NEW YORK, N.Y. – Daniel Alfredsson has the Red Wings in a holding pattern as he waits to decide whether to play a 19th NHL season and second in Detroit.
But the teammates who have been skating with him this month have been trying “every day” to convince him to come back, Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall said.
“Alfie’s a guy that I think it’s hard to replace because not only does he bring a tremendous amount of talent on the ice, but he brings lots of leadership,” Kronwall said Monday at the league’s player media tour. “His veteran presence is extremely valuable and I don’t think you can put a price on that. It’d definitely be different without him if that would be the case.”
Alfredsson spent 17 seasons with the Ottawa Senators before signing a one-year deal with the Red Wings on July 5, 2013. Back problems hampered him and have led to this summer of indecision.
General manager Ken Holland said in a text message recently that the team was going to wait until the week of Sept. 15—just before the start of training camp—to see how Alfredsson was feeling. The 41-year-old right-winger was noncommittal when he spoke with reporters in Detroit after an informal skate last week.
Kronwall paused before answering whether he expected Alfredsson to be back.
“It’s hard to know with him, actually,” he said. “We’re trying to get a grip of where he stands, but it’s hard. We’re all hoping, obviously, like everyone else.”
Younger Swedish forward Gustav Nyquist hasn’t talked to Alfredsson about his future but similarly wants him back in the locker-room and on the ice in a Red Wings uniform.
“I think every team in this league would love to have Alfie,” Nyquist said at the player media tour. “He’s a great player and he can really help us. He has a great shot and he can help us on the power play and plays the game like we like to play it, the Red Wings style.”
Pressed on if he’d bet on Alfredsson playing, Nyquist said, “We’ll see.”
Alfredsson had 18 goals and 31 assists in 68 games last season. Health limited him to playing in just three of Detroit’s five playoff games.
Even after a career with the Senators, Alfredsson seemed to fit in well with an established Red Wings core. The longtime Ottawa captain didn’t want to upset the dynamic already in place with captain Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Kronwall and the rest of the group.
“I think everyone just kind of finds his place on the team very quickly,” Kronwall said. “Alfie’s just one of those guys that he just adapts to whatever the situation might be. When things needed to be said, he stood up and got guys’ attention, and he scored some big goals for us.”
During what’s probably a Hall of Fame career, Alfredsson has scored 426 goals and added 682 assists. If he decides to hang up his skates, it could make room for someone with zero goals like 19-year-old Anthony Mantha.
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