In 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 Valley Boy
He likes huntin’ and fishin’. His brother Henric works for the Ottawa Police Service. He has two snowmobiles, even once riding one of them to practice at Scotiabank Place.
By Roy MacGregor
It is often said that certain people were born in the wrong era — they would have fit in better, say, in the Roaring Twenties or Victorian England or maybe all the way back to the Dark Ages.
Rarer is the person who was born in the wrong place.
Take, for example, Valley lad Daniel Alfredsson. His birth certificate says Gothenburg, Sweden, December 11, 1972, but it could just as easily say Carp or Calabogie or Killaloe.
Consider the evidence: He lives on a rural stretch not far from the Ottawa River. His children — there are four of them: Hugo, Loui, Fenix, and William Erik — go, or will go, to public school in Carp. He likes huntin’ and fishin’. His brother Henric works for the Ottawa Police Service. He has two snowmobiles, even once riding one of them to practice at Scotiabank Place.
If you listen closely to his speech — that charming Swedish lilt to his English that he brought with him back in 1995, when he and his wife, Bibi, first arrived in Ottawa — you’ll notice that it’s shifting into Valley speak. He says “G’day” when he runs into people at the rink. He sometimes says “Eh?” for no apparent reason at the end of sentences. “Carp” is becoming “Kare-p.” He drives a “kare.” He once hotly disputed a referee’s call by cursing “Holy ol’ bald-headed … .”
But there’s more. Sure, he may have grown up in Europe, but he was never the hockey star for Frölunda HC that he would become for the Ottawa Senators, where he won the Calder Trophy in his first year as the league’s top rookie. Way back in Sweden, he was even at one time a defenceman known more for his checking than his scoring.
In fact, he was so far off the hockey map in Europe that he wasn’t even drafted until 132 other youngsters had already been taken ahead of him.
The reason? He says it himself: the smaller North American ice surface suits him far better than the endless vistas of the European ice surface. He likes it better over here. He prefers the corners to the open ice, likes the physical contact, and excels at a game where fast thinking is as highly valued as fast skating. Just think: he might have gone first overall back in the 1994 draft if only he’d been put up on right wing and played on the rink in Palmer Rapids or Barry’s Bay.
Clearly, he was underestimated — a late bloomer.
Typical of the Valley.