(Reuters) - Daniel Alfredsson was back in an Ottawa Senators uniform on Thursday, the longtime captain signing a ceremonial one-day contract with the National Hockey League club before announcing his retirement.
Alfredsson spent all but one of his 18 NHL seasons with the Senators, including a run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2007, and remains the Canadian capital’s most popular athlete.
The 41-year-old Swede will take part in the Senators warm-up ahead of Thursday’s game versus the New York Islanders before taking his final bows in front of what is sure to be an adoring home crowd.
“I never believed my career entitled me to any special treatment,” Alfredsson said during a new conference. “Bibi (Alfredsson’s wife) and I both agreed this was the right thing to do and give us a chance to say thank you to the people and fans of Ottawa.
“So here we are, today I will officially retire as an Ottawa Senator and another new chapter will begin tonight.”
While the graceful Swede’s trophy case contains and Olympic gold medal and plenty of individual honors, including the 1996 Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, he ends his career without having won the Stanley Cup.
After 17 seasons with the Senators it was the dream of having his name engraved on the NHL’s championship trophy that led Alfredsson to sign a deal with the Detroit Red Wings last season for what was one last shot at the Stanley Cup.
“Nearly four years ago my body started sending me signals that all these years of hockey had a cost,” said Alfredsson. “My back began to act up and I began to have the issues a body has after year’s of physical work.
“In the back of my mind I still knew the clock was ticking.
“Last year my body began to complain once more. I worked hard to rehab my back this summer so I could play another year but three weeks ago I realized it is time to retire.”
Alfredsson, who was Ottawa’s captain for 13 seasons, exits as the Senators’ all-time leader in games played (1,178), goals (426), assists (682) and points (1,108).
His 444 career goals and 1,157 career are the second most among all Swedish-born NHL players.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue