DETROIT — Daniel Alfredsson was doing his best to keep his emotions in check Wednesday morning.
“I really don’t know what to expect,” Alfredsson said after his Detroit Red Wings skated in advance of Wednesday night’s game against his old Ottawa Senators teammates.
Alfredsson acknowledged it will be different playing against so many friends, but said he was trying to follow his normal routine. The end goal remains the same as always: Getting a victory.
“I do have a lot of good friends on the other side and everybody knows when you play against those guys, there are bragging rights to be had, no question,” he said. “I have so many memories, good memories from my time there, that I cherish, but I’ve been treated extremely well here, this is also a great organization.”
As big a game as it is for Alfredsson, he was doing everything he could to deflect attention away from himself.
That was impossible, however.
Over in the Senators dressing room following their pre-game skate, the sentiments were similar.
“I think he’s going to think it’s going to feel weird during the day,” said Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson, who went to dinner with Alfredsson and his clan Tuesday night. “He has been here for so long, he’s probably going to overthink some stuff, but like everyone else, he’s a professional and as soon as the puck drops, there are going to be no issues in focussing on the game.”
Jason Spezza says it will be odd, but figures that will disappear as the game goes on.
“It’s weird to see him in a Wings jersey, for sure,” he said. “We got to catch up a bit (Wednesday) morning. It was nice to see him. We played 10 years together. Good friendships. It’s tough to see a guy you’ve played with for so long leave, but you’re playing against guys you used to play with a lot. Chris Kelly (of the Boston Bruins) is one of my best friends and I’ve played against him. It was weird, but you get over it pretty quick.”
Craig Anderson will start in goal for the Senators, while Mika Zibanejad will be inserted into the lineup, playing on a fourth line with Derek Grant and Erik Condra. The big change on defence is that Patrick Wiercioch will be a healthy scratch, with Joe Corvo taking his spot against Detroit.