It seems as though every day former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson’s legacy is becoming more tainted in Ottawa. After a week of very public comments back and forth between the player and his former team, Alfredsson was seen at an informal skate wearing a Senators practice jersey. It wasn’t an unusual sight, after all he had worn that logo with pride 17 years, but there’s only one problem.
He’s a Detroit Red Wing.
When word came out on July 5th that the 40-year-old right winger had signed with Detroit, many in the hockey world were stunned, none more than the fans in Ottawa. It was not only thought but generally assumed that Alfredsson would either sign a new contract with the team, or retire as a life-long Sen. The idea of him jumping to another club was, well, unthinkable. Many Sens fans were hurt and left to wonder about what really happened.
Alfredsson said initially that his primary concern was to win his first Stanley Cup and that Detroit would give him the best opportunity for that. Immediately any astute hockey fan knows that explanation doesn’t really hold any water. Sure, Detroit is a classy organization, but they aren’t any closer to the Cup than a number of other teams, including the Senators. However, at a press conference last week, Alfredsson’s true motivations became much clearer.
“When I did my last contract for four years ending in the (2012-13) season, I was asked to help the team manage the salary cap by adding on a extra year to my contract,” he said in an opening statement. “I agreed. Each side fully expected I would retire and not play the 2012-13 season.”
Perhaps that’s a bit of collusion on the part of Alfredsson and the Sens, a fact conveniently overlooked by the NHL. Alfredsson went on to say, “I also asked to look at a possible extension this upcoming season at a fair amount to balance out the two years for both of us. They agreed. ” So basically Alfredsson said that in exchange for a lower, possibly cap circumventing salary in 2013, the Senators would give him some of that money back in 2014. However contract talks went nowhere, Alfredsson felt like he was being low balled by the organization, so he split to greener pastures.
A statement by Senators GM Bryan Murray after the press conference seems to confirm that thought. Murray said that Alfredsson asked for a $7 million, one-year contract or $12 million, two year contract prior to the 2013 draft. He said the team countered with a one-year deal worth $4.5 million which Alfredsson declined and talks dwindled from there.
Murray and Senators owner Eugene Melnyk took the opportunity to pile the blame for the break-down in negotiations upon Alfredsson’s agent, JP Barry. Murray told The Ottawa Sun that he felt Barry wasn’t giving either he or Alfredsson the full details of the negotiation.
Melnyk’s comments were far harsher. “I point the finger squarely on JP Barry, the man who blessed us with the (Dany) Heatley mess.” he said, adding that “If you want to play a blame game – that is where you should be looking.”
For Barry’s part, the long-time agent was diplomatic, as any good agent should be, in his response. “The fact is this was a negotiation concerning impending free agency. We made multiple offers and invited them to negotiate. They provided a number on the weekend prior to July 5 and said this is all they can do due to internal budget restrictions. It wasn’t a market offer in our estimation. They wanted Daniel to take a below market deal again after he had done the same several times previously and we didn’t feel that was appropriate.”
Oh boy, what a mess.
And in the center of it all stands Alfredsson, a man who’s legacy as the unquestionable greatest Sen of all time as been tainted by the events since July 5th. Surely Alfredsson, who has shown nothing but commitment, dedication and love for the fans and the organization would know enough not to wear a Senators jersey again until after all this had died down. Seriously, aren’t practice jerseys pretty cheap? I’m sure with his new $5.5 million contract from the Red Wings that he could easily afford one.
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Main photo credit: Dan4th via photopin cc