After 17 seasons with the Ottawa Senators - 13 as team captain - Daniel Alfredsson officially said goodbye to the only NHL home he's ever played in.
Alfredsson, who was at Ottawa's Royal Health Centre on Thursday to help promote his charitable focus on mental health awareness, also explained his reasons for choosing to sign with the Detroit Red Wings.
"To Ottawa, to the always loyal Sens fans, to the Sens organization - thank you from the bottom of our hearts," said Alfredsson, who was welcomed into the room with cheers from attending fans.
"When I did my last contract for four years ending in the (2012-13) season, I was asked to help the team manage the salary cap by adding on a extra year to my contract," he said in an opening statement. "I agreed. Each side fully expected I would retire and not play the 2012-13 season."
However, after the 2012 season, I told the Sens I wanted to play another season. I also asked to look at a possible extension this upcoming season at a fair amount to balance out the two years for both of us. They agreed. Sadly, the contract negotiations went nowhere. But I played out the season as I had promised and I believe this past season, in my view, was a very special one."
Alfredsson became an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and was free to talk to teams in a limited capacity mandated by the NHL. "In late June this year, I decided I had it in me to play one more season," he added. "I told management I was willing to return and I reminded them of our agreement from the year before."
Alfredsson surprised many a few days later when he signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Red Wings. The Senators, unable to come to terms with their longest-serving player, made a blockbuster trade just hours later acquiring winger Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks.
"I respected Bryan (Murray) for everything he's done for this team as a coach and GM," said Alfredsson. "I understand it was hard for them to make it work under my terms."
In a follow-up interview with Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun, Murray said he wasn't sure Alfredsson's agent J.P. Barry gave his client all the details over the contract negotiations between both sides.
"I can say this: I'm disappointed," Murray told The Sun after hearing what was said at the news conference. "It seems Alfie isn't totally informed of what went on. That had to do with J.P. - didn't tell me the truth during the week. He kept saying 'I can't get in touch with Alfie. I will get back to you with a number.'
"He never got back to me. I never heard back from him after the phone call on Tuesday (July 2). Alfie called me himself on Thursday night to tell me that he was leaving. I said to J.P. during the earlier conversations I can't pay you $7 million. That's what they asked for for the year.
"I offered $4.5 million. I said, 'Both of us hopefully are flexible and we will talk.' (Barry) said he would get back to me. I just took for granted that would happen and it never happened. I never heard back. I have not J.P. since the $7 milliion (demand in New York) Saturday meeting we had. It was $12 million for two years and $7 million for one. That's disappointing."
Barry - one of the game's most prominent player agents - responded to Murray's remarks, telling TSN on Thursday afternoon that his client had taken below market deals before and that the negotiations were simply done in the best interest of the business at hand. "Shooting the messenger is something I have never believed in nor will I ever," Barry explained. "It's just not productive in our business to make negotiations personal."
"I decided not to respond in July when Bryan chose to criticize my role as an agent in this process. It was an emotional day. I get it.
"The fact is this was a negotiation concerning impending free agency. We made multiple offers and invited them to negotiate. They provided a number on the weekend prior to July 5 and said this is all they can do due to internal budget restrictions. It wasn't a market offer in our estimation. They wanted Daniel to take a below market deal again after he had done the same several times previously and we didn't feel that was appropriate."
Daniel and I spoke every day during the process at length. Essentially, the Senators wanted us to present lower offers to them and that is not how the process works. When a player has impending free agency and the Club wants to keep that player, they need to present their best offer and not ask the player to negotiate against himself. The interview window opened after we couldn't bridge the gap over the weekend and a new opportunity and a new challenge came along. By that time it was simply too late. I won't make any further comments. It's time to move on."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Ottawa Citizen Thursday afternoon that the league doesn't intend to investigate on whether or not the Senators intentionally circumvented the salary cap with Alfredsson's previous contract.
"I would say that if negotiations went down precisely as Daniel described (them), that would be a concern," Daly stated in an email to The Citizen. "We haven't independently verified that, and at this point we don't intend to."
Alfredsson made his NHL debut with the Senators in 1995-96 after being selected in the sixth round of the 1994 draft by Ottawa. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie and went on to play in six All-Star games.
Ottawa's captain since the 1999-2000 season, Alfredsson is the all-time leader in games played, goals and points for the team. He played all 1,178 games of his NHL career with the Senators, putting up 426 goals and 682 assists.
Files from The Ottawa Sun and The Ottawa Citizen were used for this report.