Today is the day.
Daniel Alfredsson will make his highly anticipated on-ice return to Ottawa and the stakes could never be higher considering the time of year.
Already the Senators are sixth in the NHL’s wild card standings, nine points behind the Detroit Red Wings and seven points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs. Should the Red Wings win today, it will add a few more miles for the Senators to climb and they simply cannot continue to allow this margin to get any larger.
So enter Alfie stage left…
Playing for the first time since he opted to sign a one-year deal worth $3.5 million (that can escalate to $5.5 million should he meet a few performance-based incentives) with the Red Wings, much of the discussion over the past few months has centered on how the Senators organization and its fans would react in his return.
The atmosphere is going to be electric like a playoff game and it seems like everyone – the players, media and bloggers — is appealing to Sens fans to do the right thing and applaud Alfie.
I’d feel somewhat compelled to do the same and pen some PSA on why the leather lunged faithful shouldn’t boo Alfie in his return, but I’d also like to think that the Sens fans aren’t this stupid.
At the crutch of their argument is that Alfie chased the money and should have remained in Ottawa. But, if he can sustain his 0.86 point per game rate, it will mean that he’ll finish the season with approximately 70 points. Like it or not, he would have been worth every penny of his reported asking price.
Looking back over the years at players who have moved on from this city, the bar for a warm reception has been set pretty low.
After four consecutive playoff series losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jacques Martin was given a rousing ovation. When Wade Redden, a player who was approached by Sens management to see if he’d be open to waiving his NTC before bolting as an UFA anyway, returned with the Rangers, the faithful applauded.
Hell, this city even became indifferent to some of the greatest villains in franchise history like Bryan Berard. So, how will the fans respond?
I hope they respond positively, but even for those of you who feel compelled to boo, please do everyone a favour and stand up at today’s game to do it. That way, you’ll be easier to identify and mock.
And as a reminder to fans, the Senators will be paying homage to the former captain with a video tribute before the game. I joked on Twitter that it could simply be a 4 minute and 49 second video showing Eugene Melnyk holding a boombox playing Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes over his head, but to their credit, the Sens have been able to do some fantastic ones over the years. Mike Fisher’s in particular sticks out for me, so do yourself a favour and ensure that you give yourself plenty of time to get to the rink. It should be a memorable day.
Other News and Notes:
Going to the game or simply feel the need to listen to tunes on this day? No worries, I’ve got you covered with your Daniel Alfredsson Returns Mixtape. Have any requests? I’ll add them to the list.
Here’s a piece that I penned on Alfie from 2010 celebrating his 1,000th game. He’s played in 200 more since that time, but I still feel the same way that I did back then.
Chris Phillips has his own beer, so it was only a matter of time before Erik Karlsson got his own drink too. He has partnered with Bridgehead to create his own blend of coffee named ‘EK65’. A portion of the sales will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.