For the first time in his 18 season NHL career, Detroit Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson is preparing to face a former team. That's because he spent the first 17 campaigns with the Ottawa Senators; the team that made him the 133rd overall pick in the sixth round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft before making the move to the Motor City.
On Wednesday, the Senators will make their first visit of the season to Detroit and the meeting has been on Alfredsson's mind.
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"I don't know how it's going to feel," Alfredsson told TSN's Brent Wallace in an exclusive sit down interview. "Part of me is a little excited because a lot of my friends are on the other team and it's going to be about bragging rights in some terms. On the other hand it's going to be different emotions going through me as well."
While meeting his former teammates for the first time is going to be big, the 40-year-old forward feels that playing for the first time in Ottawa, in front of the Senators fans, is going to be an even bigger challenge.
"That's going to be the most emotional game, December 1st in Ottawa no question," said Alfredsson. "The way the schedule works out, we're going to play them twice here before and I think I'll have dealt with most of the questions. It will be more focused on the game."
After announcing his decision to move from the Senators to the Red Wings, one of the reasons Alfredsson gave for making the choice was seeing a better chance to win the Stanley Cup in Detroit; a statement that wasn't well received in Ottawa.
"Looking back, not the best comment I could have made, but I think we all know that if you get into the playoffs you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup," said Alfredsson. "Ottawa, going forward, are going to get better and better because they have a really good core to build on. For me, (Detroit) is a different challenge."
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk claimed that there was miscommunication between the forward and his agent J.P. Barry while they were trying to negotiate a contract extension. This is a claim that Alfredsson denies.
"I was in daily contact with J.P. throughout the whole process and if there was miscommunication it would have been from both sides, I assume," said Alfredsson. "From our point of view, me and J.P., we were close throughout the whole process and I don't feel that there was any miscommunication."
Despite selling his Ottawa home and moving his family to Detroit, the Gothenburg, Sweden native has not shut the door on returning to the Senators organization when his time with the Red Wings is over.
"I haven't closed anything off," said Alfredsson. "This is a new chapter in our lives, a new challenge and who knows what's going to happen after. We haven't planned anything about moving back to Sweden, Ottawa or staying (in Detroit)."
The veteran is not worried about how he's viewed through the choices he's made but does want the people that used to cheer for him to know they are held in high regard.
"I do care what people in Ottawa think of me and the love and support they gave me will always be with me and those 18 years will be a very special time."
Alfredsson does, however, dispute the idea that the feelings coming from his former home are as hurt as people want to believe.
"I don't think there is as much bitterness as people make it out to be," said Alfredsson. "In the long run we had a great relationship throughout my career, both on and off the ice, and you can't change that. I think if you carry yourself with pride and treat people the way they want to be treated, things usually work out."