I know that every fanbase overrates their own team’s players.
This topic comes up a lot when it comes to Ottawa Senators legend Daniel Alfredsson and his candidacy for the Hockey Hall of Fame. If you ask Sens fans, we’ll say it’s a travesty that he isn’t in yet; he was undoubtedly the greatest Sens player of all time, and the fanbase holds a reverence for him that no player in franchise history has come close to matching. But to much of the rest of the hockey world, Alfie falls into the good-but-not-great category, a player who will certainly be fondly remembered by hockey fans but whose induction would cheapen the Hall of Fame selection criteria.
Maybe it’s true that Sens fans have rose-tinted glasses on when it comes to Alfie - or just haven’t seen good enough players to know what really makes a Hall of Famer - but I think it’s also fair to say that the rest of the hockey world just never paid as much attention to Daniel Alfredsson as Sens fans did.
Daniel Alfredsson belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here are just a few reasons why:
I won’t spend too much time reiterating Alfredsson’s point totals relative to his peers, because that’s been done already. Ian Mendes did a great job of diving into the numbers last year.
Alfredsson ended his career with well over 1,000 points, and 444 goals. He never won a major individual award, but was consistently near the top of the league during his prime, and played on the best line in hockey for a few seasons. From 2000-2010, he was third in the NHL in points, behind only Joe Thornton and Jarome Iginla. He had exactly 100 playoff points in 124 games, including 51 goals.
Alfredsson’s career point totals put him solidly in “very, very good” territory. There are players with fewer points than him in the Hall of Fame, and players with more points than him who aren’t in. He might not get in on points alone, but few do, and his point totals are good enough to at least earn him consideration.
He also won the Calder trophy as rookie of the year in 1996, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarian work in 2012 , and the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2013. He was a 6x All-Star. He never won the Stanley Cup, but he was part of several deep playoff runs and scored many important goals. He even lead the 2007 playoffs in goals, which doesn’t earn you a trophy but should at least count for something.
Again, it’s not enough to automatically make him a Hall of Famer, but it’s not nothing.
As we still need to point out every year, it’s the Hockey Hall of Fame, not the NHL Hall of Fame. Alfredsson’s play in international competition has already earned him a spot in the IIHF Hall of Fame. He represented Sweden at 14 International tournaments, including four Olympics, winning gold in 2006, when he also lead his team in scoring.
On top of being a franchise icon in Ottawa, Alfredsson is one of the greatest Swedish hockey players of all time. He’s second only to Mats Sundin in all-time points by Swedish NHL players, was the first European born and trained captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup Final, and was an alternate captain on several National teams. He was also the captain at the 2012 World Championships.
Look. He’s already in the IIHF Hall of Fame. I don’t think there’s much debate about that part of his resume.
Contributions to his team
According to the Hockey Hall of Fame website, the basis of selection for candidates in the player category is “playing ability, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her team or teams and to the game of hockey in general.”
This, I think, is what really pushes Alfredsson over the edge.
Daniel Alfredsson holds the all-time franchise records for goals, assists, points and shots. He was the longest serving captain in franchise history, by a hilariously wide margin, and the first Senators player of the modern era to have his number retired. None of these stats or records can convey just how much he meant to this franchise and this city.
Much of what I wrote two weeks ago about Jason Spezza’s Senators legacy applies to Alfredsson as well. He gave this young franchise an identity. He was the heart and soul of the team, the most beloved player in franchise history, the guy who got so many people interested in the Sens in the 2000s and 2010s.
Supporters of more established franchises might scoff at me for bringing up Alfie’s impact on a specific team as part of his Hall of Fame case, but… shouldn’t that count for something? Daniel Alfredsson was the first real icon of a bankrupt expansion team. He led the Senators to their first run of real playoff success, and was instrumental in building a fanbase in Ottawa. That sure sounds like it fits under “contributions to his team.”
It’s not called the “Hall of Very Good,” but it’s not called the “Hall of Exceptionally Good,” either; it’s the Hall of Fame.
Daniel Alfredsson belongs there.