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Alfie by Erik Karlsson | The Players’ Tribune

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I remember his face when he got the call.

All business.

Then a big smile.

A big Alfie smile.

I was sitting across from him back home in Sweden this summer. We both knew the call might come that day. We’d waited for it together on the same day the last couple of years. So to be there when it happened, to see firsthand how much it meant to him — to his family, his boys — it was really special.

Daniel Alfredsson, Hockey Hall of Fame, Class of 2022.

I’m so happy for you, Alfie.

You deserve it for a million different reasons, lots of which everyone knows. They saw it with their own eyes. You were an incredible player. But I was lucky enough to see up close just what an incredible person you are. And if everyone doesn’t mind … I just want to talk about my buddy for a few minutes.

There are a lot of places I could start. But one of the best experiences from my time in Ottawa was the night Alfie retired as a Senator. December 4, 2014. Packed house. His beautiful family by his side. I remember standing near the bench with his boys, watching him as he stood under the spotlight at center ice. The arena was going crazy. It felt like all of Ottawa was there with us. Like they were there with him. He stood there for a few seconds and, man, you could just feel the love —the appreciation. You don’t hear many rinks like that, you really don’t.

Erik Karlsson | San Jose Sharks | Alfie | The Players’ Tribune
Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty

In that moment, what I knew already was just reinforced: Ottawa loves Alfie like a son, and he loves it right back. He always has. There are a lot of guys who win Cups, who win different awards and all that. But there’s not many who could get a reaction like that from their city. And it’s because of who he is as a man, the connection he’s made with so many Senator fans. I learned that the second I became a part of the organization.

Actually, probably a few seconds before.

The 2008 draft was in Ottawa. I had no idea where I was going. Some teams were interested but not even my agent had a good idea. There were some rumblings when Ottawa traded up for the 15th pick. And then Alfie walked up onstage to announce it. The place went wild. Alfie! Alfie! Alfie! 

I don’t remember him saying it because I was too excited, but I know at some point he said, “The Ottawa Senators select, with their first selection, Erik Karlsson, from Frolunda, Sweden.” Then I sort of just blacked out. Thankfully it’s on YouTube somewhere out there I’m sure. But I do remember how excited the building was to see him, and how nice he was to me. As a European player the draft can be extremely overwhelming. I didn’t know anyone and it was just a whirlwind, but Alfie made me feel comfortable right away.

That summer he invited me to his home in Sweden, and I got to meet his whole family. He treated me like one of his boys and they were all so kind to me. I was really happy to be a Senator for a lot of reasons. I’d heard so many great things about the city and team. But being able to hopefully play alongside Alfie one day … that would have been a dream for any Swedish player my age.

All the guys I played with back home knew who he was, of course. He was a hero! See, when I was growing up, we really didn’t follow the NHL too much. I know we played the video games on my SEGA. My friends and I did actually pick the Sens a lot because they were pretty good back then. But we followed hockey through our local teams and the Swedish national team.

Erik Karlsson | San Jose Sharks | Alfie | The Players’ TribuneErik Karlsson | San Jose Sharks | Alfie | The Players’ Tribune
Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty

And any Swede will remember 2006 and the Turin Olympics.

I was 15 years old, completely obsessed with hockey. My team and I watched every game. And the gold medal game was one of those nights — one of those moments, really — that just sticks with you. It meant so much to us. So much. Maybe more than I could really even understand at that age. To beat Finland, too, extra sweet. Alfie was a big part of that team, along with so many legends (Congratulations, Henrik and Daniel!) who inspired a whole generation of kids. We have a lot of great players these days, but people forget we’re a small country. What that team accomplished … it will be felt in Sweden for a long, long time.

A couple of years later, I was playing for Frolunda. Alfie had played there for a bit before heading to Ottawa. He meant a lot to that club, and you couldn’t find somebody who didn’t love to tell you their favorite goal or moment of his. He’d come around the facility in the off-season and treat everybody like they were family. I’ll never forget that.

Going into my rookie season in Ottawa, knowing the type of guy Alfie was made all the difference for me. I really mean that. If I’m being honest with you … I know I wouldn’t have become the player I am today without his help. I had a different style at the time than a lot of other NHL defensemen and it wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But Alfie knew me, he knew what I could do, what I wanted to do. And I don’t know exactly how he did it, but having him in my corner … he protected me, in a way. I was allowed to play my game. And I think that’s a huge part of why I found success quickly in Ottawa.

Off the ice … well, he became a great friend. He was the best man at my wedding in 2017. He and his family mean the world to my wife, Mel, and I.

I really do feel so lucky to know him. And to have played beside him? Pretty cool, if you ask me. I’ll cherish our time on the national team together in Sochi in 2014. That was a dream come true.  His 1,000th game — so glad I got to be there for that.Seeing him score his 400th goal — what a moment. What can I say? I’m a big fan.

When I got the C in Ottawa, I knew what it meant because of everything I’d learned from him. His connection with the city became mine, and we both still call the city home. I’ll always love Ottawa, and that’s in part because of Alfie.

The day he retired as a Senator in 2014, the whole night was supposed to be about him. And rightfully so. But I remember getting to the rink and all his boys were wearing my jersey. Not their dad’s — mine. I had just become the captain a few months earlier, and I knew that Alfie meant it as a gesture to everyone. As if to say, My time is done, let’s get behind Erik and the team. Even up to his very last day as a Senator, he still had my back. That’s just who he is.

He’s “Uncle Alfie” to my kids, and when they get old enough to know him better, they’re going to realize that he’s a wonderful man. A great father, a great husband, a great human being. He treated everybody with respect. He knew right from wrong. He cared passionately about the game of hockey and the city of Ottawa. He still does.

It feels incredible to say that my best friend is going into the Hall of Fame.

Congratulations, buddy.

–Erik

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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship

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Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game

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Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City

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Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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