Karlsson insists injury won’t affect performance

In his first day back on the ice in Ottawa, Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson said his left leg feels fine and won’t hinder his game this season.

Karlsson insists injury won’t affect performance
Erik Karlsson and Daniel Alfredsson skate at the Sensplex Monday. (Jana Chytilova/Ottawa Citizen)

Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson skated here Monday for the first time since last spring’s playoffs and said he was feeling just fine, thanks very much.

And so only weeks before NHL training camps begin, fans of the team keep their fingers crossed — with good reason.

It’s probably fair to say that as Karlsson goes this season, so go the Senators.

Just six months ago, Karlsson’s left Achilles tendon was partially severed in a Feb. 13 game in Pittsburgh, when Matt Cooke pinned him against the boards and cut him with his left skate.

Karlsson was supposed to be gone for the season, but he returned 10 weeks after he was injured to play three regular-season games and 10 games in two playoff series.

After the Senators were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, Karlsson conceded he was not 100 per cent recovered from the injury.

That was evident.

He initially looked great, and even scored in his first game back to help the Senators clinch a playoff berth with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals.

But as the playoffs wore on, he looked like he was worn out.

The 23-year-old Swede spent a good summer working out in Gothenburg at the facilities of his former club, the Frolunda Indians, and said his injured left leg is getting stronger with each practice.

But he raised eyebrows last week when, as he attended Sweden’s Olympics orientation camp in Stockholm, he told a reporter that his left foot still felt numb.

“The normal feeling isn’t there, but I’m getting used to not normal,” he said. “It’s not really connecting down there.”

However, after his skate at the Bell Sensplex on Monday, Karlsson sounded decidedly optimistic and didn’t believe he’d be encountering any setbacks.

“It feels good, actually,” he said. “I’m a little bit surprised myself.

“I’ve been able to do most of the normal stuff that I usually do in the summer.

“I’ve been trying to get it back as strong as quickly as possible, and as of right now I don’t think I will have any concerns going into training camp.”

Whether his left foot would continue to feel numb, he wasn’t sure.

“Ask me in a year or so,” he said. “We’ll see.”

But he was getting used to a “new” normal.

“Right now it feels normal to me even if it is not as it used to be,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to stop me from being a good hockey player and moving forward in my career.

“I don’t think I could feel any better than I do right now.”

On the subject of the team, Karlsson thought that even with the loss of close friend Daniel Alfredsson, the Senators have a stronger roster than they did last year, thanks to the addition of Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur.

Karlsson said he’ll obviously miss Alfredsson, but added he wasn’t surprised at what happened. Things change in professional hockey.

“He’s 40 years old,” said Karlsson. “This was coming anytime soon, anyway.

“I don’t think it’s that sudden.

“I’m just happy he’s still playing, and we have to move on.

“We have guys who are ready to take the next step, and as of right now everybody’s just excited to focus on our game and become a better team.

“Obviously on a personal level, for me it’s going to be tough. We’re close friends and he’s helped me out a lot.

“I only wished him all the best and I think we’ll still be friends.”

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