Tre Kronor Swede on Karlsson

There’s little surprise that Erik Karlsson was named to Sweden’s Olympic team on Tuesday.

Tre Kronor Swede on Karlsson
Sweden's Erik Karlsson (R) and Daniel Alfredsson celebrate their team's first goal during the group S IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship match between Russia and Sweden at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, on May 11, 2012. AFP PHOTO / SCANPIX SWEDEN / Claudio Bresciani

DENVER — There’s little surprise that Erik Karlsson was named to Sweden’s Olympic team on Tuesday.

What is surprising is that Karlsson chose not to talk to the media about a shining moment in his young career, the chance to represent his country in the world’s greatest showcase of hockey talent.

The Senators’ dynamic 23-year-old defenceman has refused media requests for the past week, mum on all subjects ever since Dec. 31, when he tweeted, “2013 sucks. Worst year ever. Let’s go 2014. Happy New Years Everybody.”

The year included having his Achilles sliced by Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke and the departure of his great friend and mentor Daniel Alfredsson to the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent.

Tuesday afternoon, a team representative did speak to Karlsson about his inclusion on Sweden’s Olympic roster and forwarded the quotes.

“Obviously, I’m very proud and it’s something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and you know, ever since you were a kid, you’ve been dreaming about this day and it’s going to be a great experience and hopefully be something good for us,” he said.

Karlsson said he has known he would be on the team for several days, allowing him to focus his attention on helping get the Senators back into a playoff spot.

“Hopefully, I can stay healthy and do well for the remainder of the games in the NHL and go into the Olympics with good confidence.”

The Swedes, which also boast Alfredsson and fellow former Senator Jakob Silfverberg, are generally considered to be among the favourites to win gold in Sochi. Karlsson suggests as many as “five or six” teams have a chance to win it all.

“It’s going to be a battle, especially with the travel and everything, but it’s the same conditions for everyone,” he told the team representative. “We have to make sure that we get it going for the first game against the Czechs.”

The Czech Republic, interestingly enough, will feature Karlsson’s current teammate, left winger Milan Michalek. Michalek acknowledges he has not been happy with his season so far — he has seven goals and 12 assists in 44 games — but says the coaching staff included him because of his international experience, including representing the Czechs at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

“I talked to the coach (Alois Hadamczik) three times this year and he said I was going to be on the team, so I knew it before, but it’s still good to hear (officially),” Michalek said following the Senators’ Tuesday practice at The Big Bear Arena in Denver in preparation for Wednesday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. “He knows me, he knows what I can do and it’s on the big ice, too, so it’s going to be exciting. We’re obviously not one of the favourites, but we can surprise, I guess.”

While Karlsson and Michalek will be busy playing hockey in Sochi, Senators defenceman Marc Methot will not be part of the Canadian squad. Methot attended the 44-player evaluation camp in August and was considered a long-shot to make the team, but there was naturally disappointment when Brad Pascall, Hockey Canada’s vice president of hockey operations, called him Tuesday morning to give him the news.

“Once you’re at this level, you’re not used to hearing that you’re not good enough for a team, you know what I mean?” Methot said. “It’s a heck of a hockey team to be able to make, but as a player, I’m still competitive and I would like to think I could play there at that level. So, it’s just the way I am.

“You look at the depth and you completely understand. It’s going to be a stellar hockey club. I tried to play as well as I could this year and last year, so that’s all I can control.”

Senators captain Jason Spezza, who was part of the Canadian reserve squad which went to the Olympics in Italy in 2006, suggests Methot would have had a serious shot at making the team if the Senators were better in the first half of the season.

“A guy like him, a defensive defenceman, if we’re doing really well, he’s going to get more attention,” said Spezza. “Maybe we let him down a little bit by having a bad start to the season and took him out of the radar.”

As for Karlsson, Spezza joked about it being a huge surprise that Sweden chose him.

“He’s probably the best offensive defenceman in the world, so I’m sure they’re happy to have him,” he said.

Senators goaltender Robin Lehner, a close friend of Karlsson’s who missed out on his chance to represent Sweden, figures Karlsson “will thrive in the Olympic game” while surrounded by Alfredsson and the rest of the best from Sweden.

“He really likes the guys, the guys really like him,” said Lehner. “Especially on the big ice, he’s so fast and he has such great vision, if he gets a little more ice, he will be great on it.”

REMEMBER WHEN?

In addition to Alfredsson and Silfverberg, there are seven other ex-Senators players (those who have played a single game in an Ottawa uniform) who will be at the Olympics. They include Slovaks Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa and Andrej Meszaros, Roman Wick and Julien Vauclair of Switzerland, Finland’s Sami Salo and Latvia’s Kaspars Daugavins. Can’t wait for the shootout.

Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren

Tags:

What do you think? Leave a comment