Daniel Alfredsson (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Longtime Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson had a special opportunity to say goodbye to Ottawa fans as an active NHLer Thursday night, and he took full advantage of it with a genuine and touching speech.
Senators fans and Daniel Alfredsson himself have been preparing themselves for Thursday's retirement ceremony for the longtime Ottawa captain for weeks, if not longer in their minds as they could see the end was drawing near for him. But the affable star winger, retiring as he's about to turn 42 years old next week, still found himself in tears when the moment finally arrived. And the veteran had to stay focused to make it through his pre-game goodbye speech without breaking down and revealing the depth of his affection and gratefulness for the support he'd been given in his time in Canada's capital city.
After taking part in an early-day press conference in which he signed a ceremonial one-day contract with the team, Alfredsson stepped onto the ice in an Ottawa uniform and took part in the pre-game skate with his former Sens teammates before they took on the New York Islanders at Canadian Tire Centre. Alfredsson, who turns 42 next Thursday, was given the spotlight for a 10-minute ceremony that was as dignified as the classy Swede was during his 18-year NHL career. Here's the full ceremony:
If you don't have time to check out the entire ceremony, here's Alfredsson's brief speech to the crowd. He was typically understated and genuine, two of the qualities that so endeared him to Ottawa fans over the years.
Alfredsson deserves to spend some time with his family, but don't expect to see him away from hockey and from Ottawa for too long. Clearly, the bond between him and the community he served in his skates and in his civilian clothes is too strong for either side to allow it to vanish.