As expected, the Ottawa Senators welcomed Erik Karlsson back to town with a video tribute Saturday. And as expected, it was an emotional moment.
The crowd at Canadian Tire Centre gave the now-Sharks defenseman a standing ovation as a well-packaged video rolled on the center ice cube midway through the first period.
Ottawa gives Karlsson a great tribute pic.twitter.com/1nrBms1PWy— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) December 1, 2018
Cameras caught Karlsson watching the video from the visitors’ bench, before he hopped on the ice to wave to Senators fans. Although Karlsson kept a straight face as the video rolled, he flashed an appreciative smile.
The cameras also cut to his wife, Melinda, in the crowd, and she looked as though she was trying not to cry. Right after the tribute, she tweeted a revealing message.
Anyone have 300 boxes of Kleenex i can borrow? 💔— Melinda Karlsson (@MelindaCurrey) December 1, 2018
"It's been great," Karlsson told NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker during the first intermission. "I see this as something that's fun and excited. It's obviously a lot of different emotions, and it feels very different to be on the other side of things, but at the end of the day, this is a life-long memory, and something I'm always going to hold very dear."
Karlsson gives his first impressions of the video tribute and from the action in the 1st period pic.twitter.com/zjQ6Fg9MYX— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) December 1, 2018
The build-up to Karlsson’s return to Ottawa has been going for nearly a week now. While addressing the media Friday ahead of the highly anticipated Sharks-Sens meeting, the two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman admitted the reunion likely would be an emotional one.
“I don’t really know what to expect, to be honest with you,” Karlsson said. “I think it’s going to be a little bit emotional. How it’s going to play out, I’m not really sure. I haven’t really tried to overthink it too much.”