Daniel Alfredsson on Ryan Reynolds' interest in buying Senators: 'It's fabulous'

TORONTO — Daniel Alfredsson had never heard of the "Welcome to Wrexham" reality series.

When rumours started to swirl the Welsh soccer club's famous co-owner was interested in buying the Swede's former NHL team, however, his brother suggested they watch an episode.

Alfredsson liked what he saw.

Poised to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame next week, the Ottawa Senators icon was asked Friday about Canadian movie star Ryan Reynolds publicly stating he's keen to buy a piece of the franchise with the sale process now commenced.

"It's fabulous," Alfredsson. "I happened to be at my brother's place for his daughter's birthday a week ago and he told me about the Wrexham soccer team and the TV show."

So what did he think?

"Really cool – and not just buying the (soccer) team," Alfredsson continued. "They seem really interested and genuine in trying to do it the right way.

"If (Reynolds) was part of a group that ended up buying (the Senators), it would be great for everybody involved."

Reynolds confirmed the rumours about his interest in the team – recently valued at US$655 million by sports business website Sportico.com – on the Tonight Show earlier this week.

"Yes, that is true,'' said Reynolds, who owns Wrexham with fellow actor Rob McElhenney. "I am trying to do that. It's very expensive."

Added Reynolds with a laugh: "I need a partner with really deep pockets."

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk died of an undisclosed illness in March, leaving the team to his two adult daughters, Olivia and Anna.

The billionaire, who had an adversarial relationship with a large chunk of the fanbase in recent years, purchased the club in 2003 for $92 million at a time when it faced a tenuous future in the nation's capital.

The day-to-day running of the Senators, who are hoping to build a new arena in downtown Ottawa to replace the suburban Canadian Tire Centre, has been handled by its board of directors since Melnyk's death.

Set to turn 50 next month, Alfredsson played 17 seasons with the Senators, registering 426 goals and 1,108 points in 1,178 games to go along with 100 points (51 goals, 49 assists) in 121 playoff contests.

He then suited up for one campaign with the Detroit Red Wings prior to retiring in 2014.

Part of Ottawa's hockey operations department after hanging up his skates before eventually leaving the organization, Alfredsson said he hasn't been formally approached about joining an ownership bid, but added there have been conversations – both in the past and more recently.

"There's been different groups," he said. "There's been interest and people are thinking if I would be interested. The answer's been the same (as) today.

"Timing hasn't been there yet, but it's something I'm definitely interested in."

SENS STRUGGLES

Ottawa was a popular pick to challenge for a playoff spot in 2022-23, but has stumbled badly out of the gate.

The Senators sit last in the Atlantic Division at 4-8-1 following Thursday' 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey that came on the heels of six consecutive regulation defeats.

"They're a better team this year," Alfredsson said. "The pressure mounts up pretty quickly when the expectation is that they should definitely be fighting for playoff spots.

"They can right the ship."

FALTERING CANUCKS

Vancouver has also had an ugly start to the campaign – one accented by team president Jim Rutherford ripping head coach Bruce Boudreau on local radio in a recent interview.

Daniel Sedin, who along with brother Henrik works for the Canucks in player development, said the roster needs to learn from its current predicament.

"They're such a good, young group," said Sedin, who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame with his brother on Monday.

"They're going to come through this and be better for it."

LUONGO THE LEAF?

The Hall of Fame sits a few blocks from Scotiabank Arena – a building Luongo was close to calling home a decade ago.

The Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs were poised to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal that would have sent the goaltender to hockey's biggest market at the 2013 trade deadline, but it fell through at the last moment.

"I was in (Vancouver's) office ready to sign the waiver to waive the no-trade clause," Luongo said.

"It fell through at the last second."

Luongo, who was eventually traded back to Florida in 2014, said he would have embraced hockey life Toronto.

"I was ready for it," he said. "I already played in a Canadian market, so I kind of knew what to expect and how it goes. At that point in my career, I think I was more mature than I was earlier and I could handle it.

"I was pretty much ready to go."

So how does he think his career with the Leafs would have played out?

"I hope good," Luongo said with a laugh. "I hope I would still be (in the Hall of Fame) if I would have become a Leaf.

"But those are the questions we'll never have the answers to."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2022.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press