’s sake, a brief moment of Alfredsson staring into the middle distance with moist eyes while turning over a tourist tchotchke model of Parliament Hill in his trembling hands would be really nice.