I saw some of Off The Record last night, and one of his guests (who kept saying “As a Leaf fan…”) questioned the leadership abilities of Daniel Alfredsson. He even went so far as to call him a “punk”. Two former Senators players were also on the panel, and disagreed vehemently with him, saying that Alfredsson not only called his teammates out in the locker room when necessary (which is his job as captain), but backed it up on the ice.
Maybe it’s because I don’t hate the Senators as most Leaf fans do, but I have nothing but respect for Alfredsson. He’s obviously an excellent player, and I think he’s a great captain as well. A couple of years ago when Alfredsson pretended to throw his stick into the crowd during a game in Toronto (as Mats Sundin had the week before), a lot of Toronto fans called him out, saying that it was classless or taunting or something. But Sundin and Alfredsson are friends off the ice, and I didn’t see it as taunting Sundin, though maybe he was taunting the crowd (something opposing players routinely do). I thought it was kind of funny, actually.
I have a lot of respect for Sundin as well, but Alfredsson has led his team to the Stanley Cup finals, something Sundin has never done for the Leafs. Then again, it’s not Sundin’s fault that the Leafs management has consistently surrounded him with substandard players (OK, maybe other than Alex Mogilny). If Sundin was playing with the likes of Spezza and Heatley instead of Jonus Hoglund and Dmitri Khristich, things might have been different.
The same guy who questioned Alfie also suggested that the Leafs not bring back Sundin next year because there would be no point. While I see where he’s coming from (if the Leafs do some serious rebuilding this summer, which it seems that they will be, there’s no way they’re going to be contending next year), I think bringing Mats back would be a good thing for the young kids that will be playing for the Leafs over the next couple of years. First off, he’s their best player. Secondly, some veteran leadership for the young players is an absolute requirement when a team is rebuilding, and the Stajans and Steens and even Antropovs of the world just aren’t going to do it.