The Ottawa Senators have made the long trip to Sweden and have made the most of their time thus far. This has included a table tennis tournament, a padel tourney, and of course, plenty of on-ice practices. Three other teams have joined them in Sweden, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, and Minnesota Wild. The Global Series 2023 is a fantastic way to showcase the game and hockey community. In case you’re wondering, these games are not unusual, as the NHL has played everywhere from Japan to England, and many places in between. Furthermore, Sweden is a welcoming recipient with a long and rich history of hockey in the country.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 15, 2023
Swedish Hockey History
Sweden has been a long-time member of hockey’s elite. They were able to capture their first Olympic medal in ice hockey’s only third appearance at the games. This was thanks to a silver medal at the St. Moritz, Switzerland 1928 Winter Olympics. Moreover, the World Junior team only recently had a truly remarkable streak snapped. In December of 2021, they had their 54-game preliminary round winning streak snapped. That streak had begun 15 years prior. Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t recall the 2006 Olympic representative. To win best-on-best, which has never seen a two-time winner outside of Team Canada, is noteworthy. There was one sole Senator on that squad, who we will discuss later, Daniel Alfredsson. This is no small feat having a team member on a winning squad, considering combined the Wings and Vancouver Canucks had eight players on that roster. Of course, the teams representing the country would not have been so impressive if not for some of the individuals.
Ottawa Senators Players Amongst the All-time Greats from Sweden
When the NHL commemorated its 100th anniversary in 2017, it announced the list of the 100 greatest all-time NHL players. The Scandinavian nation of Sweden proudly produced four of the individuals selected. Those players were Peter Forsberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, the late Borje Salming, and Mats Sundin. Two members of the Senators alumni who weren’t selected included Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson. Now, the list would invariably change in the future. For instance, the likes of Connor McDavid had not amassed a sizable enough resume to warrant inclusion. Even though Alfredsson would not qualify for future distinctions given the omission, Karlsson very well may.
Erik Karlsson’s Legacy Continues to Grow
The Ottawa Senators fan base did witness one of the greatest defencemen Sweden ever produced in Erik Karlsson. While playing for Ottawa, Karlsson had 82 points in 2015-16, the record for single-season points by a defenceman in club history. Additionally, he won the Norris twice as a Senator (2012, 2015). He has since added a third Norris, when he tallied 101 points last year. This marked the first time a defenceman scored 100 points since Brian Leetch accomplished the feat with 102 in 1991-92 as a New York Ranger. Anyway you slice it, Karlsson’s career PPG of 0.83 has to rank him as one of the top Swedish defenders of all time. He even puts himself in the discussion for future all-time top 100 lists.
The Man, the Myth, the Alfie
When you look at a list of all-time Ottawa Senators players, even including Karlsson, it is difficult not to top the list with Alfredsson. The difference? ‘Alfie’ spent all but one, and all of his most productive seasons, as a member of the Sens. A global ambassador for Sweden to Canada’s national capital city. The Senators fairly new owner Michael Andlauer brought Alfredsson on as a coach on the development side. Essentially, he is there to mentor young and old players alike. There’s not much hockey-related that Alfie can’t speak to. He knows the city of Ottawa, having played there from 1995 until 2013. Furthermore, he played on successful teams, compiling 124 career playoff games, and seemed to age like a fine wine. His only two career 40-goal campaigns came after the age of 33.
It is impossible to deny the fact that the country of Sweden has long had a stamp on the Ottawa Senators franchise. Even skip ahead to their current roster in Sweden, with three Swedish countrymen on board. The likes of Erik Brannstrom, Jacob Larsson, and Anton Forsberg are carrying their country’s Tre Krona. Just today, it was announced that Alfredsson will have a more visible role behind the bench for the Sens in these two games. Shifting focus, and the importance of these two games in the standings.
The Importance of the Games in Sweden for the Ottawa Senators
At least three of the four teams here in Stockholm aren’t playing to expectations early on. The one exception is Detroit, who have cooled after a smoking hot start. Ottawa continues to be without the assistant captain on the backend, Thomas Chabot. However, there is no room for excuses, as they need points in the bag. As a matter of fact, Head Coach D.J. Smith’s job very well may be contingent on it. At 6-7-0, the Sens currently find themselves eighth in the hotly contested Atlantic Division. Maybe the prestige of lacing up at the spectacle that is the Avicii Arena in Stockholm will bump this team up.
Main photo: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports