Alfredsson set to speak Thursday

Daniel Alfredsson will say his goodbye to Ottawa on Thursday at 11 at the Royal Ottawa Hospital, where he has played a big part in helping to call attention to mental illness.

Alfredsson set to speak Thursday
Daniel Alfredsson talks to the media as the Ottawa Senator players have meetings with the coaches and clean out their lockers. (Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen)

Daniel Alfredsson will say his goodbye to Ottawa on Thursday with an 11 a.m. press conference at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, where he has played a big part in helping call attention to mental illness.

Fans will be hoping he gives a more thorough reason for his decision to leave Ottawa after 17 seasons and sign a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings.

He is scheduled to make a public statement, followed by a question-and-answer session.

The main reason Alfredsson, 40, offered during a July 5 conference call arranged by the Red Wings is that he wants to win a Stanley Cup before he retires and thought he’d have a better chance of doing it in Detroit.

“With Ottawa, I think they’re getting closer and closer or definitely going in the right direction and has a really bright future in front of them,” he said. “But at this stage of my career … I don’t have the time to wait for that.”

He said his departure wasn’t about money, though he suggested pretty clearly it was by implying the Red Wings are committed to winning while the Senators are happy simply to be competitive.

“Everybody knows Detroit’s goals are always to be at the top of the game and to win championships and they’ve done that in the past,” he said. “Just to stay in Ottawa and enjoy my last year there and retire as an Ottawa Senator probably would have been a great ending, too, but I’m a competitive person and I wouldn’t have felt the same drive, sort of being the mentor and playing it out.”

In an exclusive interview with the Citizen Friday, owner Eugene Melnyk said Alfredsson was asking for too much money. To pay him what he wanted would have prevented the Senators from acquiring another top-six winger. They wound up trading for the Anaheim Ducks’ Bobby Ryan hours after learning Alfredsson would sign elsewhere.

However, general manager Bryan Murray more or less contradicted Melnyk a few days later when he told NHL.com that there would have been a way to afford both Alfredsson and Ryan.

Alfredsson signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Red Wings.

Ryan has two seasons remaining on a contract that pays him $5.5625 million per year, but carries an NHL salary-cap charge of $5.1 million

“We do have an in-house budget that we’re trying to stay very close to, so I think (Melnyk) was just a little harder on himself in that regard in terms of what we could do and couldn’t do,” Murray said. “I’m not saying if (Alfredsson) stayed that we would have absolutely gone ahead and made the Bobby Ryan trade, but we had certainly talked about that scenario happening, as well.”

Alfredsson is also said to be miffed that the Senators tried to lowball him with their first offer, reported to be in the $4-4.5 million range.

By the time Melnyk gave Murray the blank cheque to sign Alfredsson, it was too late. Alfredsson had already decided to go to Detroit.

He will move his entire family there next week and join fellow Swedes Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson, Niklas Kronwall, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Jonas Gustavsson, and Jonathan Ericsson as a Red Wing.

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