Karlsson repays Swedeness
Sens D-man will lend helping hand to incoming countrymen
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson remembers the help he got from Daniel Alfredsson, and he's hoping to lend the same helping hand to a couple of incoming teammates. (QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - Not so long ago, Erik Karlsson was the stranger in a strange land — a young Swedish hockey player in a foreign country.
He knows how much easier it became when Daniel Alfredsson reached out and helped. Now, he’s hoping to return the favour.
When training camp opens next month, Karlsson will reach out to Swedish newcomers David Rundblad and Mika Zibanejad, willing to offer the same helping hand he got from Alfredsson.
“I remember how much (Alfredsson) was able to help me when I got here,” said the 21-year-old Karlsson. “Even though I haven’t been here as long as he was when I got here, I still think it’s good for the young guys coming in here to speak their own language once in a while and ask if there’s anything they need to know.
“I think it’s good for everyone, even me, to have them here. It gives you a bit of comfort. I can call them up for a BBQ once in a while and (Tuesday) we all had lunch.”
This might sound odd, but Karlsson has quickly moved from top prospect to veteran on the Senators’ roster. The team’s rebuild started last spring and has thrust him into a role as an experienced player.
An NHL all-star last season, Karlsson will be relied on heavily to play important minutes.
“It’s going to be exciting. I’m really looking forward to being one of the guys who is able to help some guys,” said Karlsson. “I’m still young, but I really like that role.”
While Karlsson doesn’t know Zibanejad, Rundblad was his national team teammate. Acquired from the St. Louis Blues for the Senators’ top pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft, Rundblad is going to get a good chance to stick in Ottawa.
“He’s a good hockey player,” said Karlsson. “Whatever he does, he does it (well). Wherever he is, he’s going to have a good year.”
Karlsson just got back to town a week ago and is trying to get ready for the opening of camp Sept. 17 at Scotiabank Place.
“I think it will be a good year for us,” said Karlsson. “We have a lot of young guys, but we’ve still got the veterans we need.
“We’ll be a fun team to watch.”