Sens should follow Blue Jays' Halladay example with Alfredsson
I was at the Sens-Red Wings game last week to see my favourite hockey player return to his old stomping grounds, and well, put a stomping on his former team.
Watching him closely, it appeared to me that he has lost a step over the summer. But, even at 40, he still manages to influence the outcome of games. The December 1st game was no different as Daniel Alfredsson registered two points, putting the game away with an empty netter.
The debacle that is the Alfredsson Affair has scarred our city. Not only did it hurt the Senators franchise but it has also hurt Ottawa as well. No longer are we the good and innocent--seeking only to win the most beautiful of awards--the Stanley Cup. Now, we are just like the others. Like our hated rivals the Maple Leafs who threw their captain Davey Keon under the bus not long after he helped them win their last Stanley Cup in 1967.
Have you ever wondered why the Maple Leafs haven't won since 1967? Is it that they have been cursed by their selfish deeds just like the Boston Red Sox, who traded the greatest baseball player of all time, Babe Ruth? It took the Red Sox almost a century before they won the World Series again.
Whatever the reason for these teams' inability to win after committing a 'sporting sin', it hurt their franchise and the psyche of their city because it affected the team's identity as well as the fans perception of their team and of themselves.
Ottawa doesn't need any help losing. Our sporting franchises haven't been very successful, at least not since the 1960-70's. We have difficulty keeping teams in town. Winning back our hockey franchise was the greatest win we've had in my lifetime. So, it was only fitting that someone as pure-hearted as Daniel Alfredsson would become the new Sens longest serving captain. A person who espoused all the traits of a knight in shinny armour. Someone who we could trust to do what he said he would do. A real leader.
But, as fate would have it, our knight in shinning amour is not flawless. He has pride. That pride drove him to play well day in and day out for 17 years, to give 120% of himself at all times, despite injuries and despite the limitations of our small market team. His pride also caused him to become offended--personally injured--when the Senators reneged on a verbal agreement to renew his contract for more money than Senators General Manager Bryan Murray eventually offered him.
This is not something for which I can blame Alfredsson. If it had happened to me, I would have done the same thing. Why? Because in sport there is nothing lower than reneging on a promise to your best player, to the heart and soul of your team, to the glue that keeps everything running in the right direction against overwhelming odds.
Last year's version of the Senators couldn't hold a match to this year's team, at least not on paper. But, on the ice there is no comparison. This year's team struggles at both ends of the ice and in the middle, because it lacks confidence, leadership and soul. It is missing its heart, its captain.
The Senators will never be the same unless ownership and management admit their mistake and apologize to Sens fans and the City by correcting this wrong.
Fortunately, the Sens now have an example to follow. The Toronto Blue Jays' re-signing of long time fan favourite Doc Halladay to a 1-day contract, so he can retire with the team he began his career with, was a class act. While there was less upset over Halladay's departure from Toronto, the Team's desire to bring a former star back into the fold at the end of his career is a great gesture that will serve the Blue Jays well for a long time to come.
The Senators could put the Alfredsson debacle behind them if they can admit their mistake and take action to correct it. A great way to correct this wrong would be to bring Daniel Alfredsson back for a game like the Jays' have done with Halladay. Or even better, for a final playoff run and shot at the Cup in a Senators uniform, before Alfredsson retires.
If the Senators can be the 'bigger man' and bring their fans' hero back into the fold, all will be forgotten. If not, don't expect the Senators to win anytime soon. Our curse has just begun.
Ottawa Senators season ticket holder