Red Wings honored to be part of Alfredsson celebration

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Ottawa, Ontario — Another night, another ceremony the Red Wings were able to witness.

Thursday the team was able to catch former Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson’s No. 11 raised to the rafters at Canadian Tire Centre.

Alfredsson spent the 2013-14 season with the Red Wings, his last in the NHL (team-leading 49 points in 68 games), but he enjoyed 17 glorious seasons with the Ottawa Senators where he was the face of the franchise.

Coach Jeff Blashill, and Alfredsson’s former teammates with the Red Wings, were glad to be on hand for Alfredsson’s special evening.

“A big time gentleman,” said Blashill of Alfredsson. “I was a big fan of his when I watched — I don’t remember the playoff series but it was near the end (of Alfredsson’s time) in Ottawa — and he just kind of took the team over. He said, ‘we’re going to win this series.’ He had that ability in him.”

Blashill didn’t coach Alfredsson but got to know the player after he retired.

“He was excellent, the time he spent in Detroit,” Blashill said. “It’s cool we get to… see it (the celebration) and see one of the greats.”

Henrik Zetterberg put Alfredsson in Sweden’s Big Four of Alfredsson, Nicklas Lidstrom, Mats Sundin and Peter Forsberg.

Zetterberg was able to be a teammate with those four legends on Sweden’s Olympic gold medal-winning team in 2006.

“It was their last chance to win something big with the national team,” Zetterberg said. “We found a way. It was very special.

“For us to be part of (Alfredsson’s) celebration is something that we will remember. Alfie was only here for one year but he stayed in the area for another couple years. For us Swedes, we spent a lot of time with him and his family and for me growing up in Sweden,  he showed me a lot of things both on and off the ice.”

Said Niklas Kronwall: “His career, numbers, all the things he accomplished speak for itself every since he stepped on the ice in Ottawa. He’s not only a great player but a great person, a great ambassador not only for Ottawa, but for the game of hockey.”

Goaltender Jared Coreau grew up just outside of Ottawa and, growing up, was a fan of Alfredsson.

“Everyone speaks highly of Daniel Alfressson,” Coreau said. “I’ve never heard anyone speak poorly. He worked hard every day in practice and in the games.

Wings' Coreau banking on 'home' support in Ottawa start

“I was a rookie (in the organization) when he played in Detroit and he talked to me no differently than if he was talking to Henrik Zetterberg. That’s something that stands out.”

New optimism

Have the Red Wings turned any sort of corner concerning their power play?

When Thomas Vanek scored in the third period Tuesday with a man advantage, it ended a stretch of 28 consecutive power plays without a goal.

Blashill felt the power play has been effective the last two games.

“Part of that is getting one and then getting another one and building momentum,” Blashill said. “We went through a stretch on the penalty kill where it struggled and one kill at a time and all of a sudden we put together a really good stretch.

“The same can work on the power play. You put a game together where you score and maybe the next night and you create momentum.”

Ice chips

Riley Sheahan was a healthy scratch among the forwards Thursday in Ottawa, with Tomas Jurco returning to the lineup.

Sheahan has been a major disappointment all season.

In 35 games Sheahan has yet to score a goal, with six assists, and tied with Frans Nielsen for a team-worst minus-14 rating.

Jurco, himself, has been looking to provide offense.

Since returning from a back injury, Jurco has yet to earn a point in nine games with a minus-3 rating.

… Defenseman Mike Green (upper body) is hoping to return next week during the Red Wings’ West Coast trip.

Green was hit by Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler (Livonia)  Dec. 17 and Thursday missed a fourth consecutive game.

“I don’t want to be out, you wish this wasn’t the case, but you have to take the right protocol,” Green said.

… Blashill, on forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who Wednesday was sent back to Grand Rapids after being cleared of his high ankle sprain: “Bert has to go down and get playing and hopefully get him to a spot where he’s ready to take somebody’s job by how good he plays down there.

“Let’s give him a chance to get playing and get confident.”