Thursday, November 3, 2011

Alfredsson An Ottawa Institution

In glitzy Ottawa, a town so full of excitement it makes Paris, France look like Cornwall, Ontario, it’s easy to take Daniel Alfredsson for granted. Captain of the Senators since 1999, Alfie is a bit like the Parliament Buildings – always there through rain and snow – but sometimes falling apart on us.

Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. When the Parliament Buildings start to crumble, they throw up scaffolding and go to work for years. Alfie goes under the knife, tapes an aspirin to the bruise, and is usually good to go in the morning, or in about half the time it takes other athletes to recover. That’s the way he’s been throughout his career but he has fans worried with some of his recent injuries. He got over the bad back but now he’s out with a concussion and many fans are starting to prepare themselves for life without the captain in the future. With any luck, that might be a few seasons away, but we can all see the slow train coming up around the bend.

Alfredsson has 1030 points in 1066 games as a Senator.

Just how lucky are Ottawa fans to have had a player of this caliber donning the red and black since 1995?

Consider this: There are 7 NHL organizations, all of which started operations either before or during the Senators inaugural season of 1992-93, that have not had a player score 1000 points in their uniform. You may be surprised to see which high profile teams are on this list.

New Jersey Devils
Formed: 1974 (as Kansas City Scouts)
Points Leader: Patrick Elias – 825 points

Phoenix Coyotes
Formed: 1979 (as Winnipeg Jets)
Points Leader: Dale Hawerchuk – 929 points

San Jose Sharks
Formed: 1991
Points Leader: Patrick Marleau – 774 points

Tampa Bay Lightning
Formed: 1992
Points Leader: Vincent Lecavalier – 802 points

Toronto Maple Leafs
Formed: 1917 (as Toronto Arenas)
Points Leader: Mats Sundin – 987 points

Vancouver Canucks
Formed: 1970
Points Leader: Markus Naslund – 756 points

Washington Capitals
Formed: 1974
Points Leader: Peter Bondra – 825 points

In addition to the 1000 point threshold, the Ottawa Senators will welcome another lifelong player to the 1000 games played list this season as long as Chris Phillips stays healthy. Using the same 1992-93 cut off, four teams who started before the Senators don’t have a single player in franchise history to hit four digits in games.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Formed: 1967
Games Played Leader: Mario Lemieux – 915 games

St. Louis Blues
Formed: 1967
Games Played Leader: Bernie Federko – 927 games

Tampa Bay Lightning
Formed: 1992
Games Played Leader: Vincent Lecavalier – 946 games

Washington Capitals
Formed: 1974
Games Played Leader: Calle Johansson – 983 games

Numbers are numbers. You can attach any kind of significance to them you want. So what if Lemieux didn’t play 1000 games for the Penguins. That team wouldn’t be worth a capful of racoon shit if he hadn’t single-handedly filled the seats at Mellon Arena year after year.

What really matters is that a fan base has someone to identify with. They want a guy they can point to and say “that’s what Senators hockey is all about”, or Red Wings hockey or Flyers hockey. Mats Sundin may lead the Toronto Maple Leafs in a lot of statistical categories but most fans still hold guys like Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour in higher esteem, if not in their heads, then certainly in their hearts.

And that’s what it’s all about anyways. Numbers are a fun distraction, but they’ll never be able to tell you about character and personality.

Luckily for Ottawa, Alfie’s got that in spades and the numbers to boot.


phil said...

you can never have enough posts about how awesome alfie is.

Peter Raaymakers said...

Those are really some amazing numbers. I knew it was pretty impressive to have a guy with over 1,000 games in a Sens uniform, and another guy who's not far removed, but it's especially interesting considering teams like Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Washington haven't done it once.

Let's re-visit this once Phillips hits the 1,000 games threshold (don't want to jinx anything by counting chickens before they hatch) and see how many teams are lucky enough to have had two 1,000-game players.

Anonymous said...

You have to take 1,000 games (or time spent) in this town with a grain of salt (I'll get to this later) but Alfredsson has stuck with it through thick and thin and that's great.

As to the grain of salt, Ottawa is a city that just doesn't rock the boat and that suffers change very poorly. Phillips is going to play one thousand games here. So will Neil. So will probably Spezza, then Foligno, then...see where I'm going here?

The Senators are like that government job where you can come in day in day out an not worry about the job because the media coddle you, the fanbase is extreemly accepting (to a faul at times) and management is super comfortable and has lower expectations.

It's fantastic Alfie has played 1,000 games here but I have a feeling if he was playing in Montreal or New York Rangers or Philly, he might not have. Think of that what you will.