He’s one of the most electrifying players in the game.
A once-in-a-generation defenceman with a skill set that is unlike any other player in the league today. He has an effortless stride that chews up opposition defenders and lifts fans out of their seats. He can pick a team apart with a pin point pass or blistering shot. Hell even a simple head fake does it sometimes.
He makes players around him better and he is the type of franchise defenceman you can build your organization around.
But enough about Thomas Chabot.
The Ottawa Senators host Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks this afternoon at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Safe to say this is a game Sens fans, Karlsson fans and fans of a little early-season drama have had circled on their calendar for months.
After 627 games in a Sens jersey, plus another 48 in the post-season, the King returns to his former Kingdom.
To say that this will be an emotional game for Karlsson is an understatement. This is his “forever home”. The city where he got his start and the city where he became a star.? And the city where he left under the most unpleasant of circumstances.
For Sens fans, it will be a reminder of the franchise player that got away.
Regardless of how you feel about Karlsson’s departure and about the direction the Senators are headed without him, there is no doubt that Karlsson was one of the greatest players in franchise history. In my opinion, he’s a pretty clear second but that’s a debate for another day.
Actually, we can have that debate now. Alfredsson played like 500 more games with the team. Had 300 more goals. Had 500 more points. And brought the team to its only appearance in the Stanley Cup finals. He was the best Captain this organization has ever had.
When it comes to pure skill though, there was nobody quite like Karlsson. And maybe, there never will be again. At his best, like during that incredible one-legged run to the Eastern Conference Finals, he was the best player in the game. He decided the speed the game would be played at and he forced everyone else to try to keep up. He put the team on his back and carried them and this city within a goal of a Stanley Cup final. Maybe even a Stanley Cup.
And it’s going to weird as hell watching him play for another team.
Although admittedly, it’s not quite as emotional a return as when 11 came back that first time. Maybe I’m a little older. Maybe Alfie leaving desensitised me to the idea of losing a fan favourite. Or maybe Karlsson just never quite reached that same level. Maybe we never gave him a chance.
Either way, it’s still going to be a special afternoon at the CTC.
My daughter and I will be there in our matching Karlsson jerseys. She’ll be wondering why Karlsson plays for the Sharks now and frankly, I’ll be wondering the same thing.? We’ll give Erik the warm welcome back he deserves though.
And then we’ll hope he goes -4 in a 6-0 Sens win.
Late yesterday, the Senators signed defenceman Justin Falk to a one year, two-way deal and he’s expected to report to Ottawa in time for the game. With Borowiecki already out, Lajoie nursing a minor injury and Christian Wolanin hurt in Belleville, their left shot defenceman options were pretty thin. They asked me but I already have tickets to the game.
No morning skate for the Senators today obviously so the line up will remain a bit of a mystery until Guy Boucher meets with the media at 10:00 AM. Sharks aren’t skating either because Karlsson doesn’t wanna.
A best guess at the Ottawa line up for now.
Craig Anderson gets the start for Ottawa. Puck drop is scheduled for just after 1:00 PM.
The game is available on TSN5, TVA or on the radio at TSN1200 sports. It will also be streamed to an empty bar in Barbados where an angry old man will wonder why nobody loves him the same way they love that damn Erik Karlsson.
Welcome back, Erik.