‘Home of Hockey Now His Home’

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“For years, Daniel Alfredsson was a lightning rod for jeers in Toronto, each time he took the ice.

“But on Tuesday, it was where the Swedish-born longtime ‘Ottawa Senators’ captain officially made Canada his home — amid cheers — as he and 102 other newcomers became Canadian citizens at the ‘World Cup of Hockey Fan Village’.

“As the top hockey nations of the globe are gathered in Toronto for the ‘World Cup’, the citizenship ceremony marked a celebration of hockey not only as Canada’s favourite pastime, but also as a symbol of Canada’s openness.

“To quote the Canadian national anthem, Canada is hockey’s ‘home and native land,’ said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “Canada is the heart and soul of hockey, and hockey is the heart and soul of Canada.”

“Bettman, an American, spoke of the history and tradition of the ‘Stanley Cup’, the trophy originally crafted in England before being brought to Canada by Lord Stanley.

“Lord Stanley’s legacy reminds us that while the Stanley Cup was not born in Canada, it found a permanent home here,” Bettman said. “We are proud that your first official Canadian moment is also a hockey moment.”

“Former hockey star-turned broadcaster Cassie Campbell-Pascall presided over the ceremony, encouraging new citizens to get involved in Canadian society through shared loves such as hockey, but also not to forget where they came from.

“I encourage you as newcomers to retain your customs and to share and blend them into the multicultural fabric of this great nation, so we can all benefit,” she said. “Our multiculturalism is what makes us special and unique.”

“Those values are what drove Gurjinder and Shuphra Thind to move to Canada from their home of India. They waited five years to gain Canadian citizenship.

“It’s a multicultural country, so we just wanted to be here because kids get more knowledge about other cultures,” Shuphra said.

“They and all others who took their oath of citizenship were given Canadian ‘World Cup of Hockey’ jerseys as a welcome gift to the country. The 103 newcomers together sang the national anthem before posing for a photo in their jerseys, standing in the formation of a maple leaf.

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“Alfredsson, originally from Sweden and an advisor to the Swedish ‘World Cup’ team, said it was special to hear the Canadian anthem for the first time as a Canadian citizen.

“It was a different feeling today, there’s no question. We knew this was going to be a special day for us, but we felt comfortable, obviously, with all the hockey references and the national anthem,” said Alfredsson, whose wife, Bibbi, also took the oath of citizenship.

“Usually when I heard (the anthem) over the years, it’s been 90 seconds ‘till puck drop,” he said. “The song I know inside out now, because of all the games we played in the ‘National Hockey League’.”

“Alfredsson also noted it wasn’t the first time he’s donned the red and white.

“Last time I had a Canadian sweater on, I lost a bet to our owner on the ‘World Juniors’,” he said. “It’s a beautiful sweater. I know it means a lot to Canadians … It’s going to fit nicely with the blue and yellow and the Ottawa jerseys.”

“While he’s not used to being celebrated in Toronto, a group of fans dressed in Swedish hockey jerseys made sure to cheer on Alfredsson. The 43-year-old also signed autographs and shook hands with a handful of Ottawa natives wearing Senators jerseys bearing his name on the back…

“Donald Fehr, executive director of the ‘NHL Players’ Association’, MP Adam Vaughan and ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ host Ron MacLean were also on hand to welcome the newest Canadians.

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“Bettman called Alfredsson the

“consummate ambassador for the game both on and off the ice.”

“He actually represents a perfect melding of Canada and hockey,” said Bettman. “It’s terrific that he’s decided this is to be his home.”

“But despite what he called the “honour” of taking part in the ceremony, the NHL commissioner said he had no plans to take the oath of citizenship north of the border, himself.

“I’m not planning to relocate any time soon, but I’ll keep it in mind…”

–‘Daniel Alfredsson, 100 others become Canadian citizens at World Cup’,
SAMMY HUDES, Toronto Star, Sept. 20, 2016

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/09/20/daniel-alfredsson-100-others-become-canadian-citizens-at-world-cup.html

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