What's buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Spinning the split: Senators, Daniel Alfredsson share their versions after franchise icon chooses Red Wings

Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Yahoo Sports

It sounds so classy and clean, befitting Daniel Alfredsson’s image as the longtime captain of the Senators and an icon in Ottawa. After 18 years and 17 seasons with the same franchise, Alfie left as a free agent Friday and joined the Detroit Red Wings saying he wants a Stanley Cup before he retires.

View gallery


Daniel Alfredsson's legacy in Ottawa was tarnished by the manner of his departure. (Reuters)

But breaking down the timeline and reading between the lines, it wasn’t that simple. It was about money and ego, a messy divorce. The Senators didn’t want to pay Alfredsson’s price, and he was too proud to beg. They took him for granted, and he explored his options. Not only did he leave, signing a one-year deal with a $3.5 million salary and $2 million in bonuses, he left for a team that will be a division rival starting next season and declared it had a better chance to win, a slap in the face.

Even though the Senators acquired Bobby Ryan later – replacing a 40-year-old right winger in decline with a 26-year-old right winger entering his prime at lower cap hit, while adding left winger Clarke MacArthur, too – they screwed up. They cannot patch the hole in the fabric of the community in which Alfredsson was once woven.

Even though Alfredsson said all the right things – that this was “selfish,” that the fans should be angry and resentful, that it would have been easy to retire in Ottawa, that he wanted to be more than a mentor and challenge himself – he screwed up, too. He sacrificed so much goodwill because of a petty disagreement. He risked his legacy when the odds of winning the Cup in Detroit next year aren’t much better than they would have been in Ottawa, if at all.

“I …”

Alfredsson half-laughed as he started to speak in a conference all with reporters, realizing the understatement he was making in mid-sentence.

“… have made a very difficult decision.”

[Related: Alfredsson makes 'selfish decision,' likes Detroit's Cup chances]

Listen to Alfredsson and Senators GM Bryan Murray break down what happened. Listen closely.

Murray came to his press conference with dates written on a sheet of paper, prepared for the PR battle. He said he met with Alfredsson before his captain went home to Sweden, giving him time and space to make a decision on retirement. He told Alfredsson about the potential Ryan trade. He met with Alfredsson’s agent, J.P. Barry, on Saturday and that was “the one and only time money was talked about.” They talked about one- and two-year proposals.

“One of the numbers that was at me, I said, ‘That’s not really the number we can go to. It’s not a fair number, I don’t think,’ ” Murray said. “In turn, I made a different proposal, and he said he would take it to Alfie.”

Don’t want to make too much out of it, but here that is again: Murray not only rejected Barry’s number, he said it was unfair.

Now here’s Alfredsson:

“I felt a week ago that I was not going to go anywhere,” Alfredsson said. “If I was playing, I was playing in Ottawa. And then our negotiations went a few days, and I just started thinking.”

Murray said he talked to Barry on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. The Senators have an internal budget of reportedly $50 million, below the 2013-14 salary cap of $64.3 million, but Murray said owner Eugene Melnyk was willing to add Ryan’s $5.1 million cap hit and write Alfredsson a blank check. Melnyk told him: “Spend whatever it is and get Alfie done.”

View gallery


Senators GM Bryan Murray. (AP)

“I was convinced that it was a matter of one phone call,” Murray said. “[Barry] called me the one day and said, ‘Tell me your best price, Bryan.’ And I said, ‘That’s not the way to negotiate this deal. The way to negotiate this deal is, ask Alfie what it’s going to take to play in Ottawa. Tell me the number, and we’ll get a deal done.’ That was my statement to him, and I never heard back.”

Why didn’t Murray hear back? Well, why didn’t Murray offer Alfredsson what he had asked for in the first place? And why didn’t Alfredsson give the same number again or something lower - or decide to test the market with the intention of giving the Senators a chance to match?

Both Murray and Alfredsson knew the Senators had a budget. Both knew the Senators didn’t want to meet Alfredsson’s demands. Neither wanted to be the bad guy. Alfredsson didn’t want to negotiate against himself, had an opportunity to talk to teams during the new two-day interview period and began to look around. His eye started to wander.

“If this is my last season, I don’t want to change anything that’s going on there,” Alfredsson said. “I don’t want to demand Bryan or Eugene to … They’re going to have to make a push for me here to go for it. I think there’s too many good things going on. They stay the course in what they’re doing there. The torch is going to have to be passed at one time pretty soon, anyway, and that’s pretty much my reasoning for deciding to go and look somewhere else.”

[More: Senators acquire power forward Bobby Ryan from Ducks]

Murray said he called Barry four times from his office Thursday. Finally, he sent a text message, saying if he wanted to talk, to call him at a particular number after 8:30 p.m.

“When I got nervous was yesterday,” Murray said, “when I kept calling and calling and there was no answer.”

