Senators’ support of Alfredsson’s HHOF bid signals cultural shift in organization

Ottawa Senators Co-founder Cyril Leader was 6,000 feet in the air on a hot air balloon in France when former Senator captain Daniel Alfredson was announced to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Anecdotes of the leader he pointed out twitter “Where were you when Alfie entered the hall?” The segment seems to be a fitting metaphor for the recent cultural changes in Senators.

It feels as if the sky is the limit of where these good vibrations may lead. Next, will general manager Pierre Dorion sign the marquee player to bring Ottawa to the playoff spot for the first time in six seasons?

Given the changes in the atmosphere around the Senator franchise over the last few weeks, anything seems possible.

Some of the development:

• On June 23, Senator and his new corporate partner (under the umbrella of Capital Sports Development Inc.) were cited as a priority bid to build a new NHL Arena in Lebreton Flats, west of Parliamentary Hill. .. 2019.

• This week, Alfredson was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame after qualifying since 2017. And for the first time in five years, the Senator franchise officially endorsed Alfredson as a candidate.

• On June 1, Senator displayed a rainbow theme on the team logo when announcing the Pride Month Initiative. This is a move that club staff may not have been able to comfortably pursue a year ago. Since taking ownership of the club, Anna and Olivia Melnyk have informed them that they want a more progressive approach to the team’s website and content channels.

• In early April, Senators, in collaboration with OSEG, CFL Red Blacks and OHL Ottawa 67 owners, began bidding to host the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa. The bid was unsuccessful, but it was the first joint initiative of two professional Ottawa sports organizations in years.

Go on it. It’s no wonder that Ottawa’s fan base engages with the team in a way that is less than years old.

Fans are not very proud of their franchise, except for the progress and excitement of young senators such as Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Tim Stetzle and Drake Batherson. In fact, the gallows humor associated with being a Sens fan led to the “Sickos” campaign. This brought a kind of twisted joy to maintaining Sens followers despite the darkness that pervades the team.

Today, the shining sunshine is shining through those dark clouds.

Alfredson was not only welcomed by HHOF, but also symbolically welcomed by the franchise family.

For about five years, both Alfredson and the leader have been estranged from the hockey club. This is a painful scenario that took place under the administration of Senator owner Eugene Melnik. The leader, who was president and chief executive officer of the hockey team, was fired by Melnik in early 2017 on the day former GM Brian Murray was honored with the club’s “Ring of Honor.”

For a long time, Alfredson has barely set foot in the Canadian Tire Center. Alfredson attended in February 2020 when his longtime teammate Chris Phillips retired from fourth place at the CTC, but he stayed in the background and left the arena without talking to reporters. I did. It all felt very awkward.

A week after Melnick died in late March, Alfredson returned to the skating rink with members of the Swedish Embassy to celebrate the Swedish heritage night in a Senator match. The image spoke volume.

In a zoom call with Ottawa Media on Tuesday, Alfredson talked about the importance of Brian Murray forming a bridge between Alfie and ownership. Murray died in August 2017, but a few years ago, despite a contract stalemate in 2013, Alfie and Melnick were able to stay in the same room again.

“I don’t think it was the best relationship when I left for Detroit,” Alfredson said of moving from Sens to Detroit in 2013 and spending his last season as a player.

“Brian Murray really allowed me to come back and work on the team and retire as Senator Ottawa (2014), I think it healed a lot of wounds, but we’re still at the stage where you are. I know there wasn’t, it was an open relationship.

“But it’s sometimes life and we’re here today – it’s different and I’m very happy that it is.”

Alfie goes on the high road again. He admits that his father, Hasse, and his mother, Margareta, maintained his position. Hasse told him – “Being a good hockey player is not enough, you still have to be a good person.”

Giving back to the Ottawa community came naturally to him. He calls the connection with the fans and inhabitants here “organic”, but in Sweden it was not common to engage in philanthropy and uphold the cause. He learned it here.

He can feel much more comfortable to be the face of the franchise again.

Melnik was justified in saving the Senator franchise in 2003, and he did some good things as an owner. But the feeling of liberation since ownership was passed to his two young daughters and the board is clear.

Managers have more freedom to manage what they think is appropriate, without having to worry about being asked or called.

President Anthony LeBlanc regularly appeared on radio and television to help Senator Lebreton Flats bid successfully with CFO Erin Crow. In his honor, Eugene Melnik confirmed that the Senator had made the bid to the State Capital Commission before he died.

LeBlanc not only helped coordinate Alfredson’s support through the team’s official website, but also Senator #AlfieToTheHall The campaign was launched by super fans Corey Meehan and Stephen MacDonald.

To get more attention to Alfredson’s Hall of Fame status, Mihan and McDonald contacted the leader. Not only did the leader support the initiative, but he also invited former Sense staff, Craig Medallia, to put together compelling videos and online content.

Currently, much of Ottawa’s media – This writer is included – For several years, he has warned Alfredson’s candidacy for hockey halls. But the timing of this campaign was right, and just as important as it was about who was involved.

Did the campaign ultimately make a difference? Alfredson himself was uncertain and said he felt his own career was sufficient to accept him. But he was impressed by the feeling of his efforts. Fan-Thanks for his efforts in the community, especially in the field of mental health, as well as his hockey resume.

They all have the potential to return to the fold with some ability. Alfredson says he accepts the idea of ​​a position on the team, but I’m not sure what that comes with.

“I used to want to avoid spending too much time with my young family (my wife Bibi and my four sons), but now my kids are getting older,” Alfredson said on Tuesday. Told to.

Medallia, who created such great content for the Senator during the most difficult times, needs to extend the red carpet to return to his previous work on the team.

Leaders are actively involved in the world of local businesses, but to some extent they belong to the Senator’s family, even as nominal leaders.

Regardless of how these important connections in the past are re-engaged, it’s exciting to see them as part of the present and future of this organization, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary as an NHL franchise.

“I think everything is different now than it was five years ago,” Alfredson said.

Who knows for sure. Whether it’s France’s 6,000 feet high or Ottawa’s ground boots, the sky is the limit for Senator Ottawa and his fans.

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