At the start of the season, Marcus Pettersson spoke about how there’s a phrase that Swedes use for people who are from the friendly city of Gothenberg, go och glad, which translates to ‘good and happy.’

And even though Erik Karlsson didn’t grow up in Gothenberg, moving there as a teenager to play for the Frölunda organization, he seems like a native to Pettersson – as that term describes the defenseman perfectly.

“He’s the essence of that,” Pettersson said. “He’s coming to the rink and he’s got energy, and you feed off of that.”

“It’s one thing you notice right away,” Sidney Crosby said. “I think you need that. You have different personalities on every team, but he brings a lot of fun, a lot of energy. That’s so important. It’s a great trait to have, and it’s definitely something that’s been welcomed here.”

As Karlsson’s teammates from over the years have discussed his legacy as part of his 1,000 games milestone, his individuality – “he’s a funny guy, very outspoken guy, very loud,” Alex Nedeljkovic said with a grin – often got brought up.

Karlsson has always been unapologetically himself from the moment he entered the Senators locker room as a 19-year-old kid after Ottawa drafted him in 2008, breaking the mold in every sense.

“He did little things differently, like, he tied his skates looser than everyone… he just had some things that made him very unique, and I guess when you're in a locker room and you see somebody come in new and they're unique, it gets everyone's attention quickly, for sure,” said Penguins assistant general manager Jason Spezza, who played with Karlsson in Ottawa before being reunited in Pittsburgh.

When the Senators first drafted Karlsson, longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson remembers the late Bryan Murray, Ottawa’s GM at the time, saying “Unfortunately, Alfie, you probably won’t be playing with him, you will probably be retired by the time he’s in the league.’”

But Karlsson came in quicker than expected, and ended up playing four seasons with Alfredsson, who was the best man at his wedding. “I think he helped me prolong my career with his youthfulness and enthusiasm, and he made it fun to go to the rink every day,” Alfredsson said.

Now, in this locker room, Pettersson said, “something funny we always talk about is he thinks everybody in this locker room is absolutely nuts for their superstitions and routines and stuff like that. He’s the complete opposite. He doesn’t care about that.”

Pettersson confirmed that it’s not a situation where Karlsson says he doesn’t care, but actually cares a lot (see: Sidney Crosby). “He always tries to get in people’s heads. He always tries to screw with guys,” said Pettersson, who sits next to Karlsson in the locker room. “I stand up at a certain time before the game, and he always tries to get my attention and say something so I miss the time to stand up.”

Oftentimes, Pettersson also sits next to Karlsson to eat lunch, and said Erik’s meal is… one-of-a-kind.

“It’s like, ranch soup,” Pettersson said. “Always the first question on the road is, do you have real ranch? We usually bring avocado oil ranch, and he likes the real ones. That’s the first question. He always comes up to me and is like, can you ask for real ranch? He has chicken with ranch, and spaghetti with meat sauce and ketchup… it’s all over the place.”

Clearly, whatever Karlsson does is working for him, as he’s put together a Hall-of-Fame career.

For Spezza and Alfredsson, seeing the man Erik has grown into, while holding onto that zest for life and the game – “he loves people, loves conversation, and loves hockey,” Mike Sullivan said – has been one of the best parts of the journey.

“He’s a very caring person. I think he was great with our kids, and I see how he's around his kids now, that's heartwarming to see that he's a good father and good friend and just a good person,” Alfredsson said.

“I think that's really cool for me to see just the maturation of him,” Spezza agreed. “I know he cares a lot about his family and his family life. (When you get in these) situations, the questions are very different than the questions I would’ve got 10 years ago or however many years ago that was that we played together. It’s going by too quick. But it's just a very different person for me now to be around. In a way, he still has that youthful enthusiasm and energy, but in another way, he's really matured and become a great father and husband.”