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A big part of the Ottawa Senators’ past had a chance to break bread with the present and the future recently.

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We’re sure Brady Tkachuk already knew Ottawa was a small town, but if he needed confirmation, he got it April 15 when he sat down for lunch with former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Within minutes of them getting a table at Cantina Gia on Bank St., it was noted on social media the captain of the Senators was having something to eat with the best player in franchise history the day before the Senators faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Battle of Ontario.

Tkachuk noted following the club’s skate Monday at the Canadian Tire Center the duo had been hoping to get together since he signed his new deal in October but never got the opportunity because of COVID-19.

“It was a while in the making,” Tkachuk said. “We were hoping to meet up at the start of the season but with how crazy everything got and just the rise (in cases) it just made it hard (to get together).”

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The 49-year-old Alfredsson served as the club’s captain from 1999 until he signed with the Detroit Red Wings for his final season in 2013-14. Nobody in this city has a better understanding of the pressure that goes with wearing the ‘C’ in a Canadian market and that’s why Tkachuk wanted to pick his brain from him.

“I thought it would be important for myself to just sit down and talk with him and get to know him just because of how influential he was in the community, for this city and for this fan base,” Tkachuk said. “I really wanted to get his opinion from him on certain things going (into being the captain). I thought it would be important for me to get to know him because he was such a great captain. Not only for this team, but league-wide he had so much respect. It was important to get his take on some things.”

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The 22-year-old Tkachuk is closing out his first season wearing the ‘C’ after being named to the role by late owner Eugene Melnyk Nov. 5. Wearing the letter comes with a lot of responsibility and nobody has done the job better for the Senators than Alfredsson in his time here.

That’s the reason why every time Tkachuk skates on to the ice and looks up at the rafters of the rink he sees the retired No. 11 hanging there. Why wouldn’t Tkachuk want to pick Alfredsson’s brain? It just makes sense.

Tkachuk may be young but he’s mature beyond his years. The leadership he’s shown may come naturally because he had the opportunity to watch his father Keith, a former captain of the Jets and Coyotes, while growing up.

Tkachuk said he speaks to his dad every day and uses him as a sounding board but Alfredsson can be presented at a different point of view.

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Tkachuk felt it was important to hear the wisdom Alfredsson could impart.

It’s all part and parcel to Tkachuk not just wanting to be a good player for the Senators, he wants to get involved with the community and make an impact.

“I’m lucky with having the hockey background I have to have that at home but I’m lucky to have (Alfredsson here) as well,” Tkachuk said. “He was legend here, not only at the rink, but in the community as well.

“That’s what I want to do, I want to be part of the community, I want to meet people and try to be a good influence for all the kids within the area. I think that was the perfect person to talk to about that just because of the status that he has in the city.

“I definitely learned a lot just from those 90 minutes that we were together and I’m excited about the next time that we can meet.”

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Tkachuk feels he’s made stride this season in his leadership role.

“I said right from the start that it’s not just going to be one person leading it’s going to be a whole group,” Tkachuk said. “Everybody is leading in their own way, whether it’s by example or saying the right thing at the right time.

“For me, it’s just being able to rely on others and building that culture of giving it our all every single game. We’re trying to push each other to be better. I’ve learned a lot this year, a lot of lessons. I’m just thankful for all the tough times that have made me learn and the good times where we were all pushing in the right direction.

“I’m just happy we got to lean on guys and we did it all together.”

This group will be together for years to come and with the right additions the Senators may be able to compete for a playoff spot next season.

Tkachuk will keep the lines of communication open with Alfredsson as a shoulder to lean on and there may even be a game at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club in their future in the off-season.

“Hopefully we can keep doing some things, maybe some golf. I might have invited myself to play golf,” Tkachuk said with a smile. “Honestly we had a really good (chat).”

[email protected]

Twitter: @sungarrioch

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