June 20, 2012
Karlsson strikes it richTakes home Norris and new deal
By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
LAS VEGAS - Not a lot of guys leave a casino hotel up $45 million.
And even fewer would consider that the second best thing that happened to them that week.
But Ottawa's Erik Karlsson is leaving Las Vegas with enough winnings to get a lifetime comp in the Wynn's best suite, adding a Norris Trophy Wednesday to the seven-year contract he signed on Tuesday.
"It's a great honour and something that I will look back on as being one of the best days of my life," said the Senators defenceman, who upset Nashville's Shea Weber and Boston Zdeno Chara on NHL Awards night.
"I've never been a part of something this big. It's something that kind of took me by surprise a little bit. I'm just very honoured by everything."
Karlsson, who won on the strength of a 78-point season, didn't have a speech prepared and was still struggling for the right words when he met with the media backstage.
"When I got nominated I don't think I really understood how it works and how big it was until I came here," he said. "Once I sat down and saw that the first prize was mine I didn't really know what to do. I'm probably going to have to look at the tape a couple of times to really figure out what happened. It's just a lot of fun right now.
"It's just very special, that's probably the best word to describe how everything is. It's a huge honour and it's very big. I couldn't be more happy with were I am right now. It's pretty hard to say how great it feels."
Chara, a former winner, and Weber, the hard-hitting, hard-shooting Mr. Everything for Nashville, were favoured to win, but voters couldn't get past Karlsson's staggering numbers. He won the defenceman scoring race by 25 points.
"I think both those guys have had terrific years, they've been good players for a number of years and they have many more to come," said Karlsson. "Just to be nominated with those guys is something that's very rare. I respect them a lot as players and people as well. I still watch them on TV like I did a couple of years ago."
Teammate Daniel Alfredsson says you have to watch Karlsson day in and day out to truly appreciate what kind of a game-changer he is.
"(Chara and Webere) are two great defencemen, there is no question, but the season Erik had was remarkable He was probably the MVP of our team and a huge reason we made the playoffs, because of his ability to create offence and score points and his play in our own end.
"In a sport like this, if you're not big you have to be quick and he's as quick as they get. "He set the bar for defenceman now. Maybe, hopefully, more teams will start playing offensively with their defencemen and open up the game a little bit."
In the meantime, Karlsson is thrilled to have his name is on the same trophy as fellow Swede Nick Lidstrom.
"It's not something that I counted on," he said. "It just feels really good. I've never been this nervous before. In one way it's very frustrating because I want to be who I normally am, but its very big.
"Being here, seeing everybody and being around the best players in the league is something I know I'm not going to be a part of every year.
"It might even be a one time thing, you never know. I'm just going to try and enjoy everything as much as I can. It's just a great honour. I'm very appeciative of everything that's been happening in this city."
Did he maybe sign that contract one day too early?
"No," he laughed. "I'm very happy with how everything turned out. It's just a special feeling right now."
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