One of the worst-kept secrets in the NHL was officially announced on Wednesday, as Daniel Alfredsson was named as a captain for the all-star game to be played in Ottawa next weekend.
Alfredsson, who is currently the longest-serving captain in the NHL, was an easy choice to wear the “C”, given his immense popularity in the nation’s capital.
“Everyone was kind of telling me it was going to happen, but I didn’t know for sure. I guess I was expecting it from all the rumors, but it’s a great honor,” Alfredsson told reporters in San Jose.
The 39-year-old Alfredsson will go head-to-head with one of his former teammates, Zdeno Chara, who was named as the other captain for the all-star game. Alfredsson took some of the drama out of the fantasy draft, by already proclaiming he would select current teammate Erik Karlsson if he has the first pick.
“My first pick – if I get first pick – will be (Erik) Karlsson. I hope Chara doesn’t hear this if he gets first pick,” joked Alfredsson. “My kids would be pretty disappointed if I didn’t pick Erik. And he’s a pretty good player.”
The Senators captain said he studied the all-star game rosters over the weekend in Montreal, once he was pretty sure he would be in charge of selecting one of the teams. Alfredsson also hinted that he might like to take Bruins netminder Tim Thomas with his second pick – assuming Chara doesn’t scoop him up first.
He obviously has an affinity for Swedish-born players, but says he might not take the Sedin twins right away – knowing that Chara might be loathe to select the Canucks forwards, given the bitter rivalry between Vancouver and Boston. “When I found out Chara would be the other captain, I don’t know if I should be smart and wait because I don’t know if he’s going to pick any Canuck players with their history from last year,” said Alfredsson.
He also added that he might be open to taking Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel on his team – despite the fact that Alfredsson’s Senators have a fairly bitter rivalry of their own with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I don’t know. I think the way you play will come before any animosity – I want to win the game too,” said Alfredsson. “So I’ll pick whoever I think gives the most value at a certain pick and go from there.”
Alfredsson says he looks forward to going head-to-head with Chara in the fantasy draft and the all-star game itself. The two were teammates for four seasons in Ottawa, winning a Presidents’ Trophy in 2002-03 and coming within one game of reaching the Stanley Cup final.
“He’s the one guy who I would say is the hardest worker in the league. I saw his development when he came from the Islanders to us and how he developed into a superstar. And then taking it to the next level in Boston as well,” said Alfredsson.
“He’s one of the players I respect the most in the league and I look forward to beating him.”