When forward Daniel Alfredsson decided to put off retirement for at least another season, the assumption was that re-signing the long-time Senators captain would be a mere formality for Ottawa.
Even when reports started to surface that Alfredsson was talking to other teams, it seemed unlikely that the 40-year-old would actually leave the only NHL team that he’s ever played for.
As recently as Thursday, Senators GM Bryan Murray seemed almost dismissive about the threat of their captain actually leaving.
“I guess it’s the big issue in town. I didn’t realize it was that big an issue because we’re going to get it done, I assume,” Murray said.
But of course he signed elsewhere and one person that wasn’t surprised was one of the people courting him, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.
“After my discussions with him, no, I wasn’t surprised,” Chiarelli told NHL.com. “There’s a lot of similarities here, too, with Jarome [Iginla]. These guys are elite players in the league for a long time and they want to win. They have a thirst and a hunger, both, to win.”
The situations aren’t identical. Iginla was traded by the Calgary Flames to jump start their rebuilding efforts, while the Ottawa Senators are a young, but competitive team. Still, they’re both veterans that left cities that they had strong connections to, so Iginla can speak from experience when talking about Alfredsson’s decision.
“I don’t think he took it lightly at all,” Iginla said. “By going through it, I know it’s not an easy thing as far as leaving a team you’ve been with for a long time and made a lot of friends and life-long friends. …
“He wants to win. We want to win. As players you want to win and I don’t know which team he thinks is better or anything like that, that’s not for me to say. But obviously he still loves playing and has that fire. I guess he probably feels that’s his best shot.”
Ultimately, Alfredsson picked the Detroit Red Wings over Boston and regardless of his reasons, Chiarelli isn’t taking it personally.
“I don’t know what (Alfredsson’s) assessment was as to why he thought that was the better fit,” Chiarelli said, “but I respect it, the same way that I respect Jarome coming back to us and wanting an opportunity.”
Plus if the Boston Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs, then they’ll get Alfredsson in 2014-15.