He walked into his cottage at 8:40 p.m., and the phone rang. It was not Barry. It was Alfie.

“I said, ‘Uh-oh. Something’s going on,’ ” he said.

Murray said they spoke for about 30 minutes. Alfredsson told him it wasn’t about money but a chance to win the Cup, that he was considering the Red Wings and the Boston Bruins, both division rivals next season. Murray argued that the Senators gave him a chance, too, and offered a contract with an out. Alfredsson could pick a date in December or January, and if he didn’t like where the Sens were headed, they would trade him to the team of his choice. Alfredsson said no. He didn’t want to join a new team during the season. He wanted to start fresh. Murray said he told him: “I know I’m being a little selfish, Bryan, but this is what I want to try to do.”

“It was for me a devastating conversation, a disappointing one, hard to swallow like it is for a lot of people,” Murray said. “But I understand a veteran player that hasn’t won and wants to win and sees a better opportunity. Whether we did the right thing or not, we said, ‘Hey, Alfie, I discourage you from doing it.’ I can talk about Ottawa and all that. But bottom line, he wanted to try it, and who can not agree with that decision if he feels it’s the right one. He deserves the opportunity to do what he did.”

The Red Wings have a long history of bringing in older stars at the end of their careers, to varying degrees of success. Alfredsson said he would be more energized by going somewhere new, and he should be comfortable in Detroit, because the Wings have a lot of Swedish players he knows and play the same possess-the-puck, push-the-pace style the Senators do. Sens coach Paul MacLean used to work for Wings coach Mike Babcock.

“With Ottawa, I think they’re getting closer and closer and definitely going in the right direction and have some really bright future in front of them, but at this stage in my career, there’s not much left,” Alfredsson said. “I don’t have the time to wait for that. Tough decision to make, and it still hasn’t really sunk in, but I feel I’m doing this for myself. I feel this is right for me. I really like the fit with the Detroit Red Wings.”

[Also: Bruins finally win Jarome Iginla sweepstakes]

But would Alfredsson really have been less energized in Ottawa? Could he be more comfortable anywhere other than Ottawa? Will he actually have a better shot at the Cup than he did in Ottawa, and if so, why did he pick Detroit over Boston? Who has the best chance to win a championship next season is a fierce debate, at best.

Did an 18-year, 17-season relationship unravel because of a lack of communication about money – over maybe a million dollars?

The Senators will be OK. They paid a hefty price for Ryan, sending the Ducks a first-round pick and two good prospects. Ryan has scored more than 30 goals four times and is signed for two more years at a cap hit $400,000 less than Alfredsson’s will be next season. As Alfredsson said, the torch has to be passed sometime, anyway.

Alfredsson will be OK, too. Lots of icons leave their teams at the end of their careers. It does not change what they did for those teams. Time often heals wounds, and they go back to be beloved again. Alfredsson will continue his charitable works in Ottawa.

But he was supposed to play with Ryan in Ottawa, not against him. He was supposed to retire in Ottawa. He was supposed to transition into the front office in Ottawa. He was supposed to be a Senator forever. Yet he is moving his family to Detroit for one year, and he doesn’t know if he will return, and it doesn’t make much sense.

“Ottawa is always a special place,” Alfredsson said. “I’m not going to commit to anything.”

Those sentences shouldn’t go together. Sadly, they do.


Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
Sergei Bobrovsky's 2-year deal another win for Blue Jackets
Jets' Tobias Enstrom attacked, robbed in Sweden
Maple Leafs retain Tyler Bozak, add UFA winger David Clarkson
Nathan Horton lands in Columbus with $37.1M pact

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (79)

Recommended for You

  • Adrian Peterson Has A Quietly Terrible Contract, And Cutting Him Would Save The Vikings A Ton Of Money

    The Minnesota Vikings reversed course and decided Wednesday to ban Adrian Peterson from the team   until his legal issues are resolved.  The Vikings put him on the exempt/commissioner's permission list — which will keep him under contract while barring him from team activities. According to Ian…

    Business Insider
  • DeSean Jackson texts LeSean McCoy that he's playing in Eagles-Redskins game

    DeSean Jackson texts LeSean McCoy that he's playing in Eagles-Redskins game DeSean Jackson expects to play against the Eagles this week. Former Philadelphia Eagles and current Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson really expects to play this week.

