Profiles

COUNTDOWN TO THE RETURN OF ALFIE (Dec. 1): 11 essays on #11 (#3 — Daniel Alfredsson as unbrand)

AlfieCover_300-235x320In April 2013, Ottawa Magazine honoured the captain with the “Alfie Pack,” deconstructing the Senators’ icon with 11 essays on No. 11. By July, he was a Detroit Red Wing.

On December 1, Alfie and the Red Wings visit The Canadian Tire Centre for the first time since the deal was done. In the lead-up to the big event, Ottawa Magazine revisits our 11 essays — one essay per day for 11 days. (Want a copy? Back issues for sale here.)

 

Turning It up to 11: Alfie as Unbrand

If a brand is an assiduously assembled and persistently polished construct intended to convey a carefully circumscribed image of something or someone, Daniel Alfredsson is the furthest thing from a brand.

By David McDonald

fjfjfjfjfjfjfjff
Branding exercise: Daniel Alfredsson is shown promoting Nike SPARQ Training. Photography by Finn O’Hara

Inevitably, someone suggests looking at Alfie as a brand. (Because, as a cyber-age Duddy Kravitz might have said, “A man without brand is nothing.”)

But if a brand is an assiduously assembled and persistently polished construct intended to convey a carefully circumscribed image of something or someone, Daniel Alfredsson is the furthest thing from a brand.

He is, in fact, as uncalculated and unkempt as the results of one of his frequent forays into facial hair or his periodic estrangements from his barber.

He’s a straight shooter both on and off the ice, constitutionally incapable, it would seem, of engaging in the shameless and incessant self-promotion a brand demands.

The odd time he does choose to reveal something of himself, it’s invariably guileless and unmediated, more bland than brand. Like the time he volunteered to judge an oatmeal contest on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning — simply because he likes oatmeal.

Brands don’t do public radio. Brands — unless, of course, you’re Wilford Brimley — don’t do oatmeal, especially not the plain old no-name gruel without the big, fat endorsement cheque attached.

Still, after almost two decades spent willingly — happily, even — in Ottawa, Alfie has come to embody what this Rodney Dangerfield of Canadian cities — more often invoked as a pejorative than a destination — likes to think of itself. The rest of the country may diss us as a robotic army of bloodless bureaucrats. But deep down, we know different. And our loyal and unpretentious captain is testament to the passion that lurks beneath the unassuming exterior.

Sure, like practically everyone else in Ottawa, he’s a 40-year-old suburban hockey dad, one you can easily imagine piling the kids into the minivan on Saturday morning and driving them to the rink, then on Saturday afternoon down on his knees with an Allen key (albeit a gold-plated one), struggling to assemble a Billy bookcase. Just like the rest of us — except he’ll be spending Saturday evening careening up and down the ice at Scotiabank Place like the Energizer Bunny on a mission, and we’ll be spending Saturday evening urging him on — or, if some fifth columnist from Leaf Nation, trying to flatten him sonically. Each time he touches the puck, he’ll generate a buzz or a boo — or both. Not too many quiet-spoken, 40-year-old suburban hockey dads have that kind of mojo. And it’s oatmeal to our ears.