Why Alfie Will Never Be Traded
A couple of days ago, while engaged in the usual friendly banter of the Hockeybuzz Chatroom, a certain blogger that covers Les Glorieux, came in and confidently proclaimed that Daniel Alfredsson would be traded from Ottawa if the Senators didn't have a successful year. Being the ardent Sens fan that I am, I felt obliged to challenge this brash proclamation.
First and foremost, this blog is meant to be a record that a wager was placed on Mr. Engels’ assertion. Each of us offered to buy the other a two-four of their favourite ale if we were wrong. Mine being Sleeman’s Honey Brown; Eric’s being Keith’s Lager.
The other reason for writing this blog, is to provide perspective on why my antagonists’ foolhardy opinion shall inevitably require him to devise a plan for transporting a two-four of Sleeman’s finest from Montreal to Ottawa.
To Ottawa Senators fans, Daniel Alfredsson holds a special place in our hearts. After 3 years of dismal hockey, the 1995-96 season was a year of change for the Ottawa Senators. Out was GM Randy Sexton and in was Pierre Gauthier; the Sens moved from the undersized Civic Centre to the spectacular Palladium (now know as Scotiabank Place); and Rick Bowness was mercifully relieved of his duties and replaced (after the humourous 25-game misadventures of Dave Allison) by Jacques Martin. The Sens still had a losing record (18-59-5), but hope came from the 5’11” 133rd overall, 6th round pick of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Daniel Alfredsson. In his rookie season, Alfie lead the Sens in scoring with 26 goals and 35 assists. Although the season's overall outcome hadn’t changed, the Sens managed to finish the year by beating the defending Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils 5-2, knocking them out of playoff contention. Alfie’s play made him the first (and to this date the only) Ottawa Senator in modern history, to win a major individual award; the Calder Trophy.
Alfredsson has always been front and centre in all of my memories of what is good about the Ottawa Senators. Whether it was taking the Captaincy in the absense of the AWOL Alexei Yashin, smashing Darcy Tucker into the boards only to take the puck and score the winning goal, mocking Mats Sundin's stick throwing debacle, or leading all players in playoff scoring this past playoffs; Alfie has been there for the Ottawa Senators.
Alfie has created his fair share of controversy, most of it in other teams rinks. I love the fact that our Captain is booed in opposing barns. But prior to this season, being the Captain, he has had to take the heat for Ottawa’s lack of playoff success.
Last summer, I would have grudgingly agreed with Eric Engels’ opinion that Alfie was in danger of being shipped out of town. Ottawa GMs had tried everything they could to find the right chemistry, moving out most of Ottawa’s underachieving “star” players: Daigle, Yashin, Bonk, LaLime, and Hossa. Ottawa had even fired the well-respected Jacques Martin. Alfie was the last scapegoat. But Alfie responded with a tremendous playoff to become a leading candidate for the Conn Smyth trophy. His only obstacle, an Anaheim Ducks squad loaded with two Norris Trophy defensemen and a fast and punishing front twelve. The Senators didn’t lose the Stanley Cup ... they were beat for it, and there is no shame in that. Through this past springs efforts, Daniel quieted all of his hometown critics (there is no way to quiet those in Toronto) and secured himself in the hearts of Ottawa fans.
In his career, Daniel has been almost a point a game player, scoring 758 points in 783 regular season games (80 points in 99 playoff games). He has played in every Ottawa Senators playoff game. His last 3 seasons, he has averaged 87 points and back in the Rod Bryden-days, Alfie renegotiated his deal, taking a pay cut to ease the burden on his cash-strapped team.
Most importantly, in this CAP-era, Alfie has 5 years left on his deal with a cap-hit of only $4.339M. No player (especially one without a no-trade clause) should be considered untouchable, but based on some of the free agent signings this summer, and the forecasted escalation in player salaries, there is no way any sane GM (at least one who wants to keep his job) trades away an 80+ point player that costs barely over $4M.
Eric, I can’t wait to taste that Sleeman’s Honey Brown.