For 17 seasons, Daniel Alfredsson represented the Ottawa Senators. No player appeared in more games (1,178), recorded more goals (426), assists (682) or points (1,108) in the history of the franchise than Alfredsson, and when the prospects of his free agency developed this summer many believed his return to Ottawa was merely a formality.
And so we waited. And waited. And waited some more, while anticipating the announcement of Alfredsson's agreement on a new contract with the only club he had ever known. The same club whose fans chanted "Alfie! Alfie! Alfie!" at the 11-minute mark of every period to pay their respects to the No. 11 on the back of Alfredsson's jersey.
The waiting ended on July 5 when it was announced Alfredsson had come to terms on a one-year, $5.5 million bonus-laden contract with the Detroit Red Wings.
The reasoning for Alfredsson's departure from Ottawa still remains unclear. Alfredsson indicated that he is chasing an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup and felt that Detroit provided a better chance than Ottawa. Of course, compensation is a component in this situation, as questions persist about the financial situation surrounding the Senators and their ability/willingness to match his asking price.
Alfredsson stated that he was looking to recoup money he was owed in his last contract, as he was only paid $1 million in real money for the 2012-13 season. The reason he only received $1 million was because he intended to retire after the 2011-12 campaign and the final-year of his deal was an artificial year to help lower the annual cap hit on the agreement. This, he said, was done with the intention of helping the Senators and he believed he deserved to have the favor repaid.
Based upon the account of manager Bryan Murray, Alfredsson's agent J.P. Barry tabled two offers; a one-year proposal for $7 million and a two-year proposal for $12 million ($6 million annually). The $7 million figure was established to compensate for the $3 million he lost in 2012-13 (his annual average salary was $4.875 million on that deal), in addition to the $4 million he wanted for 2013-14.
Ottawa's offer remains the cloudy portion of the equation. Murray indicated that the club gave him a blank check to retain Alfredsson, but that his initial offer was for $4.5 million. As negotiations entered the final week, communication calmed between the two clubs, as Barry began fielding inquiries from other teams — notably, the Boston Bruins and Red Wings.
By the time the blank check came into the picture, Alfredsson had already warmed to the idea of leaving for greener pastures, pastures which included the familiarity of Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall.
On Wednesday night, the Senators former captain will face his old club for the first time. The setting won't add much ambiance, as the two teams are scheduled to meet in Red Wings' territory. While facing his former mates — and new division rivals — is an intriguing moment, the reaction of the Ottawa faithful will truly be a key chapter in this tale.
Until then, Wednesday night will act as a primer for anyone associated with the Ottawa franchise to begin turning the page on one of the club's greatest players.