STOCKHOLM Ė Daniel Alfredssonís come full circle. In 1995, he made a name for himself in Stockholm as he scored an OT goal versus Canada in the World Championship semi-finals. Now, this 2006 Olympic gold medalist hopes to add more hardware in a Swedish-hosted tournament again.
A fixture in Tre Kronorís lineup, Alfredsson is competing in his seventh IIHF World Championship. The product of FrŲlunda Gothenburg has collected two silver medals and two bronze medals thus far.
The 39-year-old Ottawa captain has spent his entire NHL career with the Senators, accumulating 1,082 points in 1,131 career games. He led the team to the 2007 Stanley Cup final, and has become a cornerstone of the community in the Canadian capital, where he resides with his wife and four sons.
IIHF.com caught up with Alfredsson after Swedenís Monday afternoon practice to ask him questions submitted by fans from all over the world.
What has impressed you the most about the way the Swedish national team has played so far at this World Championship? (Joakim Svensson, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Our pace of the game, I believe, has been really good. Weíve been able to put a lot of pressure on the other team and create a lot of offence from our aggressive forecheck. If I go back to most of the other times Iíve played in the World Championships, weíve usually played more of a passive style. Now weíre being really aggressive and itís been successful for us.
Itís been more of a pressure system, and everybody has to do it. It doesnít work if one guy goes by himself. But everybodyís on board. When we do get pressure on the other team, we usually play in their end for good periods of time.
Other than winning Olympic gold in 2006, what are some of your most memorable moments and memories playing for Sweden? (Jarka and Yvette Homolka, Lilydale, Australia)
My first World Championship here in Stockholm in 1995 is a highlight. Representing Sweden was obviously a dream of mine growing up. Being able to do that on home ice in Stockholm was a great experience. For a young guy like me then, it was probably a big stepping stone for me ending up in the NHL.
Considering the great performance of the Swedish junior team, do you think Sweden might reach first place in the IIHF World Ranking in the near future? (David Fischer, Prague, Czech Republic - via Facebook)
Well, weíre up there. Itís tough competition. But we see ourselves as definitely one of the best teams in the world internationally. Having said that, there are at least five or six other teams that probably think the same way! [chuckles]
Everybody knows Canada has the most depth of any country. The U.S. is coming on. I think their junior program that theyíve had the last few years is starting to pay off. Russia is always good. The Czechs maybe dropped a little bit the last few years, but still look good. Slovakia, kind of the same thing. And then our biggest rival, Finland, also has a good team. Itís encouraging to see the young players we are developing, and itís definitely reason for optimism for the future.
Besides leadership, what values are needed to be a good hockey captain? (Lyne Ouellette, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada)
I think you need to be an honest person, obviously. Everybodyís different. You grow up and you have your values, and I think you just have to be yourself. If the team feels you deserve to be captain, itís probably because you have a lot to contribute.
For me, itís always been that I demand a lot from myself in terms of work ethic and paying attention to details. By doing that, I can challenge the other guys to do the same, and they respect that. They see that ďhe pays the price, and why shouldnít I?Ē I think thatís an important tool to have.
Itís amazing that you play like you do at 39. Do you think that you would have been the player you are today, had you been drafted at 18 and played in the NHL at 19? (Lukasz Kowalski, Katowice, Poland)
Obviously itís impossible to answer. But I think I was more mature than maybe an 18-year-old would be going to the NHL. I had a year and a half of first-division menís hockey and three years of elite-league hockey before going to the NHL. I also had played with the national team. So I was ready when I came over. I think it did help me in a big way. When I got there, I was ready to take on a bigger role right away. There are very few players that can go in at age 18 and take a spot and play top-six forward minutes. By waiting and making sure I was ready, I was able to do that. I could handle it emotionally and physically, especially.
Youíve said this past NHL season was one of your most enjoyable. What was your favoruite part of your year here in Ottawa? (Mark Bunker, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
Making the playoffs. Going into the season with the team we had, it was the first time I could remember that we didnít have high expectations on ourselves. Being able to almost overachieve, I think everybody bought into what the coaching staff was selling. We worked extremely hard, but we also had a lot of fun doing it.
You play with Stťphane Da Costa with the Ottawa Senators. What do you think about the French ice hockey players and about the French ice hockey team? (Nicolas Didelot, Tarbes, France)
I donít know too many other players on the team, except Stťphane. But heís an extremely skilled forward. He played close to 20 games with us this year, and did well. Itís a big step, going from college to the NHL.
Heís a player that I think needs a little more time to develop physically, especially to get stronger. If he does that, he has the ability to be a good player in the NHL. He saw that when he played. Some games he played really well, but others he didnít play as well. It was mostly because he wasnít physically ready. But as he grows and gets more mature, that will come. He could have a really bright future.
