One of the major curiosity dates on the NHL schedule takes place this evening when longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson returns to Ottawa for the first time as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
It's the biggest story in town in Canada's capital, as evidenced by today's cover of the Ottawa Sun (left). The game is a 5:30 start and will be shown nationwide in Canada, and on NHL Network in the United States.
(* -- If you're looking for Sabres news, they're off today and return to the ice tomorrow *)
Alfredsson got to practice in his old rink Saturday and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Alfie will be in the starting lineup as the Senators play a five-minute video tribute to their former captain.
It will certainly be interesting to see the reaction for Alfredsson, who is clearly the greatest Senator of all time but was a bit of a turncoat when he spured Ottawa and signed a one-year deal with Detroit in July. I'm sure there are Senators fans who aren't keen on the idea of a tribute.
An aside here: The Sabres correctly never considered a tribute for Daniel Briere and Chris Drury when they returned in 2008 because fan backlash would have been huge. If you remember, they basically both got booed every time they touched the puck. Alfredsson, on the other hand, is essentially the Gilbert Perreault of Ottawa.
(And, for the record, the Sabres still were dopes for not giving Jason Pominville 30 seconds when he returned in October, although the current belief is Darcy Regier nixed that plan. Still, no current Sabres employee has ever confirmed that point to me and it would have made sense to given how they got shredded in my column and by plenty of fans. But I digress...)
The reaction of the fans to Alfredsson is just about as big a story as the game itself.
"I'm anxious to play the game. What's going to happen will happen," Alfredsson said. "It's very different from anything I've ever gone through before. I don't know what to expect or what's going to happen. I'm hopeful it will be a good night."
taggedDetroit Red Wings | Ottawa Senators