THE WOUND MAY STILL BE A LITTLE FRESH SENS FANS, BUT WHILE MOST OF YOU HAVE DEALT WITH DANIEL ALFREDSSON’S DEPARTURE, THERE ARE STILL SOME HATERS OUT THERE WHO NEED A STRONG DOSE OF TRUTH
It’s been an entire week now Ottawa; how do you feel? You’ve had seven days to accept the fact that Daniel Alfredsson will play the 2013-14 season-likely his last-wearing another team’s jersey. Most Sens fans, though left winded and heartbroken, wished nothing but the best for their former captain, his family and even his new team, the Detroit Red Wings. But there are some Ottawa fans who choked on the bitter pill that was Alfredsson’s departure; behaving like jealous, jilted lovers they swarmed to the internet, their grief spilling across chat rooms and fan forums like so much venom and bile, insulting No. 11 and accusing him of being a traitor (one disgruntled Sens fan took to Twitter, wishing Alfie the best of luck selling his house once it was covered with egg). And those fans, well, you’re the ones here to get bitch slapped. Shall we begin?
I have to be honest; I never thought I’d see Daniel Alfredsson leave the Nations Capital to join another team. I heard the rumours leading up to last Friday’s free agent feeding frenzy, that Alfie (who’d just confirmed he would play one more season the week before), was being courted by other teams (with the Boston Bruins topping the list). But in all honestly, I thought it a game his agent was playing to nudge the value of his final contract up just a little more. And why not? Alfredsson had accepted a hometown discount for a large part of the seventeen seasons he wore a Senators jersey (fourteen of them with the captain’s “C” on his chest), even giving up some paycheques when the team was bankrupt and flirting with relocation. Besides, that’s what agents do, they get the best possible deal for their clients. And the Senators had pretty much made it clear that they were prepared to offer the heart and soul of their franchise a blank cheque to keep him in Ottawa for his final season, so any contractual foreplay seemed a moot point. But there we all were last Friday afternoon, shocked to find out that Daniel Alfredsson had joined the Detroit Red Wings. That enormous crashing sound coming from the Nation’s Capital last Friday wasn’t Bluesfest getting under way or another earthquake shaking Ottawa, it was the collective hearts of the Sens Army breaking.
And as I said, for the most part, Sens fans have been very understanding, and while disappointed and emotionally exhausted, many have wished Alfie all the best with his new team. For his part, Alfredsson said all the right things last Friday, heaping genuine praise on the Ottawa Senators organization and it’s fans. He even offered an olive branch to the angry, unforgiving ones, saying he understood their anger, giving them permission to vent their hatred. He’s a big man, that Daniel Alfredsson. Me? Not so much, and I’m still going to slap the trolls like the bitches they are.
Daniel Alfredsson has nothing to apologize for. His primary reason for signing with the Red Wings was to win a Stanley Cup, it’s what every professional hockey player dreams of. And doesn’t one who’s played in the NHL for seventeen seasons at an elite level deserve that shot? Alfredsson worked tirelessly to realize that dream with the Ottawa Senators, he demonstrated exceptional loyalty to both the team and the city of Ottawa (see my previous point about him playing for free before the Sens were rescued by Eugene Melnyk), investing almost as much time in charitable causes within the community as he invested on the ice in his quest to win the Cup. He’s earned the right to be loyal to himself for a change.
Now here’s the part where you’re going to tell me that Detroit and Ottawa’s chances of winning Lord Stanley’s coveted chalice are the same. Both teams finished seventh in their respective conferences last season and both were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, so abandoning the Senators for the Red Wings makes about as much sense as dumping a bikini model to date a lingerie one. Except the Red Wings were (and remain) stronger contenders for the Cup then the Senators. Yes, Detroit was knocked out in the second round last season-same as the Sens-but they were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks, the eventual Stanley Cup champions. That series went seven games, with the Red Wings staking a 3-1 series lead at one point, and the decisive game seven needed overtime before it was settled. No other team pushed the Blackhawks so close to elimination; not the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings in the third round and not the Stanley Cup finalist Boston Bruins. And if the Red Wings had won that pivotal game seven a few months ago, they could very well have been the ones sipping champagne out of the Stanley Cup when all was said and done. After defeating the highly favoured Montreal Canadiens in the first round, the Senators on the other hand, proceeded to get an education in playoff hockey from Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even Sens coach Paul MacLean joked about Ottawa owing the Pens money for the clinic they put on at the Senators expense. The same Pittsburgh Penguins who would go on to be manhandled by the Boston Bruins in the following round, the same Boston Bruins who were then defeated in six games by the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup final. The simple truth of he matter is that the Red Wings were contenders and the Sens pretenders. Even now, bookies in Vegas are probably giving the Red Wings more favourable odds to win the Cup. And after what we’ve seen Detroit, recognized by most in the business to be the most efficiently run organization in the NHL, do these past few weeks, can you blame them?
It’s a hard fact to face Sens fans, but Alfie has a better chance at hoisting the Cup in Detroit than he does here in Ottawa, And isn’t that what you want for a captain that worked so hard and played so tirelessly for you for the better part of two decades? It isn’t too much to ask, is it? And as for the haters out there, maybe you should direct some of that restless contempt of yours at the Sens organization. There are some rumours that Mr. Melnyk’s pockets are no longer quite as deep as they once were, and the blank cheque Sens management guaranteed fans would convince Alfredsson to remain a Senator may not have existed at all. And if Ottawa did lowball Daniel Alfredsson after all he’s done for them, doesn’t it make poetic sense for him to take his considerable services to one of the best franchises in the NHL?
So good luck Alfie. No hard feelings and all the best for you and your family. If the Sens are smart, they’ll retire your number 11 to the rafters of the Canadian Tire Centre (Dumbest. Name. Ever.) as soon as possible and offer you a job upstairs. The city will embrace you because most of your fans are sensible, reasonable people (well, as much as any sports fan can be). As for all the spiteful trolls out there, just remember, with Detroit moving into the Eastern Conference next season, you’ll still get to see plenty of Danny. And between you and me? Deep down, we both know that when he scores, even if it’s against the Sens, you’ll still be cheering a little.
- Daniel Alfredsson leaves Ottawa Senators, fans jump online to vent (metronews.ca)
- Alfie’s move to Motown has Senators’ fans shocked (thefarmclub.net)