OTTAWA — Hockey has been a part of Daniel Alfredsson’s life for as long as he can remember and while he enjoyed retirement, the lure of being back in the game was much more enticing.
The Ottawa Senators introduced the former captain Friday as their new senior adviser of hockey operations.
Alfredsson is expected to work closely with general manager Bryan Murray and learn about scouting, contract negotiations, player evaluations and other areas of the organization. The 42-year-old said he’s looking forward to dealing with the players and learning about the business side of the game.
“I’m going to try and be a pest and ask as many questions as I can and learn as much as I can,” he said.
Joining the organization was a relatively easy decision for the former star forward, who spent 17 seasons with the Senators.
“You create ties and any time you go away from Ottawa and you come back you always feel extremely welcome and it’s a great feeling,” said Alfredsson. “That and the connection with the hockey team obviously is why I’m sitting here.”
Senators captain Erik Karlsson, a close friend of Alfredsson’s, said he is extremely excited to have his former teammate join the team and added his experience will prove invaluable to the organization.
“He carries a lot of respect in this arena and in this city,” said Karlsson. “It’s just a familiar face and a comfortable face to have around and hopefully he’s going to bring a lot of calmness and experience and comfort as well.”
With his wife and four sons still living in Detroit, Alfredsson doesn’t expect to work every day as he will be commuting between the cities. But he said that when he’s home, he intends to take an active role in scouting NHL games or watching games at other levels.
Alfredsson and his family will make a decision about whether or not to move following this season.
With Friday’s announcement, it appears that any ill will from Alfredsson’s departure two years ago has concluded.
Alfredsson surprised many hockey observers in the summer of 2013 when he chose to sign with the Detroit Red Wings as an unrestricted free agent, creating a rift with owner Eugene Melnyk many thought would never be bridged. The two mended fences when Alfredsson approached the Senators regarding his retirement and the organization rolled out the red carpet for his exit from the game.
Murray said the 2013 situation was just part of the business side of the game.
“I didn’t think it was that nasty,” said Murray. “I thought it was a player looking for an opportunity and saw something maybe that might have been a little better for the moment in his career to have a chance to win. We didn’t totally agree on the contract at the time, and that happens in hockey, that’s our business.”
Alfredsson said he wasn’t surprised the two sides were able to find common ground this quickly “because of our history together and the people we are as well. We think similarly, the same values and so it’s kind of happened over time and it feels like a natural fit.”
Alfredsson spent time with Murray during the Senators’ playoff run last season and was energized by what he saw. He’s now excited to take an active role in helping the team go for greater heights.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press