Mendes: Alfredsson's most controversial moments in Ottawa

Ian Mendes

11/29/2013 11:57:45 AM

On Sunday night, Daniel Alfredsson will make his much-anticipated return to Ottawa for the first time since suddenly bolting town as a free agent.

The organization seems to be extending a small olive branch towards their former captain, as owner Eugene Melnyk confirmed to TSN 1200 this week that the Sens will have a video tribute for Alfredsson. The highlight reel will run just after the anthems are played and before the opening face-off, ensuring that the atmosphere inside Canadian Tire Centre will be electric.

If Twitter, phone calls and e-mails to our radio station are any indication, there could be a mixed reaction for Alfredsson on Sunday.  My gut feeling is that about 90 per cent of the crowd will applaud Alfredsson after the video tribute with a majority of people giving him a standing ovation.

There will undoubtedly be a small murmuring of boos in the crowd, as some people felt Alfredsson betrayed the organization and city with his decision to sign with the Red Wings.

In any event, Sunday does have the potential to be a polarizing moment for Alfredsson in Ottawa.  But that's nothing new for the ex-captain, who is certainly used to being a lightning rod for criticism in this town. Here's a look at the five most polarizing and controversial moments of Daniel Alfredsson's career with the Senators.

5. Shooting puck at Niedermayer

In the dying moments of the second period in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, Alfredsson appeared to shoot the puck directly at Ducks defenceman Scott Niedermayer. In subsequent interviews, Alfredsson insisted that the puck was rolling around on his stick and he never intended to shoot the puck directly at the future Hall of Famer. 

But Niedermayer's take on the situation was quite different as he certainly hinted that Alfredsson's actions were intentional during his post-game interviews.

"I wasn't happy. There's no need to get hit with a puck at that point. But I'm not going to say more than that," Niedermayer said at the time.

Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle was even more blunt and accusatory in his post-game press conference.

"I thought it was blatant shooting the puck at our player at the end of the period," Carlyle said. "You could tell he directed it toward him because he changed the shooting angle halfway through his wind-up. People have long memories."

The Senators were down 2-1 in the series and many people suggested that Alfredsson was trying to do something to spark his team. But the Senators had just tied up the game 2-2 when Dany Heatley scored at the 18:00-minute mark of the period, so why would Alfredsson feel the need to jumpstart his team? Whatever the case, the Ducks ended up breaking the tie with a third-period goal by Dustin Penner to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the series.

4. The fake stick toss tribute to Sundin

This was one of the funniest and wittiest things any player has ever done in the middle of an NHL game – at least that's the opinion of people who lived in Ottawa. As for those who reside in Toronto, they viewed this as a classless gesture by the Ottawa captain.

Just a few days after Mats Sundin was suspended by the NHL for carelessly throwing his broken stick shaft into the crowd, Alfredsson found himself in a similar situation at centre ice at the Air Canada Centre. The Sens captain had broken his stick and, as a joke, he decided to do a mock stick toss into the crowd – emulating the Sundin incident.

Whether you think it was funny or not, you do have to give Alfredsson credit for thing: Having the wherewithal to even think about pulling that stunt in the middle of an NHL game is pretty impressive.

3. The "probably not" comment

After a 7-3 loss on home ice to the Penguins in Game 4 of the 2013 playoffs, Alfredsson was asked if his team could come back and beat Pittsburgh given the way the series was going. His answer of "probably not" generated a media firestorm, as many viewed the comment as defeatist and a sign the Sens captain was surrendering.

Others felt Alfredsson was just being brutally honest and possibly trying to deflect some of the pressure away from his team. In the end, Alfredsson had to change his answer to "definitely not," after the Sens ended up losing Game 5 by a lopsided margin of 6-2.

2. The Pominville OT goal

In the spring of 2006, the Senators bowed out rather meekly to the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of the playoffs. The Sens had been the Eastern Conference's top seed during the regular season, but ended up being eliminated in five games by Buffalo.

The crushing blow came in the overtime period of Game 5, when Jason Pominville blew past Alfredsson – who was manning the point on the power play – and scored a shorthanded goal to win the series. While some fault could have been laid on Wade Redden and Ray Emery on that play, Alfredsson took the lion's share of the blame.

In the months that followed, a significant portion of the Sens fan base wanted Alfredsson traded – insisting that the Pominville incident was tangible proof that they could not win with the captain.  By the fall of 2006, the cries to trade Alfredsson had become so loud that rumors were swirling about a potential deal with the Los Angeles Kings.

Ironically enough, one year after the Pominville goal, Alfredsson would be the one to score a series-clinching goal in Game 5 against the Sabres, sending the Sens to the Cup Final for the first time in modern history.

1. The hit on Darcy Tucker

With the score tied 2-2 and time running out in Game 5 of the 2002 playoff series between the Sens and Maple Leafs, Alfredsson delivered a controversial hit on Darcy Tucker.  To add salt to the wound, while Tucker was writhing on the ice in pain, Alfredsson went to the front of the net and scored the eventual game-winning goal past Curtis Joseph.  The Leafs bench was irate that no penalty was called on the play and the crowd at the Air Canada Centre chanted obscenities towards the officials.

The hit on Tucker made Alfredsson public enemy No. 1 in Toronto and was the catalyst for why he started getting booed every time he touched the puck in a game involving the Leafs and Senators.

Will the hit on Darcy Tucker make Alfredsson's video montage on Sunday at Canadian Tire Centre? If it does, you can bet that portion of the video will receive a loud ovation from the Ottawa crowd.