Karlsson overwhelmed by Norris win

Karlsson overwhelmed by Norris win

LAS VEGAS — Erik Karlsson is rarely at a loss for words and is always full of confidence.
Except for Wednesday night, that is.
The Ottawa Senators’ star defenceman was overwhelmed after being awarded the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman, beating out Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators in voting by NHL writers.
In a tight race, Karlsson received 66 first-place votes and 1,069 overall points. Weber had 49 first-place votes and 1,057 points, followed by Chara, who was voted first by 32 writers and 950 points.
“I don’t really think I understand everything that’s going on and probably didn’t give the best speech in the world (during the televised broadcast) or anything like that, but obviously I’m very happy and appreciate everything,” Karlsson said, choking back tears.
“It’s just a special feeling right now. I’m probably a little bit taken (aback). It’s not something that I counted on. I’m a little bit nervous. I’ve never been this nervous before, in this kind of way, and in one way it’s very frustrating because I want to be who I normally am.
“It’s very big and a great honour, and I will look back on (this) as being one of the best days of my life.”
If Wednesday was one of the best days, Tuesday wasn’t far behind, when he signed a seven-year, $45.5-million U.S. contract extension with the Senators.
Add it all up and his first trip to Las Vegas was a whirlwind of ridiculous success.
“I’ve seen a lot of good shows, had a lot of good dinners,” he said. “Being around the best players in the league, I know it’s something that’s not going to happen every year. It may even be a one-time thing. You never know. I’m going to try and enjoy it as much as I can.”
Yet, at 22, the future looks bright. Karlsson is the youngest player to win the honour since former New York Islanders and Ottawa 67’s star Denis Potvin won the first of his three Norris trophies in 1976.
After accepting the award, Karlsson paid tribute to both Chara and Weber. He also thanked the Senators organization — “they made me what I am today” — his teammates, his family and his fiancée, Therese. The two will be married in Sweden in two weeks, followed by the honeymoon.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who spoke with Karlsson on the way to the awards show, acknowledged that Karlsson was unusually nervous because “it’s a different kind of stage that he’s not used to,” and says the defenceman didn’t prepare a speech for fear of jinxing himself.
“But he deserves it, with the season he had,” Alfredsson said. “Numerous times in the year you watch the plays that he makes and you’re just laughing with the guys on the bench, saying, ‘Did you just see that?’”
Alfredsson walked away with an honour of his own, winning the King Clancy Trophy for leadership and contributions to the community. Earlier, he lost out to Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens in balloting for the Bill Masterton Trophy, recognizing perseverance and dedication to hockey.
“It’s important to teach the younger guys how important it is to be involved in a community that supports us so much, because we’re in a special capacity by being very public persons,” he said.
Senators coach Paul MacLean lost out to Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues in the voting for the Jack Adams Trophy as coach of the year, but Hitchcock paid MacLean the ultimate compliment after winning.
“I’m happiest for Mac,” he said. “I coached against Mac in the ’90’s and I thought he was the hardest guy I ever coached against. In the (International Hockey League), when he was in Peoria and I was in Kalamazoo, I thought every game felt like a playoff game. I thought, man, this guy is going to be a heck of a coach. Look how long it took him to get there. I was really happy for him.”
Former popular Senators centre Mike Fisher claimed the NHL Foundation Player Award, paying tribute to the core values of hockey and contributions to the community. Former Senators goaltender Brian Elliott shared the William Jennings Trophy with fellow St.Louis Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The honour goes to the goaltending tandem that posts the best goals-against average.
Former Ottawa 67’s defenceman Brian Campbell, now playing with the Florida Panthers, won the Lady Byng Trophy, which is given to the player best combining sportsmanship with outstanding play. Campbell is the first defenceman to win the honour since Red Kelly in 1954.
“It was fun to do the research,” Campbell said. “It’s crazy that it has been that long, but it’s pretty special to win.”
The awards night ended with Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins dedicating the league’s most valuable player award to Senators defenceman Sergei Gonchar. When Malkin broke into the NHL, Gonchar, then with the Penguins, took Malkin under his wing, teaching him about life and language in the NHL.
“When I come, it’s a different life, you know?” Malkin said. “I not speak English and he take care of me. Sergei Gonchar is great guy and unbelievable player. He (taught) me how hard it is to play. He’s my best friend here and thanks to him and his family. He always supported me.”
From start to finish, it was a big night for Senators defencemen, young and old.

Award Winners

James Norris
– Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Ted Lindsay – Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Jack Adams – Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues
Willam Jennings – Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues
Maurice Richard – Steve Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Art Ross – Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Calder – Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
General Manager of the Year – Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues
Frank Selke – Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Bill Masterton – Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
King Clancy – Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
NHL Foundation Player – Mike Fisher, Nashville Predators
Mark Messier Leadership – Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes
Lady Byng – Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers
Vezina – Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Hart – Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

How the votes broke down:
Hart Trophy (Most valuable player, voted on by writers): Winner, Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins 1,473 points (144 first-place votes); Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, 598 (1); Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers 556 (3)
Vezina Trophy (Best goaltender, voted on by GMs): Winner, Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, 17 first-place votes, 11 seconds, two thirds; Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings 6-9-6; Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators, 4-4-10
Norris Trophy (Best defenceman, voted on by writers): Winner, Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators 1,069 (66 firsts); Shea Weber, Nashville Predators, 1,057 (49); Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins, 950 (32).
Lady Byng Trophy (Sportsmanship, gentlemanly high standard of play, voted on by writers): Winner, Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers 582 (33 firsts); Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers, 518 (18); Matt Moulson, New York Islanders, 517 (13).
Bill Masterton Trophy (Perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey): Winner, Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens; Finalists, Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs; Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
Frank Selke Award (Best defensive forward, voted on by writers): Winner, Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins 1,312 (106); David Backes, St. Louis Blues, 698 (24); Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings, 553 (8)
General manager of the year (voted on by panel): Winner, Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues 16-11-6; Dale Tallon, Florida Panthers, 10-11-5; David Poile, Nashville Predators, 11-1-4.
Calder Trophy (Top rookie, voted on by writers): Winner, Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche, 1,383 (116); Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers, 1,001 (26); Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils, 620 (3).
Jack Adams Award (Top head coach, voted on by broadcasters): Winner, Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues 63-11-7; John Tortorella, New York Rangers, 5-23-14; Paul MacLean, Ottawa Senators, 4-19-12.
Ted Lindsay Award (Most outstanding player, voted on by the players): Winner, Evgeni Malkin. Finalists, Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers; Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning.
King Clancy Award (Leadership and contribution to hockey): Winner Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators

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