Former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has been eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame since 2017. With every passing year, it felt like he’d been creeping a little closer to the honour but always fell just a little short. Meanwhile, like litigators, Ottawa hockey fans were forced to annually drag out their “Alfie to the Hall” case files and defend number 11’s Hall-worthiness.
Well, that stops now – forever.
Today, the 2022 selection committee ended all debate when Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chairman Mike Gartner took to the microphone and made the big announcement. Daniel Alfredsson is the first modern-day player who made his name almost entirely as an Ottawa Senator to be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Should this ever have been a debate? Alfredsson’s resume speaks for itself. This year, somehow, it seemed to scream for itself.
- The face of the franchise: best player in Ottawa Senators’ history
- Franchise records for career goals, assists and points
- NHL career stats: 1246 games played, 444 goals, 1157 points (54th all-time)
- Senators’ captain from 1999-2013
- 14 international tournament appearances for Team Sweden
- 5 Olympic appearances: gold and silver medalist
- Biggest goal in Senator history (2007 Eastern Conference winner in overtime)
Like most Sens fans, Alfredsson sounded like he was 50/50 that he’d get in this year. When he received the conference call from Gartner and fellow committee member Lanny McDonald, Alfie was in Sweden and joked that he thought the call was from his insurance company.
There have been other former Senators who made the Hall of Fame like Dominik Hasek or Marion Hossa but they weren’t Senator lifers like Alfie, who played 17 of his 18 seasons in Ottawa and captained the club for 13.
So what was the hold up?
The perception is that playing in a smaller market like Ottawa has always worked against Alfie. Even today, most of the news stories leading up to this afternoon’s announcement featured images of former Vancouver Canuck players. And yes, Daniel and Henrik Sedin both got in, as did Roberto Luongo and women’s Finnish player Riikka Sallinen. But the first name out of Gartner’s mouth today was Alfredsson’s, sparing Sens fans any further stress or suspense.
We’ll never know for sure, of course. But leading up the annual announcement, this was the loudest that Alfredsson’s supporters have ever been. In my former radio life, just for fun, I created a Church of Alfie campaign, demanding that all listeners and believers should, “Praise Alfie!”
Well, that campaign paled in comparison to the power of social media over the past few weeks as fans shared their Alfie love again and again, trying to coax Alfie To The Hall. Even the team itself chimed in with their Hall of Fame support which wasn’t something they’d done before. They had retired Alfie’s number. They had elcomed him back for a special night and a pre-game skate to retire as a Senator. They just didn’t seem keen until now to help make that public Hall of Fame push. We may never know why. But that seems to be in the past now.
These are different times, of course, and the Senators are trending upwards – hard. On Alfredsson’s twitter account today, his latest tweet was a special invitation to Sens fans. “We are hosting an open house for our new padel court May 23rd. Come by and try it out.”
No, Alfie’s never been too active on social media.
But he did speak with Gartner and McDonald, who were excited to give him the good news.
“I can’t tell you how much this means,’ Alfredsson told the two hall of famers. “Not just to me, but to the city of Ottawa as well…I’m truly humbled and honoured.”
With the Ottawa Senators about to celebrate their anniversary, no player represents the fans and the club’s first 30 years better than Alfredsson. Today’s announcement further galvanizes a fan base that’s been starving for good news and better days.
Now they have an improving, entertaining, young team to watch. Now they have a downtown rink that’s back on track. And now Daniel Alfredsson – their favouirte hockey son – is finally getting the Hall of Fame love he deserves.
The black cloud appears to be lifting in Ottawa. A righting of the ship has begun.
By Steve Warne | Faces Magazine