Turris on Alfredsson: “I think he should be extremely respected when he comes back”

It’ll be easy to find someone to plug into the right wing spot that Daniel Alfredsson occupied for the last 17 years.

Turris on Alfredsson: “I think he should be extremely respected when he comes back”
Kyle Turris of the Ottawa Senators practices at the Bell Sensplex in Ottawa, August 01, 2013. Photo by Jean Levac/OTTAWA CITIZEN

It’ll be easy to find someone to plug into the right wing spot that Daniel Alfredsson occupied for the last 17 years.

Maybe it’ll be Bobby Ryan, maybe it’ll be someone else. It doesn’t matter. Someone will be found. Hockey players are replaceable.

But it’s not going to be so easy to replace who Daniel Alfredsson was as a person and what he meant to his teammates.

Especially to Kyle Turris.

Since the 23-year-old Turris arrived here in a trade from the Phoenix Coyotes two years ago, he and the 40-year-old Daniel Alfredsson have been together as linemates maybe 90 per cent of the time, forming a close bond on the ice.

Off the ice, they formed an even closer bond, with Turris learning through Alfredsson’s example what it takes to be a modern professional athlete.

Ottawa will be the lesser without Alfredsson, but fans owe him nothing but the most gracious applause when he returns next season as a Detroit Red Wing.

“He is probably the guy I’ve looked up to the most the last four, five years of my hockey career,” Turris said Thursday, after a midsummer skate at the Sensplex. “He was such an amazing person.

“What he taught me on the ice was one thing, but off the ice was something else altogether. He was incredible.

“I think he should be extremely respected coming back (to Ottawa), and hopefully the fans appreciate everything he’s done and don’t judge him for this one decision.

“I think when it’s all said and done, he’s at a point where he’s kind of earned the right to do what he wants.”

Like everyone, Turris was “shocked” at Alfredsson’s decision to sign with the Red Wings.

They’ve since been in touch via email, and Turris’ fiancé Julie has talked to Alfredsson’s wife Bibi, so information has been exchanged that way.

Alfredsson had been captain of the Senators since the 1999-2000 season, when Alexei Yashin was stripped of the C for refusing to honour his contract.

So who takes over will be the source of much speculation and probably a question that coach Paul MacLean will be asked every day until a new leader is installed.

The Senators are fortunate in that they have a number strong candidates for the job but they’ll be looking to fill big skates, said Turris.

“We have (Jason Spezza) and (Chris Phillips) and they’re going to do a good job filling that hole that he left,” he said.

“But how he carried himself on and off the ice, how everybody looked to him, how he just controlled the room without saying anything, and then on the ice, just how skilled he was, and how much fun he made the game.

“You guys always saw him joking around after practice, playing keep-away and little things like that that you have to remember to do, and he always made sure the atmosphere was fun.”

So when they line against each other next winter, it’s going to feel just a little bit funny.

“I’m not going to lie, it was a complete privilege and honour to play with him for two years,” said Turris.

“I’ll think back to it for the rest of my life, what he taught me and how much fun it was playing with him, and I want to wish him the best of luck in Detroit.”

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