Obviously, any Senators fan already knows this. He is the quintessential Mr. Senator, and has been for years; since Alexei Yashin ruined his reputation by holding out in 1999-2000, and maybe even long before that point.
He's not only an all-star for the team, but for the whole league. I want to mention some of the awards he's won or been nominated for:
- Won Calder Trophy in 1995-96
- Fourth in voting for the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2005-06
- Fourth in voting for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2005-06
- Second in voting for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2003-04
And this year he's on pace for 119 points (which are Art Ross numbers, Sidney Crosby got 120 points last year), 55 goals (Vincent Lecavalier won the Maurice Richard with 52 goals last year), plus he's an early pick for the Hart Trophy and maybe the Lester B. Pearson. I'm not trying to overstate things, I realize it's only 9 games into the Sens season, but I just want to illustrate how Alfredsson is getting better with age. As you can see in the two charts provided (in blue and yellow in honour of his Swedish homeland), a minor dip last year may certainly be countered with a significant jump this season.
Speaking of Sweden, a lot of Alfie's successes have come on the international stage, too; silver (1995) and bronze (1999) in the World Junior Championships, silver (2004) and bronze (2001) in the World Championships, and gold (2006) in the Olympics where he was an alternate captain. Plus he won the Elitserien Championship with Frolunda during the lockout season of 2004-05.
A lot of people have been suggesting that his Olympic gold and Elitserien title have taught Alfredsson more of what it takes to win, and that seems to show in his post-lockout leadership. Not to suggest that Alfredsson wasn't a great leader before, but making it to the Eastern Conference Championships in 2005-06 and then the Stanley Cup Championships in 2006-07 show he's become even stronger, especially at times when he seemed to will the Senators to win.
Take, for instance, the Game Five win over Buffalo in the 2007 ECFs. Going into overtime, Alfredsson decided that it was time he became the first European captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup Finals, and made it happen. Or think back to Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals, as every fan in attendance started a chant of "AL-FIE! AL-FIE! AL-FIE!" and the captain responded, getting the Sens started on their way to their only victory in the SCFs. Even in Game Five of the SCFs, despite the fact that the Sens lost, it wasn't for lack of effort from Alfredsson. Especially when he saw how dejected Chris Phillips looked after scoring on his own net, Alfredsson made a goal happen to lessen the distress--one of his two on the night.
And Alfredsson doesn't seem to have lost anything over the off-season. The way he's played in the nine games so far, this should be the best campaign yet, and I can't wait to see what that will mean for his leadership and for the Senators' success. It will definitely be fun to watch, though.