Brian Burke and the Sedins pay tribute to Alfredsson as he prepares to enter the Hall of Fame on Monday

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TORONTO — Brian Burke has always admired the skill, competitiveness and leadership that Daniel Alfredsson brought to the ice.

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For Burke, however, Alfredsson has always been the enemy during his career with the Ottawa Senators.

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In all of Burke’s stops in National Hockey League management, from the Vancouver Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames (he’s now with the Pittsburgh Penguins), Alfredsson was the guy his team had to stop to win.

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The hottest of all encounters, of course, was when the Senators faced the Burke Ducks in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, when Anaheim won in five games.

Yet Burke and Alfredsson had barely exchanged words until the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

At that time, Burke was general manager of the United States hockey team, while Alfredsson was alternate captain for Sweden.

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« I thought he was a great guy, a very classy guy, » Burke said Sunday, speaking ahead of the Legends Classic weekend at the Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Burke sits on the Hall of Fame Selection Committee and tours celebrations involving Alfredsson, Henric and Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo, Riikka Sallinen and Herb Carnegie.

« But I’ll tell you another little story that people don’t know about Alfie when we were at the Olympics, » Burke continued.

« We weren’t playing in the afternoon, but the Swedes were and Alfie was stretching in the hallway. And I barely know him, just enough to say « hi » to him. He never played for me.

« I said ‘hey, Alfie’ and he stopped stretching. And Alfie came over. And that was right after my son died.

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Brendan Burke died in a car accident just weeks before the start of the Olympics.

“He came over and said, ‘Stop, Mr. Burke. I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry about your son. Now he’s a guy who barely knew me. He had no reason to stop me. I will never forget that. He’s a very likeable guy.

Burke remembers, of course, when an upset Alfredsson threw the puck at Anaheim star defenseman Scott Niedermayer as the bell rang to end the second period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

« I’m not going to mention the fact that he threw the puck at Scott and tried to violently assault my defenseman, » he said with a smile. No, I’m not going to talk about it. He was frustrated. It didn’t diminish his career at all.

While Burke shared fond memories of Alfredsson’s gesture later in his career, the longtime Senators captain meant something else entirely to Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

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Alfredsson, 49, is seven years older than the twins and has been a role model for them on many fronts.

« He was the guy we looked up to when we played with him in the (Swedish) national team, » Henrik said. « For the national team he was an older guy and every time you played with older guys like that, we wanted to learn from them. That was a big thing.

By the time Burke picked the Sedins in the 1999 NHL Draft and brought them to Vancouver, Alfredsson was already well into his NHL career, having won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1995- 1996.

« And then obviously watching him when he became Senators captain, » Henrik Sedin said. “You just have to see how he handled it, to be in a Canadian market and lead the way. He’s a guy we really looked up to when we started in the NHL. »

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Fittingly, Alfredsson and the Sedins played together on a line here on Sunday afternoon, wearing their familiar numbers 11, 22 and 33 and sporting the yellow and blue Swedish colors for the Sundin team. Alfredsson scored on a penalty shot and the trio also connected on some fine passing play before a Daniel Sedin goal.

Burke says « it’s a great class » of inductees.

« The fact that there are three Swedes, I don’t think is an accident, » he said. “These three are special. I thought Alfredsson was a great player, throughout his career.

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