DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings benefited from having Daniel Alfredsson on the ice, players learned from the way he carried himself off the ice.
Alfredsson spent only season with the organization but made a tremendous impression.
"He was a great leader. You can't get enough of those on a team," Johan Franzen said. "He knows what it takes to win. He comes to play every day. He's one of those guys that gets it done every day somehow.
"I played with him before on the (Swedish) national team. I've always been impressed with the level of skill he has. I'm just happy to be able to be part of one of his years as a hockey player. That's something special."
Alfredsson announced his retirement Thursday in Ottawa, following 18 NHL seasons - 17 with the Senators and last year with the Red Wings.
He desperately wanted to play one more season in Detroit, but it became apparent in October that his troublesome back would not allow it. The high-scoring forward and five-time Olympian turns 42 on Dec. 11.
"I remember my first time meeting him, I think it was my first World Championship (in 2005) and he came in and it was just like greatness," Franzen said. "I was a young kid and you have so much respect watching those guys and he came in and was just so humble. Such a great guy, real easy to be around. He really builds you up."
Alfredsson ranks second to Mats Sundin in NHL history among Swedish players in goals (444) and points (1,157) and third in assists (713) behind former Red Wing Nicklas Lidstrom and Sundin.
"I'm just happy to be able to be part of one of his years as a hockey player. That's something special." -- Johan Franzen
Alfredsson is part of a select group of players -- along with Lidstrom, Sundin, Peter Forsberg and Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg - who are widely considered the best the country has produced.
"He's meant very much for Swedish hockey and Ottawa as well," fellow Swede Gustav Nyquist said. "I'm very lucky to have played a full season with him and learned lot from him.
"You understand why he could play so long, how hard he works. Just the way he carries himself off the ice is something special. Obviously, it's a special day for him. It's fun to see that he's retiring in Ottawa. It's nice that he gets to take the warm-ups (at Canadian Tire Centre before tonight's game against the New York Islanders)."
Said Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson: "He's one of the idols back home for all the kids. For him to come over and play for Detroit was really special for the Swedes here. We were fortunate to have him for a year. We had hoped to have him another year, but I guess his back said no."
The Red Wings have little doubt that Alfredsson could still contribute if healthy. He tied for the team lead with 49 points (including 18 goals) in 68 games last season.
"He's a great, great player," coach Mike Babcock said. "Like all great players he took it seriously; he took responsibility for the way he played. He was great without the puck. He helped your team win.
"The unfortunate thing with Alfie, when he was here was he was hurt all the time and he always had the tingling going down his leg. That makes it hard to train the way you want to train, to be as quick as you want to be in games because you can't practice. And if you can't practice ... it's a hard league."
The Red Wings could use his booming right-handed shot.
"Obviously, we wanted him to come back. That would have been a great addition on the ice and off the ice," Nyquist said. "But you got to respect his decision. I think that shows what kind of man he is, too, that he wants to feel 100 percent in order to be on the team. I think that says a lot about his character."
Said Babcock: "For the Ottawa Senators to let him do what he's doing today and retire a Senator the way he should I think is a real, real special thing."