Anyone who has followed Daniel Alfredsson’s NHL career should not be surprised how the Ottawa Senators’ captain returned from missing 11 games with a shoulder injury.
All right, four goals and six points – including a natural hat trick in a win over the Boston Bruins Monday afternoon – now that was a bit of a surprise. But the manner in which Alfredsson made his return to the lineup should have shocked nobody.
Alfredsson certainly didn’t spend his first two games back looking like a player who had just returned from a shoulder ailment. He was hardly timid as he ventured into traffic, went hard to the net and played willingly and along the boards and was rewarded for it with four goals and two assists and two wins for the Senators.
That Alfredsson came back so robustly should have been expected, given his hockey history. Alfredsson has never taken shortcuts, nor has he ever shortchanged his fans or employers. Even elite players take occasional nights off, but when was the last time anyone could say Alfredsson didn’t bring his ‘A’ game to the rink that night? The positive results haven’t always been there for him, but the effort always has.
That’s why in a recent issue, The Hockey News named Alfredsson as its second line right winger on its team of the decade ahead of Jaromir Jagr. When it comes to natural talent and scoring ability, Jagr is without peer, but Alfredsson received the nod over Jagr because of his commitment to the game and to playing sound and unselfish at both ends of the ice.
Not that Alfredsson has been a slouch around the net over the course of his career. In fact, there’s a very good chance he’ll ultimately finish his career as the second-highest Swedish-born scorer in NHL history behind, gulp, Mats Sundin, primarily of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
To be sure, Alfredsson will hit 1,000 points easily. Going into Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Alfredsson had 958 career points with the rest of this season and three more remaining on his contract. Let’s assume Alfredsson will score somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200 more points before he calls it quits. That should certainly be enough to put him ahead of the fading Nicklas Lidstrom, who went into Tuesday night’s action with 1,022, but some 200 behind Sundin’s 1,346 career points.
It fits. Alfredsson will be No. 2 and trying harder.
This article also appeared in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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