Ottawa Citizen

Karls­son set to leave Jokerit

De­fence­man hopes NHL sea­son can still be sal­vaged

- JAMES GOR­DON

Erik Karls­son’s Fin­nish ad­ven­ture will fin­ish Satur­day.

The Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors de­fence­man has been play­ing for Helsinki-based Jokerit of the Fin­nish Elite League since the fall, when the Na­tional Hockey League im­posed what is now a 104-day lock­out.

The Nor­ris Tro­phy-win­ning blue­liner has de­cided to let his mon­thto-month con­tract ex­pire and re­turn to his na­tive Swe­den to wait out the NHL’s labour im­passe, how­ever.

In an email ex­change Thurs­day morn­ing, Jokerit gen­eral man­ager Jarmo Kekäläi­nen said the team en­joyed hav­ing Karls­son aboard for the past few months.

“Erik was ex­cel­lent, we were very happy and it was a plea­sure hav­ing him,” Kekäläi­nen said. “He will be missed. Good player and a great guy.”

Jokerit’s at­ten­dance is av­er­ag­ing 9,600 this sea­son, which Kekäläi­nen said was “a lot higher than last year.”

“I am sure Erik has had an in­put in the im­proved fig­ures.”

In a video posted on the team’s web­site Thurs­day, Karls­son said he hoped to put on one last good show for the home fans be­fore pack­ing his bags.

“I’ve been here for three months now and I think I really got set­tled in ev­ery­where, and I’ve really en­joyed ev­ery­thing that’s come up out of this jour­ney here,” he said. “I en­joyed the team a lot and ob­vi­ously it’s tough, tak­ing this de­ci­sion of head­ing back home and wait­ing for what’s go­ing to hap­pen with the lock­out, but right now that’s the best op­tion for me.”

The diminu­tive de­fence­man is still hold­ing out hope the NHL sea­son will be sal­vaged in the next two weeks.

“They can­celled all the games through Jan­uary 14th, so hopefully we’ll play the 15th,” he said. “That’s what ev­ery­body’s aim­ing for now. You know, you can only hope and pray that the sea­son starts soon again.”

Karls­son has seven goals and 20 as­sists in 28 games for Jokerit, about the same points-per-game pace he set last sea­son with the Sen­a­tors.

He scored 19 goals and 58 as­sists in 78 games here, mak­ing him the run­away points leader among de­fence­men and pro­pel­ling him to the Nor­ris, which is handed out an­nu­ally to the league’s top de­fence­man.

 ?? MIKA KYLMANIEMI PHOTO ?? Erik Karls­son is leav­ing Helsinki-based Jokerit of the Fin­nish Elite League and will be re­turn­ing to his home coun­try of Swe­den to wait out the NHL lock­out. In a video posted Thurs­day, Karls­son said he hoped to put on one last good show for the home...
MIKA KYLMANIEMI PHOTO Erik Karls­son is leav­ing Helsinki-based Jokerit of the Fin­nish Elite League and will be re­turn­ing to his home coun­try of Swe­den to wait out the NHL lock­out. In a video posted Thurs­day, Karls­son said he hoped to put on one last good show for the home...

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