Daniel Alfredsson turns 41 next week and though he gained some detractors the past six months, most hockey fans and players will wish him a very happy birthday.
Alfredsson is one of the most well-liked and respected players in the game today. Now in his 18th season, he’s enjoying a career rebirth of sorts with the Detroit Red Wings. He’s producing at near a point-per-game pace despite his time on ice (17:22 average) being at a career low. He received a video tribute and cheers of ‘Alfie’ when he returned this past Sunday to Ottawa where he spent his first 17 NHL seasons, the final 14 of them as Senators captain.
He’s playing as though he could make it through a few more seasons before Father Time catches up with him. Statistically, Alfredsson would have to remain productive for a couple more seasons to be considered a sure bet for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
With 433 goals and 1,129 points in 1,201 NHL games, Alfie has the numbers to warrant Hall consideration. He recently passed Hall of Famers Darryl Sittler, Joe Nieuwendyk and Mike Bossy in points and now ranks 53rd all-time, just behind Bernie Federko, another Hall of Famer.
Alfredsson ranks 55th in assist and 66th in goals. A lot of retired players with more career goals and assists are not in the Hall of Fame. Some of them are Vincent Damphousse, Bernie Nicholls, Jeremy Roenick, Phil Housley, Pierre Turgeon, Dave Andreychuk, Doug Weight, Alexander Mogilny, Rick Middleton, Theoren Fleury.
Alfredsson really is in bubble territory.
In terms of individual awards and team accomplishments, Alfie isn’t well decorated from an NHL perspective. He won the Calder Trophy in 1995-96 and was an NHL all-star just once (second team in 2005-06). He hasn’t won a Stanley Cup (so far), but he was the driving force behind the Senators making the final in 2006-07, losing to Anaheim.
But what Alfredsson does have working in his favor is an Olympic gold medal and almost 100 games played at the Olympic, World Cup and World Championship tournaments. That compares favorably to countryman Mats Sundin, who made the Hall of Fame on his first attempt in 2012. And Alfie is still active and hoping for more.
Perhaps the best thing Alfredsson has working in his favor in terms of Hall of Fame viability is the fact he is a solid citizen and highly respected. He won the King Clancy Memorial Award in 2011-12 and the Mark Messier Leadership award last season, but those don’t carry the clout of the main NHL awards.
Sundin was considered a dark horse candidate on the first ballot last year, largely because he didn’t win any major NHL awards nor a Stanley Cup. The same can be said to a varying degree for Alfredsson. And the truth is, Sundin’s stats dwarf those of Alfie’s: 564 to 433 in goals and 1,349 to 1,129 in points.
That alone would make Alfredsson a long shot for the Hall. But with so many intangible traits working in Alfie’s favor, he will get serious consideration from the Hall of Fame’s 18-member selection committee. The panel just loves solid citizens. He’d need 14 favorable votes to make it – three years after retiring.
I don’t think Alfredsson gets in on the first attempt. But I do think one day the Hall will say it likes the cut of his jib.
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This is the second in a series of Hall Monitor blogs. The first was on Martin St-Louis.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN