FILE - In this March 9, 2017, file photo, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period during an NHL hockey game in Glendale, Ariz. The San Jose Sharks have acquired two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Senators, the teams announced Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. ( AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Ottawa hockey fans sorry to see captain Karlsson go

Star defender traded to San Jose

OTTAWA — Hockey fans in Ottawa reacted to the news that Senators star defenceman Erik Karlsson had been traded with everything from sorrow to more-measured responses — hate to see him go, but it had to be done.

The Senators shipped Karlsson, the team’s captain, to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday for four players and draft picks.

The team struggled last season and many supporters on the streets of downtown Ottawa on Thursday said it was a clear sign that a rebuild is necessary — which means it was also time for a high-priced player like Karlsson to move on.

Either way, it was difficult for them to say goodbye to the smooth-skating fan favourite, who is among the best blueliners in the game.

“I’m heartbroken,” said Matt Melbourne, a self-described “huge Sens fan” who happened to be wearing a red Senators T-shirt when someone told him about the trade.

“Maybe I’d be better off cheering for another team. It will take me a long time to get over it.”

His sister texted him as soon as she found about the trade and told him she was fighting back tears. Karlsson, she told him, was the only reason why she loved the team.

When asked about what Ottawa got in return, Melbourne called it “scrap, nothing, absolute garbage.” He said he follows hockey closely and he hadn’t heard any of the names before.

“Compared to what he’s worth? Absolutely nothing,” said Melbourne, whose shirt was emblazoned with the number and name of forward Mike Hoffman, whom the Sens traded in June.

Coincidentally, Hoffman and Karlsson have an alleged connection that may have a played a role in their trades. In the spring, news surfaced that Karlsson’s wife had filed a peace bond against Monika Caryk, Hoffman’s fiancee, for alleged cyberbullying.

Hoffman, who was traded a week later, and Caryk have denied the allegations. A civil suit is ongoing.

Kyle Schlathau sees the Karlsson trade as a positive for the 28-year-old from Sweden, especially as the Sens begin what he considers a long-term rebuilding phase. Karlsson played nine seasons in Ottawa.

“He’s going to go somewhere and have a better chance to win a cup,” said Schlathau, who thinks the franchise as a whole is facing existential challenges.

He said the club has little choice but to move its home arena to the downtown core from its current location in suburban Kanata — and it has to get started on it soon. Otherwise, he wonders if the team will still be around in five years because lots of people are tired of driving so far — and often through rush-hour traffic — to catch a game.

Others said by trading away someone as good as Karlsson the team has parted ways with one of those rare players that can sell tickets on his own.

Talk about the Karlsson trade also veered into discussion about the team’s controversial owner, Eugene Melnyk.

Last season, Melnyk angered Ottawa fans by musing to reporters that he might move the club if ticket sales didn’t pick up. His comments led to the creation of the #MelnykOut hashtag on Twitter, which prompted him to eventually backtrack on his chatter about relocation.

Asked about Melnyk, Melbourne said it was time to get him “out of here.” He said he’s still upset with how the club handled former star players like Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Re-Greta-bly, Thunberg won’t visit Victoria, despite Olympic athlete ready to row her over

Climate activist clarified Tuesday night she won’t have time to visit the Island

Alcohol available onboard BC Ferries starting Thursday

Beer and wine sales begin at 11 a.m. on select Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay sailings

Investigation probes old growth logging in remote Vancouver Island valley

Forestry ministry denies claims auctioned timber violates protective status

Faster response may have prevented fatal outcome at B.C. trampoline park

Coroner’s report rules Greater Victoria father Jay Greenwood’s death accidental

Saanich Gulf-Islands’s Elizabeth May coy about leadership plans

The federal Green party leader talks possibility of running as MP without being leader

VIDEO: Is the stethoscope dying? High-tech options pose threat

World-renowned cardiologist believes the device is just a pair of ‘rubber tubes’

B.C. parents sue city and province in 12-year-old daughter’s drowning at lake

Beverly Park drowned at Rotary Lake in Dawson Creek in August 2016

CUPE members serve 72-hour strike notice to Saanich School District

Members seeking comparable wages to other South Island school districts

VIDEO: Chill with polar bears through an Arctic live cam

Cam reopens just ahead of Polar Bear Week

Aquilini companies deny negligence in U.S. vineyard fire that killed two kids

Fire occurred at Red Mountain Vineyard, located in southeast Washington State

Surrey cop killer gets new parole conditions

Surrey RCMP Constable Roger Pierlet, 23, was shot dead on March 29, 1974

Former Kelowna Hells Angels associate could be deported, court rules

David Revell has lost his fight against deportation from Canada

Most Read