The Detroit Red Wings landed a pair of big fish in the free agency pond yesterday.
The latter of the two was expected to come to Detroit to fill a need at second-line center, but it was Alfredsson who surprised everyone by leaving the Ottawa Senators, where he had spent all 17 years of his career, to join the Wings and fellow Swedes Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, and Jonathan Ericsson.
Alfredsson, 40, cited the Wings' streak of 22 consecutive playoff appearances as a reason for signing, but he also believes he can finally win an elusive Stanley Cup in Detroit.
“I’ve played 18 years and I haven’t won the Stanley Cup,” Alfredsson said. “That’s my dream. Everybody knows Detroit’s goal is always to be at the top of the game and to win championships. I’m really excited to get this opportunity at this stage of my career, to go for a Stanley Cup and pursue a long-time dream.”
Better known as "Alfie" around the league, the right winger has tallied 426 goals and 682 assists in his career. He brings plenty of playoff experience with him to, ringing up 100 points (51 goals, 49 assists) in 121 playoff games. Plus he shoots right-handed, which is something the Wings have always needed.
Alfredsson was also pleased with the atmosphere of the locker room, which is controlled by Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
“I love watching them play and the whole team play, with and without the puck, because they do so many good things that maybe a lot of people can’t pick up,’ Alfredsson said. “They perform extremely well under pressure in important situations.”
Former Red Wing great Nicklas Lidstrom, who played with Alfredsson at the 2006 Olympics for Sweden, told The Detroit Free Press that Alfredsson will be a great addition to the team with his leadership and experience.
Weiss, meanwhile, fills a void at second-line center after Valtteri Filppula bolted for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The former Florida Panther is no stranger to the Detroit area, having played his junior hockey with the Plymouth Whalers. And his favorite player growing up was former Red Wing great Steve Yzerman.
Like Alfredsson, Weiss also wanted to come to a team with playoff consistency.
“Coming from Florida, and being there for 10 years, only playing in the playoffs one time — it was a pretty easy decision to come and play for the Red Wings organization." Weiss said. "It’s been a culture of winning over the years. Their goal every year is to win a Stanley Cup and to come to a team and be a part of that is really exciting.
“I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity to come to this team.”
Weiss, 30, has tallied 145 goals and 249 assists in nine seasons, all with Florida. He made it to the postseason just once with the Panther, scoring five points (3 goals, two assists) in seven games in 2012.
Weiss drew a lot of comparison to Yzerman in his junior days, earning the nickname "Weisserman."
“The comparisons at that age were a little scary, to be compared to a guy like Steve,” Weiss said. “But I like going up against the best players and trying to shut them down and be accountable offensively, too.
“It’s pretty neat to come back to a city where I played before and used to watch the Wings and used to watch Steve play there and wondered about maybe playing for that franchise some day. It’s kind of surreal.”
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who had drawn criticism for being too conservative in free agency, helped send a message that the Wings will be contending for the Cup next season.
“With addition of Alfie and Stephen, we think that we’re going to be a lot deeper up front,” Holland said. “We think we’ve got tremendous goaltender who’s durable. We think our defense is a little bit under the radar. We have a lot of kids that can skate and pass the puck and got a year of experience under the belt. We wanted to add some forwards. We wanted to add some scoring. Today was a great day for us.”
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