Erik Karlsson was introduced to the Pittsburgh media on Wednesday, and he left a lasting impression.
“The Penguins have a winning streak. I’m the first to know with the number of times I’ve been knocked out by this group, replied the last Norris Trophy recipient, whether Pittsburgh can still aspire to top honors. They are still as good and know what it takes to win. I believe that we can accomplish great things together. “
While lining up for the Ottawa Senators in 2017, the Pens knocked out Karlsson and his gang in overtime in Game 7 of the East Final. Pittsburgh went on to defeat the Predators in six games to claim a second consecutive title. Six years later, he lives up to the adage “if you can’t beat them, join them”.
“If everyone plays to their abilities this season, I think we’re going to be fighting for the Stanley Cup. It’s what we all play for after all. “
Erik Karlsson has offered an outstanding performance this season with the Sharks, the 29th best team in the NHL. The Swede completed the 2022-23 campaign with 25 goals and 101 points and was named best defender for the third time in his career. He became only the sixth defenseman to reach 100 points and the first since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.
“I haven’t been this healthy in a long time. I also believe that my family, with the older children, is more settled than before. It makes everything in my life more enjoyable. I’m mentally and physically at the top, and I found pleasure in playing hockey. I have fun on the ice. “
And despite criticism to this effect, the 33-year-old defender does not intend to change his style of play with his new team.
“I started playing hockey to get the puck on my paddle. I still have the sting for the attack and I intend to play this way until the end of my career”, joked Karlsson.
However, in Pittsburgh, Karlsson joins a group that already includes Kris Letang, an offensive back at the top of his game in the Bettman circuit for more than a decade. His arrival in the Steel City has many parallels with his landing in San Jose in 2018, which bet on Brent Burns at the time. Several rumors even wanted the tall bearded man to be at loggerheads with Karlsson, rumors that the main interested party immediately denied.
“I don’t believe in hearsay. Brent Burns and I are actually very good friends. On the other hand, with the results that the team knew in San Jose, it is certain that friction was born in the locker room because we all expected more. As long as we win games, I don’t believe there are any problems,” EK65 replied on the partnership and possible friendship he will form with Kris Letang.
Moreover, Karlsson and Letang already know each other a little thanks to the many star games or the various events organized by the NHL. The same goes for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
In Pittsburgh, number 65 will also find Andreas Johnsson, who briefly wore the colors of the Sharks last year. The right-handed defender also admitted to having met Rickard Rakell in various national team camps. He also knows Alexander Nylander, but admitted “having played more with the father than the boys, which does not make me any younger”. Lars Eller, signed on July 1, also rubbed shoulders with Karlsson as the two played for the Frolunda club before arriving in North America.
“I’m happy to come to a dressing room with so many familiar faces. “
Karlsson also wanted to highlight the great class of the Sharks organization and Mike Grier, who went out of their way to grant him his greatest wish, “a chance to lift the Stanley Cup!” “