With his 1,000th NHL game in the books, Daniel Alfredsson will return to a hero’s welcome Saturday night when the Senators host the Buffalo Sabres. The greatest player in the modern history of the franchise will, as he always does, quietly accept the kudos, then go about his business, the way he has for the past 14 seasons in the NHL.
It has been that consistency that has made Alfredsson the most revered player in franchise history and a shoo-in to have his No. 11 hung from the rafters of Scotiabank Place – or whatever they’re calling it then – when he retires.
But is Alfredsson a Hall of Famer? Now that would be a bit of a stretch, but you could certainly make the case that he is the best right winger Sweden has ever produced.
As far as the Hall of Fame, the only Swedish-born and trained player in there is Borje Salming. Nicklas Lidstrom and Peter Forsberg will certainly follow and while it’s debatable whether he truly had a Hall of Fame career, Mats Sundin will likely get in.
Alfredsson is a cut below those players and barring a late-career push and/or leading the Senators to the Stanley Cup, he will likely not make the grade. But if I’m picking my all-time Swedish all-star team, there’s no doubt Alfredsson is my right winger.
His competition in that category would come largely from Hakan Loob and Anders Hedberg. Markus Naslund is listed as a right winger, but played left wing most of his career and even if he had played the right side, I’d take Alfredsson over him.
So would Gunnar Nordstrom, the NHL writer for Expressen, the biggest daily newspaper in Sweden.
“It would be really hard to not pick Daniel based on his consistency,” Nordstrom said. “(Hedberg and Loob) had great careers, but nobody beats Daniel on the right side.”
Hedberg and Loob both had abbreviated NHL careers and played at a time when there were more biases against and fewer opportunities for Swedish players. Put on equal ground with Alfredsson, it would be interesting to see which one would be the best.
But you can certainly go with Alfredsson on your first team, joined by Henrik Lundqvist in goal, Borje Salming and Lidstrom on defence, Forsberg at centre and Mats Naslund on the left wing.
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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