Alfie gives Sweden a boost

The 39-year-old winger goes for his seventh Worlds event

29.04.2012
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Canada Hockey Place Vancouver British Columbia Canada

Sweden's Daniel Alfredsson (right) battles with Finland's Toni Lydman at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images

Daniel Alfredsson gives the Swedish national team the good news they need after five straight exhibition game losses. The 39-year-old Ottawa Senators forward accepted the invitation to the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. He gave GM Johan Garpenlöv the good news on Sunday evening.

Not that Daniel Alfredsson had anything to prove to the Swedish hockey community, but him committing to the World Championship after just having finished his 16th NHL season at the age of 39 and after having suffered a tough game-seven loss against the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs, will make Alfredsson one of the most celebrated players to ever don the Tre Kronor jersey.

“Immediately when we were eliminated from the playoffs, I spoke with Erik Karlsson and asked him how he feels about going to the World Championship,” says Alfredsson to IIHF.com. “I told him that I myself feel good about it. This week when I was off with the concussion made that I feel rested now and ready to go.”

“Family was a big part of the decision as my wife will have to carry all the weight alone for a couple of weeks, but they may come to Stockholm for the last week,” says Alfredsson.

He will become the oldest player to represent Sweden at a men’s IIHF World Championship in the modern era. Börje Salming was 38 when he played in Stockholm 1989 Worlds, but Salming played in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville when he was 41.

This will be Alfredsson’s seventh World Championship, but the first since Austria 2005. He has also represented Sweden in all four Olympics with NHL participation (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) and in the two World Cups which have taken place, 1996 and 2004.

With Alfredsson committing, he returns to the place – Globen Arena in Stockholm – where he played his very first Worlds event in 1995 at the age of 22. It was this tournament which became his international coming-out party and where he became a national hero after scoring the semi-final overtime winner against Canada. Sweden went on to lose the gold medal game to Finland, 4-1.

“Being able to go back to the place where my career really started was a big part of the decision. Everything just took off after the 1995 championship and I signed with the Senators after the tournament,” says Alfredsson.

And the gold medal loss is something he would like to avenge 17 years later, to lead the Swedish team to the final stages of the 2012 event in Helsinki and defeat the Finns in the gold medal game on their home ice.

“This would of course be the perfect scenario after all those years, to beat Finland in on their home ice. I have never won the World Championship.”

His biggest accomplishment with the Swedish team was winning the 2006 Olympic gold in Turin. Silver in 1995 and 2004 and bronze in 1999 and 2001 are his best results in the Worlds.

Alfredsson has been Sweden’s arguably most reliable international contributor in the ‘90s and 2000s. He has played 78 games in the Olympics, World Championships and World Cups scoring 68 points (29 goals and 39 assists).

Drafted only in the sixth round in 1994 by the Ottawa Senators he has played all his 1,131 NHL games with that club, being almost a point-per-game player; 416 goals + 666 assists for 1,082 points.

He says that the decision to play the Worlds has nothing to do with the decision to play one more year in the NHL or to retire.

“These are two separate things,” says Alfredsson. “I will make the decision a couple of weeks after the World Championship.”

SZYMON SZEMBERG


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