It doesn’t make sense to compare Sundin and Alfredsson

“If you ask a Senators fans to create a Mount Rushmore of comic genius, it will include George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and Daniel Alfredsson pretending to throw his broken stick” famed Leafs blogger Sean McIndoe once wrote about the dumbest moment of the Toronto-Ottawa rivalry. That always stuck with me.

Today, Ian Mendes of the Ottawa Citizen‘s ‘Senators Extra’ feature brought that up as “one of the most galvanizing—if not humorous—incidents between the two clubs.”

When you look back at Daniel Alfredsson’s career once it’s over, I’m sure it will merit some Hall of Fame talk. It isn’t fair to him right now to be compared to Mats Sundin. For much of Alfredsson’s career, he played in Sundin’s shadow. The Senators were 0-4 against the Leafs’ in the playoffs and it wasn’t until after the lockout that Ottawa managed success on their own merit, with a conference final and a Stanley Cup bid.

Why compare the two? “As captains of their respective teams when the Battle of Ontario was at its peak, the two Swedish superstars were the poster boys for the best rivalry either fan base has seen in the past 20 years.”

The key word in the above graf is “Swedish”. Nobody in Vancouver would try to figure Markus Naslund’s legacy with the Canucks stacking him up against Jarome Iginla, just as there aren’t too many writers out there who are looking to devise a comparison between Andrei Markov and Zdeno Chara.

The reality is that hockey folk pay attention to nationality more than is appropriate. We’ve pegged different styles of game to different players based solely on where they were born. If Alfredsson were Finnish, this debate wouldn’t happen. I can be quite sure, because no two captains in hockey are stacked up and compared as much as Sundin and Alfredsson are.

Alfredsson and Sundin are both hockey players. They are very good hockey players, but they’re not the same hockey player. They may have meant something similar for both their franchises, but then why not stack Alfredsson’s achievements up against Luc Robitaille, Keith Tkachuk, or somebody who actually played his position?

Or just let it stand on his own. I don’t disagree that one day, Daniel Alfredsson will be in the Hall of Fame. It does make no sense to marginalize his career by stacking him up against a different hockey player, or to blight on Sundin’s special night.

We’ll have some reaction from Mats’ induction later.