Alfredsson’s decision to leave Sens didn’t shock Chiarelli

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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.

Related:

Sens GM Murray: Alfredsson conversation ‘devastating, disappointing’

Alfredsson expects anger from Sens fans, ‘as there definitely should be’

Alfredsson, Detroit make it official: one year, $5.5 million

‘Dialed in’ Hurricanes could add more drama to playoff race

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At first glance, Carolina’s potential playoff push seems like a longshot.

The ‘Canes head into tonight’s action five points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and would need to leapfrog both the Bolts and Isles just to get there.

BUT!

The ‘Canes have a game in hand on both New York and Tampa Bay, and two on Boston. They also get to play six of their last nine at home, and are currently riding a terrific streak in which they’ve collected 17 of a possible 20 points (7-0-3 in their last 10).

“Guys are playing well, guys are dialed in,” head coach Bill Peters said, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “You’ve got to continue to keep pace. Around the league everyone seems to find a way to win, so you’ve got to keep pace and then hopefully somebody falters.”

Looking ahead, the next 48 hours will decide if this dream becomes a reality. Carolina begins a crucial back-to-back set against the Red Wings tonight, with both games to be played at PNC.

Tonight’s game, you may recall, is the makeup date for the Dec. 19 postponement due to unplayable ice.

As such, the ‘Canes now get a Red Wings team playing its third game in four nights, following Friday’s 2-1 OT loss to Tampa Bay and yesterday’s 3-2 OT win over Minnesota. Veteran Detroit d-man Niklas Kronwall isn’t expected to face Carolina, and the club is unsure if Darren Helm (lower body) can go.

The ‘Canes, meanwhile, are pretty healthy and firing away. Jeff Skinner has a five-game goalscoring streak, Elias Lindholm has points in each of his last 10 contests and Sebastian Aho in each of his last six. The club has also received terrific netminding from Eddie Lack, who has gone 5-1-1 in March with a .931 save percentage.

If they can get a result tonight, attention will be turned to the out-of-town scoreboard. The Isles are at home to the streaking Nashville Predators (6-1-0 in their last seven), and the Bolts host the Blackhawks, who are coming off an embarrassing 7-0 loss in Florida.

The Bruins aren’t back in action until Tuesday, when they host the Preds.

Report: Coyotes majority owner has a ‘potential new partner’

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The Arizona Coyotes’ ownership group may be getting a new member.

According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, Randy Frankel is a “potential new partner” for majority owner Andrew Barroway.

Frankel, who made his money on Wall Street, is already a part owner of MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays.

Shannon also reported that the Coyotes required a mid-season cash call, to the tune of $20 million, from their ownership group. Arizona has averaged just 13,020 fans at home games this season; hence, the revenue shortfall.

The Coyotes, of course, are trying to get a new arena built in the greater Phoenix area. So far, their efforts have been for naught.

Related: Arizona lawmaker suggests Coyotes pledge more money for new arena

Report: Rangers land Gophers standout Lettieri

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University of Minnesota senior Vinni Lettieri has agreed to join the Ranger organization, per the Star-Tribune.

Lettieri, 22, finished second on the club in goals this year, with 19, and third in scoring with 37 points in 38 games. The Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo reports Lettieri is joining New York’s AHL affiliate in Hartford, and that he and the Blueshirts are closing in on a two-year, entry-level contract.

Lettieri has some interesting bloodlines. His grandfather is former Minnesota North Stars player/head coach/GM Lou Nanne, and his father is former professional soccer netminder Tino Lettieri, who represented Canada at the 1986 World Cup.

The younger Lettieri went undrafted, and was a free agent following Minnesota’s NCAA championship loss to Notre Dame.

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.