SOUNDING OFF ON SENS’ SILENCE
How exactly did the Ottawa Senators end up in a situation where they were forced to part ways with their captain and arguably the best defenceman in the world?According to Erik Karlsson, you’ll have to ask ownership or management. He would do it himself, but the last time he sat down and talked with owner Eugene Melnyk or general manager Pierre Dorion was 10 months ago.“I haven’t spoken to any of them really since November of last year when they asked for my no-trade list,” Karlsson told Postmedia News in a one-on-one interview Thursday. “That’s the way it is, I guess. That’s the only situation I know that’s been like this. It was what it was. I was there to play hockey and I did that to the best of my ability with what we had. That’s all that I worried about.“Everything else around it is above my pay grade. That’s not my question to ask.”That the two sides went nearly a year without talking before Karlsson was ultimately shipped off to San Jose for an underwhelming package of prospects, picks and depth players illustrates just how toxic the relationship between Karlsson and the Senators had become in Ottawa.Karlsson spent nine years in Ottawa. He won two Norris trophies with the Senators and led the team to the doorstep of the Stanley Cup final in 2017. The city was his home. It still is with he and wife Melinda deciding to hang on to their house for now.And yet, when it was finally time to go, the team sent him packing without much more than a wave of the hand.Did it hurt?“It’s disappointing,” said Karlsson. “I was there for nine seasons. I never had any issues with the group of guys that we had in that locker-room playing hockey. Everyone that we had was extremely professional and tried to do the best with what we had. Everything else that went around it is something that we couldn’t control. All that other stuff is a question for someone else that’s above the players.”It’s no secret that Karlsson probably priced himself out of the small-market city when he said he wouldn’t be willing to take a hometown discount to stay with the Senators. “When I go to market, I’m going to get what I’m worth,” he told the Citizen in December. “And it’s going to be no less.”Those comments came shortly after the Senators had traded away Kyle Turris following an unsuccessful contract negotiation, after which Turris criticized ownership for not wanting to pay him what he was worth. At the same time, Karlsson made it clear he was willing to return to Ottawa for the final season of his contract, though it appears the door had closed on him signing an extension beyond that.“I’m sure that people are wondering what actually happened, but that’s not something that I’m going to get into,” said Karlsson. “I think everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. At the end of the day, they traded me.“I have one more year on my deal. It was not my decision. I had nothing to do with it. It was part of the business. I have to respect their decision, whether I agree with it or not. That’s the reality we’re in right now. I try not to read too much into it. As I said, if I were to have left next summer, then it probably would have been different. My job at the end of the day is to play hockey for whatever team I am with.I did that for nine years and I think I did it to the best of my ability.”So now he moves on. He has only been in San Jose for two days, but the differences between here and where he came from could not be more different. And it has nothing to do with the weather. After all, it’s just as warm in Ottawa right now as it is in northern California.No, the change is in the culture. And it begins up top. Karlsson has already met with Sharks majority owner Hasso Plattner, who shared his vision and philosophy on running a hockey team. Call him the anti-Melnyk.“The way that they think an organization like this should be run is extremely well planned out and prepared,” said Karlsson. “I think that the fact that they’ve been able to do so many extensions here in the past (with other acquired players) really speaks volumes about what a great place it is to live and to play for.”It’s hard not to hear that and treat it as a jab at Melnyk, who during Karlsson’s final two years in Ottawa pushed out franchise icon Daniel Alfredsson, threatened to move the team and then sold off several of their best assets in a hastily planned rebuild.In San Jose, the concern isn’t over the payroll. The Sharks want to win a championship. And they’re prepared to spend whatever it takes. That’s why they acquired Karlsson. All he has to do is go out and play.It’s a refreshing concept. “You don’t have to do too much,” said Karlsson. “You just have to follow the stream and learn. I’ve been here two days. But from the two days that I’ve been here, everything has been over the top. I’m extremely excited to see that through moving forward.”As for his much-anticipated return to Ottawa on Dec. 1, Karlsson hasn’t circled the date on his calendar. But he is looking forward to properly saying goodbye to the city. He didn’t get to do that at his exit news conference, mainly because he was still in shock over the trade.“Even though there had been a lot of speculation and talk about it for a long time, I don’t think it became real until it happened,” said Karlsson. “There’s a lot of emotions flying around. Once you start to talk about it and realize that this is going to be the last time that you’re speaking in that setting, I think it hits you a little. You’re leaving your home.“It’s obviously going to be a fun night coming back. When I do come back, there’s going to be a lot of friends and family in the stands. Hopefully, everything goes as smooth as possible.”
Erik Karlsson said the last time he sat down to talk with Senators GM Pierre Dorion and owner Eugene Melnyk was last November, when he was asked for his no-trade list.
© PressReader. All rights reserved.