Karlsson is back in Ottawa — for now

The NHL’s reigning Norris Trophy winner acknowledges being a bit out of sorts these days. As anxious as Erik Karlsson is to get going on a new season, there’s that little thing called an NHL lockout looming in the background.

Karlsson is back in Ottawa  — for now

The NHL’s reigning Norris Trophy winner acknowledges being a bit out of sorts these days.

As anxious as Erik Karlsson is to get going on a new season, there’s that little thing called an NHL lockout looming in the background.

“Walking around the house for a very long time can get you confused sometimes,” Karlsson said Tuesday, taking part in his first informal skate since returning to Ottawa from Sweden. “(A lockout) isn’t something I think anyone wants, but that’s the way it is right now. We can prepare ourselves for everything to start the way it’s supposed to, and if we get to the deadline, we’ll take it from there. For now, it’s like a normal pre-season.”

NHL training camps are scheduled to open on Sept. 21, but an NHL lockout will kick in if the league and the players’ association haven’t agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement when the current deal expires Sept. 15. Right now, the sides aren’t even talking.

NHL organizations are making lockout plans. The Senators have already notified some employees that they’ll be laid off if the league locks out players, but the team won’t publicly comment on CBA negotiations or the potential implications for its staff.

Karlsson understands the issues and the importance of working out a solid agreement — “we don’t want to see anything like this within the next couple of years again,” he said — but he’s uncertain of his next step if the lights are turned off in NHL arenas.

Originally, Karlsson thought he would be able to return to his native Sweden, but the top two professional leagues in Sweden have announced they will not accept locked out NHL players unless they’re willing to agree to play for a full season.

“We don’t have that many options,” he said. “Russia is one, but I don’t know if you want to go there. We’ll see about that. Switzerland is going to be hard. They only have so many imports on each team. Maybe the Swedish League changes its mind once (a lockout) gets closer.”

Fellow Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, who was part of the players’ group which attended talks in New York, is frustrated that the league hasn’t responded to the latest counter-offer from the players’ association.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “After we want back to them on Friday and made concessions, it didn’t seem to get us anywhere. We’ll see what happens this week, how long they go without talking, but some of the guys are starting down there and they’re available, they want to get things going.”

So far, Phillips says the players have been willing to compromise more than the owners.

“We started with the current system and negotiated down from that,” he said. “Every proposal we’ve made…the first one was better than the current system and the last one was better than that proposal. From their side, they came at us with with a fictitious number that was way out of line and made some concessions from that.”

Phillips isn’t sure what happens next.

“I don’t know if (the ball) is in anyone’s court,” he said. “We’ve made it clear and we’ll reach out again this week to say ‘we’re here, we’re available if you want to talk.’ But we can all agree that nothing’s going to get done if we’re all sitting on the sidelines.”

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