Saturday seemed like just another day in the life of Daniel Alfredsson as he drove down Highway 417 to the rink.

Then he stepped into the small, nondescript visitors dressing room at the building now called the Canadian Tire Centre. That’s when it sunk in that this wasn’t just another practice. And he wasn’t preparing for just another game.

Alfredsson’s 1,201st NHL game on Sunday will be unlike any he has experienced during his 18-year career.

The most celebrated player in Ottawa Senators history is back in town as a Detroit Red Wing.

He does not know what to expect from the fans. Will they express their dismay that he suddenly left in July, after 17 seasons with the franchise, the past 13 as captain? Or will they show their appreciation for all the future Hall-of-Fame forward has done for the organization and the city?

All he knows is that it will be emotional for him.

“A lot of good memories, a lot of good things happened here,’’ the 40-year-old Alfredsson said. “It will be a special game.’’

The Senators will pay tribute to Alfredsson with a five-minute video montage after the national anthems, just before the opening faceoff. Alfredsson will be on the ice for it, in the starting lineup.

“I talked to him about that; I wouldn’t put him there if he wasn’t comfortable with that,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “One of the things he gets to do here (Sunday) is say thanks. He’s done that already anyway.

“Anybody who’s played almost 1,200 games in your organization and has done a lot for your city and the kind of man he is off the ice, it’s his opportunity to take a bow that way. It’s people’s opportunity to express what they got to say, too. They pay money, so they get to do whatever they want. But respect is an important factor in life.’’

Alfredsson is happy the schedule allowed him to practice in Ottawa, so he could get accustomed to the strange feeling of skating there as a visitor.

While he believes Sunday’s reception will be warm, he isn’t stressing over a situation he can’t control.

“I’m anxious to play the game; what happens is going to happen (with fans),’’ Alfredsson said. “It’s a very different situation than anything I’ve ever gone through before, so I don’t know what to expect or what’s going to happen. Hopefully, it will be a good night.’’

What he looked forward to the most was seeing longtime friends and acquaintances. It’s a big game for his family, too. His four sons were at practice.