Immediately following the trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks, the defenseman spoke to the media and among other things, said regardless of the speculation, he never wanted to leave.
"I never wanted to leave this place," and, "I think that they made it very clear in what direction they were going with. Unfortunately, I wasn't part of that. I respect that, it's their decision," were among just a few of the comments Karlsson made when he addressed the press on Thursday. It was the first time Karlsson spoke despite months of talk about his looming departure. It was also a clear sign the Senators were kickstarting a rebuild sending their best player out of the organization.
While many believed Karlsson joining another team was inevitable, he was clearly emotional when addressing the topic of his being traded. He thanked the Senators, the city of Ottawa, his teammates and former players who helped mold him along his path in the NHL. He added that despite where he played, he would be a resident of Ottawa forever.
Karlsson mentioned that while he knew there was plenty of discussion of his being moved, he hadn't prepared a statement nor really wrapped his mind around what was going on. He added, "I never in my wildest imagination ever thought that I would leave this place, but unfortunately we're here under these circumstances." He called it "sad."
Immediately after the trade, fans of the Senators were upset with the return and even though the organization was bound to lose the best player in the deal, most insiders believed San Jose essentially stole Karlsson by offering a return that takes little from their team today and makes them immediate contenders. Karlsson arguably gives them the best blue line in the NHL and because he agreed to the trade, it is assumed he will re-sign with the Sharks on a long-term deal.
Meanwhile, Senators GM Pierre Dorion insisted the reason the trade was made one day before Karlsson could have taken the ice for Senators' training camp was that the team finally got the return they were waiting for.
Whether or not Karlsson actually wanted to be part of a rebuild is unclear but as he closed the press conference and held back tears, it became evident he believed he would be part of the organization his entire career.