    SB Nation56 mins ago
  • WARNING: Graphic photos of Giancarlo Stanton's face

    WARNING: Graphic photos of Giancarlo Stanton's face   Giancarlo Stanton showed his face Tuesday, and it looked a lot better than it did Thursday after an errant pitch struck him there. Even though the"before" photo is pretty disturbing, the "after" pic

    Big League Stew
    Wed, Sep 17
    4:10 PM PDT
    Miami at NY Mets
    Preview Game
  • Why boxing stars like Floyd Mayweather want to avoid Gennady Golovkin

    Gennady Golovkin peered out of a window on the south side of a penthouse lounge in the Mandalay Bay Resort, staring at a lush golf course that the high-rolling visitors to this gambling capital eagerly fork over $300 or more a round to play. Asked if he played golf, the middleweight champion…

    Yahoo Sports
  • View

    'Hawaii Five-0' Season 5 Premiere Screening (19 photos)

    'Hawaii Five-0' Season 5 Premiere ScreeningThousands of Oahu residents and visitors flocked Queen's Surf Beach in Waikiki Saturday, Sept. 12, 2014, in Honolulu. They gathered in Waikiki to watch the season five premiere of "Hawaii Five-0." Grace Park

    Yahoo TV
  • Week 3 Flames: Joique, Romo highlight this week's under-started stars

    Week 3 Flames: Joique, Romo highlight this week's under-started stars Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, un-obvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than

    Roto Arcade
  • Lexi Thompson's newest photo shoot will catch your attention

    Lexi Thompson first entered the public consciousness at 12 years old when she qualified for the U.S. Now at 19, Thompson has set LPGA records as their youngest champion (since eclipsed by Lydia Ko) and won a major championship. Thompson dons a bikini in what would probably be considered in golf…

    Devil Ball Golf
  • Jameis Winston allegedly shouted an obscene phrase in the FSU student union

    For nearly a year, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has been exhaustive telling everyone who would listen — and that's a lot of us — that quarterback Jameis Winston is a really mature guy. The Heisman Trophy winner’s latest act of immaturity came Tuesday when he reportedly stood up on a table in…

    Dr. Saturday
  • Adrian Peterson placed on restricted list

    Adrian Peterson is officially back in limbo.  While most of the country was asleep, the news came out early Wednesday: Peterson has been placed on the exempt list, which means he'll stay away from the Vikings (for both team activities and games) while Peterson's child abuse charges are addressed. …

    Roto Arcade
  • WWE vs. NFL: The Monday night war that isn't

    Last night's episode of Monday Night RAW played out like a game of RISK. There is no such thing as competition with the NFL because, well, when you have just 16 games per year, not including playoffs, each one of them is a big deal. Especially on Monday night, when most pigskin patrons don't have…

    SB Nation
  • Play

    Knile Davis needs to fly off of the waiver wire

    Rotoworld: Adam Levitan joins Jenna Corrado to discuss the key pickups that need to be made off of the waiver wire heading into Week 3. On the top of Levitan's list is Chiefs' RB Knile Davis, who would get the start if Jamaal Charles can't go.

    NBC Sports
  • Slash burns Panthers for then-NFL QB rushing record

    The Steelers have lost just once in five games against the Panthers. Facing Carolina for the first time, Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart gave Pittsburgh a 14-9 second-quarter lead when he scampered for an electrifying 80-yard touchdown run. It was the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in…

    SB Nation
  • Adrian Peterson barred from Minnesota Vikings; Out vs. New Orleans Saints

    The Vikings have barred Adrian Peterson fro mthe team, meaning he'll miss this week vs. the Saints. The Minnesota Vikings originally activated All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson for Sunday's contest vs. the New Orleans Saints.

    SB Nation
  • UFC Fight Night 52 complete fighter breakdown, Roy 'Big Country' Nelson edition

    UFC Fight Night 52 complete fighter breakdown, Roy 'Big Country' Nelson edition MMAmania.com resident fighter analyst Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC Fight Night 52 headliner Roy Nelson, who looks to out-brawl Mark Hunt this Saturday night (Sept. 20, 2014) at…

    SB Nation
  • Yankees' Girardi and Rays' Maddon at odds after Jeter hit by pitch

    New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the Tampa Bay Rays should stop pitching inside if they're going to keep hitting his players. Rays manager Joe Maddon says thanks for the advice, but no thanks. Girardi got his Italian Irish up Tuesday night after Yankees captain Derek Jeter was hit on the…

    Big League Stew
    Wed, Sep 17
    4:10 PM PDT
    NY Yankees at Tampa Bay
    Preview Game
  • Four Patriots Nominated for Hall of Fame

    Four Patriots Nominated for Hall of Fame The initial list of Hall of Fame nominees is out, and there are a few familiar faces on it. Along with the start of the 2014 season comes the beginning of the official selection process for The Pro Football

    SB Nation
  • Week 3 Ranks: Defense/Special Teams

    Week 3 Ranks: Defense/Special Teams More Week 3 Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DST The following list comprises the top 20 team defense/special team rankings for Week 1 of each Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert. The list is ordered by the overall top 20

    Yahoo Sports
  • Dwight Howard has license suspended for running red lights, being dumb

    Rockets center Dwight Howard may play in Houston now, but he is still paying for his years in Orlando, getting his license suspended for failing to pay his red light tickets in Orlando. In a more lighthearted twist, Rockets center has gotten his license suspended for his failure to pay a red light…

    SB Nation