Wait­ing un­til he’s ready

Karls­son to sit out Se­na­tors’ trip West, team ‘hope­ful’ he’ll re­turn next week

Packet & Times (Orillia) - - SPORTS - BRUCE GAR­RIOCH In­jured Se­na­tors de­fence­man Erik Karls­son bumps gloves with team­mates dur­ing player in­tro­duc­tions prior to Ottawa’s home opener last week. Karls­son won’t play un­til at least next week as he con­tin­ues to re­cover from ten­don surgery he had in

VAN­COU­VER — The Ottawa Se­na­tors will have to sol­dier on through­out West­ern Canada with­out cap­tain Erik Karls­son.

This time, there will be no speedy re­cov­ery for the club’s top de­fence­man.

While the Se­na­tors were hope­ful their best player would be able to re­turn to the lineup as early as Saturday night against the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers, when the club wraps up this three-game road trip, gen­eral man­ager Pierre Do­rion told the trav­el­ling me­dia at the club’s downtown ho­tel Wednesday that won’t be the case.

Yes, Karls­son is a fast healer, but he’s going to have take his time try­ing to come back from the ten­don surgery he had on his foot in June and the club is op­ti­mistic he won’t be out much longer.

“We’re hope­ful that he will play at some point in time next week,” Do­rion said.

Do­rion said Karls­son, who has been skat­ing at the Bell Sen­splex with in­jured team­mates Johnny Oduya and Colin White while the team is on the road, has to be com­fort­able.

“It’s all about when he feels he’ll be ready to play. It’s all about con­di­tion­ing and he’s got to get used to a dif­fer­ent sen­sa­tion in his feet, but there’s no set­back,” Do­rion said. “We were al­ways hope­ful he’d be ready (this week) but we felt the best thing for him would be to skate with Shean Dono­van on a daily ba­sis.

“We’re very, very hope­ful that he’ll be ready next week.”

There is no ques­tion the Se­na­tors would like Karls­son back now and he’d like to play, but it’s a long sea­son and he needs to be ready when he does re­turn. When the Se­na­tors left town there was a chance he’d join the team Thursday in Cal­gary and suit up Saturday in Ed­mon­ton but those plans have changed.

“With Erik I know he’s putting in a lot of hard work on the ice and in the gym to come and help this team sooner than later,” Do­rion said. “It’s just con­di­tion­ing. We all know when Erik steps into our lineup he’s not going to play seven min­utes. He’ll play his usual 25-to-30 min­utes.

“When you have to play that many min­utes you have to be in shape. Even though Erik is spe­cial, and in great shape, the more we can get him back into great shape that’s the best it will be for ev­ery­one.”

Com­ing off a 3-2 shootout vic­tory over the Van­cou­ver Canucks Tues­day at Rogers Arena, the Se­na­tors have had to call in re­in­force­ments be­cause of in­juries to Ben Harpur (shoul­der), Oduya (undis­closed) and Karls­son. Oduya could join the team in Cal­gary and play Saturday night against the Oil­ers.

With four points in their first three games, the Se­na­tors’ de­fence corps have done a good job with­out Karls­son. The club called up prospects Thomas Chabot and Chris­tian Jaros to suit up here. They both did just fine while Dion Pha­neuf, Cody Ceci, Mark Bor­wiecki, Chris Wide­man and Fred Claes­son shoul­dered the load.

Chabot and Jaros picked up a lit­tle more time Tues­day after Wide­man was benched for most of the sec­ond and third pe­riod for in­dif­fer­ent play.

“I think we’ve been able to get the maximum out of the guys that we want to,” Do­rion said. “Even though I tell you I don’t read the news­pa­pers or lis­ten to the ra­dio, I do and over the course of the sum­mer it was a big panic be­cause of who was going to play on our de­fence. We al­ways felt we had the depth for guys to step up.

“Guys have stepped up. We al­ways felt that one of our two strengths was goal­tend­ing and our depth on de­fence. When you have all those guys then you bring up guys like Harpur, Jaros and Chabot and they go into the lineup and they don’t hurt you at all, there’s not many teams that can say they do that. We’ve al­ways felt we’re deal­ing with a po­si­tion of strength at the most dif­fi­cult po­si­tion to play in the league.”

Do­rion said the club’s record has no bear­ing on Karls­son’s timetable.

“For us, when he was going to be ready, he was going to be ready. If we had (lost all three) he prob­a­bly would have just played next week at some point,” Do­rion said. “We were hop­ing, but some­times play­ers and train­ers know that they’re not ready. We’re hop­ing, hop­ing, hop­ing but some­times you have to be re­al­is­tic.

“He didn’t get a chance to do much all sum­mer and he’s try­ing to shorten his sum­mer in a mat­ter of four weeks with guys who did it in 12 weeks. Even though he’s spe­cial we can’t put him in a po­si­tion where he’s not going to help our team.”

Make no mis­take, Karls­son is champ­ing at the bit to re­turn.

“If we gave Erik his choice he would have played opening night,” said Do­rion. bgar­rioch@post­media.com

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