The old man trailing the phenom, they came off the practice ice, greeted by a friendly mob of autograph seekers.
It was quite a scene: The Swedish kid, Erik Karlsson, standing next to the Swedish royal, Daniel Alfredsson, in the tunnel leading to the Senators' dressing room at Scotiabank Place, both reaching up to fans in the stands, signing jerseys and posters with their left hands.
Who would have guessed, 20 years ago when Ottawa made its way back to the NHL with a band of misfits and castoffs that the region's hockey world would be rocked by a pair of Southpaw Swedes (who shoot right-handed). But so it is.
Alfredsson the Elder was a raw rookie in 1995-96 when he exploded onto the Senators' roster, winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top first-year player. To say Alfredsson was a pleasant surprise is to understate. As the team's SECOND selection out of the sixth round in the 1994 draft, 133rd overall (where are you now, 131st overall selection Mike Gaffney?), Alfredsson was in his own world in Sweden. He didn't know there was an NHL draft. When he heard he'd been chosen, he figured he might try this North American league for a year or so, then probably return to his Frolunda pro club in the Swedish Elite League.
He could not have envisioned, 19 years into the future, becoming the most prominent person in Ottawa, a lock for mayor should he ever opt to run for office. How different the path has been for Karlsson, selected 15th overall in 2008, the Swedish prospects by then utterly plugged into the NHL draft, locked onto NHL stars like Forsberg, Lidstrom and Alfredsson. Karlsson was in the house at Scotiabank Place on draft night, cocky, walking with a swagger to the dais, where none other than Alfredsson was at the microphone to announce the Senators' pick.
Alfredsson staring down another season, uncertain future
Ottawa Citizen | Jan 19