It's the question everyone is asking in Ottawa. A sub-headline in the Citizen posed "How did it come to this?"
This excellent Nick Cotsonika column is the best effort I've seen to make sense of the last week, and a negotiation that was left to linger for too long.
But at the risk of engaging in some armchair psychoanalysis, I think Alfie's infamous "Probably not." exchange is at least a little telling here, specifically what followed after:
"I mean with their depth and power-play right now, it doesn't look too good."
Ottawa lost games 5 and 6 to Pittsburgh by a combined score of 13-5. Oh, there were highlight reel goals from Crosby, Letang, a James Neal hat-trick. MacLean would call it a "clinic".
Days earlier Alfredsson had confided to his teammates after closing out the Habs in five games, that it was "one of the sweetest moments of his career". The first Sens playoff series win in six years, the organization had taken a step.
And one could easily see how bowing out to the Penguins in such uncompetitive fashion would snuff out that euphoria he felt leaving Montreal. As much as it was a step, the team was still far from STANLEY CUP CONTENDER, outgunned and run off the ice by a powerhouse.
Maybe Alfie didn't want to be pesky at this stage in his career – I"m 40, why should I be playing on an underdog? kinda thing. Put more bluntly – why are the Phoenix Coyotes spending more than us?
The foreshadowing was right there on Thursday, when a still confident Murray relayed the gist of a conversation:
"Alfie and I talked about three days before he went to Sweden. We talked about the ability to add to our team going forward and whether we're going to be better this year."
Whatever you think about the current state of the Detroit Red Wings (I'm lukewarm personally), Mike Illitch is committed to winning.
The captain wasn't seeing that same commitment in Ottawa, or at least didn't believe he'd see it soon. Coupled with possibly being ticked at an initial lowball offer and you have the recipe for God to leave town.
Graeme penned the player section of the Sens Essentials last year, doing well to capture the prevailing fan perspective:
"And he hasn't just given back to the community; he also has given back to the organization as well. From the team friendly contracts to him deferring a portion of his salary to help ease the team's financial burden during its bankruptcy scare in 2003, his actions have been selfless. Even when the Sens struggled to regroup following their deep run in 2007, he could have gone the Ray Bourque route and requested a trade to a Stanley Cup contender. We wouldn't have blamed him if he had, but for some reason, he never did.
That's just Alfie."
The narrative is more complicated now. He's still Alfie, just maybe not the total company man we had assumed.