Friday, 5 July 2013

It Was Going To End Eventually

While the news was shocking, the end seemed a lot closer than what a lot of people are realizing. Daniel Alfredsson was a fixture on the Ottawa Senators roster, and there is no doubt that he is probably the most recognized Senator of all-time. But he's no spring chicken any longer, and this exit was closer than a lot of people seem to believe. The fact that he went to a newly-realigned division rival will sting, but Daniel Alfredsson has allowed the Ottawa Senators to evolve into something new by moving on. That's something that was sorely needed in the nation's capital.

The Senators have always been Daniel Alfredsson's team since the late-1990s. Reporters went to his locker first after games for reactions and comments. He was the face of the franchise. He sat in on press conferences before big games and after big games. He was the undisputed leader of the Ottawa Senators, and he led them to one Stanley Cup Final appearance where they unfortunately feel short. But he was a constant performer, a consistent scorer, and loved by the fans and media in Ottawa.

In short, his leaving for greener pastures hurts. I get that.

But the thing is that he was bound to leave after a season or two more at best. And while all of his contributions to the team and the community cannot be replaced, no one is asking for him to be replaced either. He was destined to leave at some point either through trade, free agency, or retirement. The fact that he decided to play one more year is meaningless because, depending on the fortunes of the Ottawa Senators in this upcoming season, he may have been gone by the trade deadline.

Daniel Alfredsson will not be forgotten in the nation's capital. But it was time for him to step aside and allow this team to evolve further as the younger players begin to establish themselves as the new stars of the Ottawa Senators. One of Jason Spezza or Chris Phillips will lead this team into this new era where players like Erik Karlsson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Kyle Turris carry this team for the long haul. The changing of the guard, so to speak, shouldn't be a time of disappointment for fans in Ottawa. It should mark the beginning of a new era where a new star will step up and grab the reigns to direct this team to new heights.

Bryan Murray recognized this fact. He went out and made a major deal to bring in a guy who can fill the scoring void left by Alfredsson in a big way. The deal he made to acquire Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks was intelligent, and it signals to the rest of the guys in the room that he still wants to win and recognizes that the potential to win is still alive with his roster.

Ryan has already earned a Stanley Cup ring, and knows the rigors of what it takes to earn a Stanley Cup. While the price that Murray paid to get Ryan was high, he's bringing in a four-time 30-goal scorer, and a great finisher to play alongside the playmakers in Spezza and Turris. And he's just 26 years-old. Plug him in on a line with Spezza and Michalek or on the second-line with Turris and Conacher, and the Senators have couple of bonafide scoring lines.

Again, I know that Alfredsson is fan favorite in Ottawa and that he had an immense following of devoted fans who wore his jerseys to every game, but, at some point, this was going to end. At some point, he was going to leave. The fact that Bryan Murray had it happen to him and to the Senators now allowed him to fill the void with a player in Bobby Ryan who is young, can score goals in bunches, and may have more to go before reaching his full potential. Alfredsson's leaving the Senators may have allowed this team to evolve into something more, but only time will tell if Bobby Ryan will become the new face of the franchise.

Time was always against Alfredsson when it come to playing for the Senators after he turned 40. When he decided to leave, it set other things in motion. That's called evolution, and this team needed to change if it looked to move forward in the Eastern Conference. Fans of the Ottawa Senators should be thankful it happened now in terms of getting back a dynamic player in Bobby Ryan who, potentially, will make this team better in the long run.

I wish Daniel Alfredsson nothing but good luck in Detroit for the year or two he's there. Bobby Ryan, though, will be in Ottawa a lot longer.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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