OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson may not have been the most vocal captain, but his teammates say his actions spoke volumes.
Alfredsson returned to Ottawa on Thursday to announce his retirement from the NHL after 18 seasons, 17 of which were spent with the Senators.
As news of Alfredsson's impending retirement spread over the past week, teammates from near and far shared their unique perspectives on what made the former Senators captain special.
"He wasn't a loud guy, but he had so much respect from everyone," said Magnus Arvedson, who played six seasons with Alfredsson in Ottawa. "He was one of the hardest working players, if not the hardest worker. He cared about everyone and wanted to make sure every player was happy. He was trustworthy, smart and just a solid person so people wanted to play for him."
"He loved to lead by example, but he knew when to stand up and speak," added former Senators defenceman Wade Redden. "He somehow knew when something needed to be said."
In 17 seasons with the Senators, 13 as captain, Alfredsson holds the club's franchise records for goals (426), assists (682) and points (1,108) with 1,178 games played.
Redden, who spent 11 seasons with Ottawa, said every accolade his close friend earned is well deserved. Redden is travelling to Ottawa to be on hand for Alfredsson's retirement.
"First and foremost he's a great guy and a great friend," said Redden, from his home in Kelowna, B.C. "There are so many great memories playing together and spending time away from the rink. He always had such a great way of looking at the game and I could always count on him to help me figure things out. He was someone I could always talk to, about anything.
"He was always the hardest working guy and you could tell he played with a passion. He just loved the game."
Arvedson said Alfredsson's retirement is making headlines in his home country.
"There are so many great times with Alfie," said Arvedson, who now lives in Karlstad, Sweden. "He loved everything about the game. We would often sit on the bus after a game and he would still want to talk about hockey. He would talk about other teams, other players and you could just tell how much he loved the game."
Alfredsson's passion for the game is a recurring theme among his teammates.
"As a professional he was as good as they come," said retired goaltender Patrick Lalime, who played with Alfredsson for five seasons. "He was completely dedicated to the game. He was a treat to have as a teammate. He was serious about the game, but he liked to have fun."
Nashville Predators forward Mike Fisher played 11 seasons with Alfredsson and says by far he is the best player he's played with.
"He led on the ice with passion and work ethic and skill," said Fisher. "Off the ice, in the room, he was so well respected and he wasn't overly vocal, but when he spoke people listened and respected him."
One of Alfredsson's greatest attributes was his ability to take his game to another level when it counted most. Many refer to him scoring the game-winning goal against the Buffalo Sabres to send the Senators to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007, but to his teammates that was just one of many highlights.
"He could always rise to another level in big games," Arvedson said. "You could just see his eyes glow when there were big games. He had such a passion for the game and he could find a way to play at his best when it was most needed."
Lalime says Alfredsson was always determined to be at his best.
"He always left it all on the ice. He was smart, passionate, determined and he had a will to get what he wanted," Lalime said.
While Alfredsson will undoubtedly be remembered for his time on the ice, he had just as great an impact on the community. From the time he arrived in Ottawa as a 22-year-old rookie he could always be counted on to help with various charitable endeavours.
Best known for his work with the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, where he helped bring awareness to mental health issues, Alfredsson was also a staunch supporter of the Boys & Girls Club as well as an advocate for the You Can Play Project. Most times he made his charitable contributions quietly with no need for recognition.
"I think the things he did off the ice are almost more important," said Fisher. "Everything he brought to the city and the community can't even begin to be measured. He did so much quietly, but they made a big impact. It's just the kind of person he is."
Luke Richardson, now head coach of the Binghamton Senators, played just one season with Alfredsson, but the two formed an immediate bond and developed a close friendship.
"He became a part of the community and that's just the type of person he is," said Richardson. "As good a hockey player he is, he's ten times the person and family man."