Erik Karlsson is the talk of Canada once again.
Karlsson’s scorching-hot start — he leads all NHL defensemen with 11 goals and 32 points — has fueled rampant trade rumors around the 32-year-old defenseman.
San Jose Hockey Now saw that in the throng of reporters surrounding the San Jose Sharks blueliner this morning. This wasn’t the case last year, when the Evander Kane suspension was topic du jour for the Montreal media, and we spoke with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Logan Couture, and Timo Meier.
Welcome to Montreal, there was a similar throng around Vlasic earlier pic.twitter.com/dIlVpJETop
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) November 29, 2022
Karlsson, however, isn’t stressing the speculation, and it shows on the ice.
“I’ve been around it before, so it’s not something that really affects me,” he said today, echoing what he told San Jose Hockey Now two weeks ago. He was referring to playing hockey in Canada, and specifically about the trade rumors that dogged his last year with the Ottawa Senators in 2017-18.
As for GM Mike Grier acknowledging that he’s listening on Karlsson? The star defenseman, once again, noted that he has no problem with it.
“I think Griersy has done a great job ever since he came in. You can tell that he’s very driven, and he knows what he needs to do to move this organization forward,” Karlsson told reporters. “And in order to do that, he has to have an open mind, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
He also doesn’t think the trade rumors are necessarily hurting the team: “If anything, it’s a good thing because it’s going to push the guys to figure out what they really want.”
Chances are, Karlsson repeats some variety of these statements in Toronto and Ottawa this week.
As for his smoking start?
“I don’t think that I put any more or less effort that I have in other previous years,” Karlsson said. “I don’t think that I’ve done anything different that I have in the past. I haven’t found a new method or anything special.
“I still feel like I can do the things that I used to do off the ice when I was younger, and on the ice as well.”
He added that the San Jose Sharks locker room still feels good, despite their slow start, and that’s helped him too: “We still enjoy each other’s company. We’re trying to play the way that you we feel we need to to be successful. We just have to find a consistent basis of it.
“But I think that’s one of the big reasons. I’m just happy in life in general.”
San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn added: “One of the things that I think he’s kind of embraced is a new responsibility with where we’re at as an organization and not only what you’re seeing on the ice, but the things that he’s done away from the rink…When you are the impactful player that he is, there is a lot of responsibility that goes with that, and he’s just been phenomenal on and off the ice.”
For now, Karlsson is patient, even though his personal revival hasn’t coincided with a revival in the 7-13-4 San Jose Sharks’ fortunes.
“We haven’t been winning for a couple of years,” Karlsson said, noting that the losing is taking some of the joy away from his personal success. “It takes some time before you start figuring out what makes you successful and then how you replicate that and keep that on a consistent level.”
“There’s opportunity for him to really kind of take hold of our team and kind of lead it in a different way than he probably has before, and he certainly has embraced that,” Quinn said.
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