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article imageOp-Ed: Alfredsson departure best for Senators

By Derek Abma     Jul 6, 2013 in Sports
Ottawa - Hockey fans in Ottawa are coming to grips with a situation they never saw coming as their hero gets ready to suit up for another team.
The question with Daniel Alfredsson — as it had been for the last couple of seasons — was whether he wanted to keep playing or not. It was never whether the Ottawa Senators were the team he wanted to play for. The situation quickly went from joy over recent indications he would return for another season to shock it would be with the Detroit Red Wings.
The 17-year veteran, longest-serving captain in the league and face of the franchise was gone just like that. It's happened before and it will happen again.
Before the end of this last season, the Calgary Flames parted ways with their marquee player, Jarome Iginla. And who can forget the blockbuster trade that sent Wayne Gretzky out of Edmonton in 1988?
Fortunately for the Senators, Alfredsson's departure has few similarities to the Gretzky trade once you get past the story of a familiar face putting on another team's uniform. Gretzky was 27, had just led the Oilers to their fourth Stanley Cup and was still the league's top player, though Mario Lemieux was nipping at his heels.
Alfredsson is 40. It was eight seasons ago in 2005-06 that he peaked in terms of offensive production, and a year later he led the Senators to the Stanley Cup final, the furthest they would go with Alfredsson at the helm.
According to various reports, such as this one from the Ottawa Citizen, Alfredsson will make US$5.5 million as a Red Wing next season, which is more than five times what he made last season, as noted in the Globe and Mail.
The fact is that Alfredsson is not worth that kind of money anymore.
He was invaluable in helping the Senators reach the playoffs last season as a rash of injuries took out younger stars like Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza. And his leadership and experience showed through as he helped push his team to the second round of the playoffs with others returning from injury at less than 100 per cent.
But this is not the guy who's going to lead Ottawa to a Stanley Cup anymore. In fact, the team was never going to re-enter that category of Cup contender until someone else was allowed to take over. Is Spezza the guy? It's worth finding out. Looking at other candidates, Chris Phillips' playing days are drawing to a close, so giving him the captaincy would not encourage stability. Karlsson, at 23, is still a bit young for that kind of responsibility.
Alfredsson is, by far, the greatest Ottawa Senator of the modern era. His number should be retired. He should be in the Hall of Fame. The Senators should employ him after he retires so that he can continue to be a stellar citizen of the city.
But something to realize about Alfredsson is that he gave up on this team. It showed when he answered a question quite honestly about the Senators' chances of coming back to beat the Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins in these recent playoffs. It showed when he decided that the Red Wings, which had the same number of points as the Senators last season, give him a better shot at winning a Stanley Cup before his career is over than the Senators do.
This isn't to knock his views. A person believes what they believe. The thing is, if you're going to be an atheist, you shouldn't lead the church.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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