Daniel Alfredsson thanks Ottawa, retires a Senator

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After playing in 1,246 career NHL games, 1,178 of them with Ottawa, Daniel Alfredsson will step onto the ice tonight before the Senators’ contest against the New York Islanders and formally close this chapter of his life. In doing so, Alfredsson is firmly showing that while his tenure in Ottawa might not have ended on an ideal note, the Senators still occupy a large place in his heart.

“It’s great to be back in Ottawa,” said Alfredsson, per the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch. Alfredsson added, “You made your town our town. Thank you.”

It seems appropriate for him to put on the Senators’ jersey one more time. For over a decade he was the team captain and face of the franchise. Although he never led the league in goals or points and was rarely in the top-10 in either category, he was a consistent force, recording at least 70 points for nine straight seasons from 2000-01 through 2009-10.

Alfredsson, 41, initially planned to extend his career for at least one more season, but back problems have become an increasing factor since he started to experience them four years ago.

“Last year my body began to complain once more,” Alfredsson said, according to NHL.com. “The old injuries and hard work to recover began again. I worked hard to play another year [but] three weeks ago I decided to retire.”

He doesn’t know what’s next for him. The Ottawa Senators are leaving the door open for him to work with them in the next phase of his life, but they want to give him a chance to take a deep breath first.

For now, his focus is on soaking in today as a city thanks him for his years of hard work on their behalf.