What do you think about Erik Karlsson? Does he have a chance to become a superstar like Nicklas LidstrŲm? (Marcin Kyc, Sosnowiec, Poland - via Facebook)
You know, itís tough to compare someone to LidstrŲm, one of the best defencemen in the modern era. They are different players, too, in the ways they play. I think Nicklas is more of a solid guy that plays in every situation. Erik might get there, but heís more of an offensive guy. Heís definitely improved his defensive play, but heís more of an explosive guy that joins the rush all the time. I think Nicklas picks his spots more, and he never makes a mistake. Heís just solid, night in and night out.
Erik has that potential to be a superstar, thereís no question. I also think he might almost change the way you want the defencemen to play, too, a little bit. You want that guy that skates all the time, that joins the rush all the time. Itís a tough mix, where you also want to be strong and play in front of your own net. But when you see a guy who can skate like he can, it could be a huge advantage. I donít think a lot of people thought he would be able to play this well at the size he is. But heís got balance and speed to make up for lack of strength and size.
I would like to know if you see yourself behind the Senators bench as an assistant or even a head coach in the NHL eventually? If so, would you be more of a strategy-minded or a motivator-type coach? (Pierre Larabie, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
I think Iíd be both. I donít see myself coaching too soon. I think it takes even more time at the rink than it does as a player to prepare! [chuckles] Right now, I donít think Iím ready for that. But I like the strategic aspect of the game. I think I read the game really well. I try to talk to our coaches about things Iíd like to see at times. Iím interested in how the coaches think. I like that part of it. So I think Iíd be a bit of both types. I think I can also challenge guys and motivate them in different ways.
If you had the choice of any players from any NHL teams, who would you love to have as linemates and why? (Paula Concepcion, Vancouver, BC, Canada)
An all-star lineup with myself? [thinks] I would take [Henrik] Lundqvist in net from New York. Iíve played with him and against him, and Iíd rather play with him. [chuckles] For defencemen, Iíd probably take [Zdeno] Chara and [Erik] Karlsson. I think that would be a good mix. Chara has the big shot, but heís more of a stay-at-home guy. Erik could be the one joining the rush, with Chara being the solid guy. Then Iíd probably have [Sidney] Crosby and [Yevgeni] Malkin for my centre and left wing. Crosby is a great playmaker and strong on the puck. Malkin, same thing, but Malkin is a scoring threat too, great shot, great playmaker. I can just hide in the slot. [laughs]
Which NHL arena has the best ice? (Bob Hoffman, Washington, DC, USA)
[thinks] I donít know. People used to say Edmonton, but not anymore, although they have good ice. I think the arenas around the league are more booked up than they used to be, and thatís a big problem with the ice. So there isnít one rink where I say, ďHey, hereís great ice.Ē Itís OK for the most part, donít get me wrong, but no arena stands out.
When you decide to retire from the NHL, will you retire as a member of the Senators, or have you considered playing one last season in the Swedish Elitserien? (Christoffer Olofsson, Stockholm, Sweden - via Facebook)
I will retire as a Senator. I wonít play in the Swedish league again. There are a few reasons. Once I feel like Iím done in the NHL, I think Iím done because mentally and physically I donít feel like I can contribute as much as I would like or motivate myself. You know, if you go back to the Swedish league and try to play when youíre not motivated, itís even worse, because itís more skating and itís even harder. So I will retire as an Ottawa Senator.
If you weren't a hockey player, what would you do for a living? Did you have a ďbackup planĒ back in the days when you were starting as a youngster? (Vladimir Georgiev, Silistra, Bulgaria)
I didnít have a backup plan. I had a few different jobs growing up. I worked at a golf course. I love golf, and thatís how I started to golf. I worked at a warehouse. So I did a few things. I studied economics in high school. Thatís not something Iím looking at right now either. I donít know what I would have done. I think I would have been involved in sports. I was a pretty good soccer player.
If I could choose, I would probably be a carpenter. Thatís what I wanted to be when I grew up. I applied for carpentry in school, but then I couldnít have gone in the hockey high school, or ďgymnasiumĒ, as it was called. So I had to take economics instead. But that said, my dad was a carpenter, and itís something I wish I could do.
Do you watch any other sports apart from hockey? (Linda Komen, Preston, United Kingdom)
I watch golf, tennis, and soccer. Any sport, really, if itís a big game. I can watch baseball, even though Iím not a baseball fan. Maybe not basketball Ė I donít follow it that much. Even the NFL. But I love watching sports, although I donít watch as much anymore with four kids. But golf, tennis, and soccer are the ones I follow more than any other.
Have you and your family ever skated on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa? (Carol Slack, Ottawa, Ontario)
We have. With the two oldest ones we have, for sure. We tried to go down, but it wasnít open much this year. We try to go down once a year at least. Iíve probably been on there 10 times in my 17 years in Ottawa.
What's the story behind your jersey number, #11? (Oona Huoponen, Oulu, Finland)
I had #63 in training camp my first year [with Ottawa]. Me and a Finnish guy named Antti TŲrmšnen both made the team as rookies. The trainer came up to me and said, ďIíll give you the choice to choose first. We have #11 or #22.Ē I picked #11, and Antti got #22. So thatís how it came about. I wore #11 as a soccer player, and thatís why I wanted it. Thereís no other story behind it.