|Erik Karlsson is making the most of the extra ice time and opportunity he's getting with the AHL's Binghamton Senators (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
needs only a few words to sum up the basics of his new hockey life with the Binghamton Senators.
"Just wake up, work hard and go to sleep," the 19-year-old Swedish defenceman said with a grin in describing his typical daily routine with the Ottawa Senators' primary affiliate in the American Hockey League.
If anything, the brevity of that statement underscores the singular purpose with which he is approaching his current assignment to the minors. Karlsson, the Senators' top pick (15th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was stunned by his demotion to the farm on Oct. 27. But three games into his stint with the B-Sens, the sting has worn off and it's back to business for him.
"I think I’m over it already," Karlsson said earlier today after the Binghamton Senators' practice in advance of their matchup with the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday (3 p.m., Rogers 22) at Scotiabank Place. "My job is to play hockey and, obviously, I want to be up here (in Ottawa). If they want me to go down and play there – if that’s what it takes to get up here and play more games – then I have to do that. And that’s what I’m going to do.
"I just have to work on my game, I think. Practise hard and work hard every day and play well."
Binghamton head coach Don Nachbaur believes Karlsson is quickly handling the adjustment to the grind of the AHL and is approaching it with the right attitude.
"He's been positive from my standpoint," said Nachbaur. "Any time you go from the National Hockey League to the American league, you go through those moments where you wonder 'why has this happened to me?' I think he's adjusting well and only time will tell. His first game was an eye-opener (but) he's going to keep getting better as each game goes by."
Naturally, Karlsson is looking forward to his return to Scotiabank Place – the building in which he was drafted, starred for Sweden at the 2009 world junior hockey championship and played the first nine games of his National Hockey League career.
"It's going to be fun," said Karlsson, who has one assist in three games so far with the B-Sens. "I love playing in that building. It's a great opportunity for all the guys to show up (and display their talent)."
Karlsson isn't exactly among strangers in Binghamton. He's been through two Senators development camps in Ottawa with a number of the team's prospects who are now his teammates with the B-Sens.
"I knew (a lot) of the guys from before," he said. "I like playing hockey, so I can do it down there and it's good. I can't complain."
"My job is to play hockey and obviously, I want to be up here (in Ottawa). If they want me to go down and play there – if that’s what it takes to get up here and play more games – then I have to do that. And that’s what I’m going to do. I just have to work on my game, I think. Practise hard and work hard every day and play well." - Erik Karlsson
Life in Binghamton, N.Y., isn't exactly the same as in Ottawa or Goteborg, where he played last season for the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite League.
"It's way different," he said. "It's a different game and a different lifestyle, for sure."
For the time being, it's back to hotel living for Karlsson, who did the same in Ottawa until Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
welcomed him into his home at the start of training camp in September. Karlsson still benefits from the words of wisdom supplied by his fellow countryman.
"We try to talk as often as we can, after every game," said Karlsson. "It's good for me. He just tells me to play well. That's the thing I need to do. I need to play well."
There has already been talk about Karlsson lining up for Sweden again at the 2010 world juniors in Saskatoon and Regina. But while he's open to the idea – and has the blessing of Senators management, if he's still in Binghamton when the tournament begins – Karlsson would rather spend the Christmas holiday season somewhere else if it's possible.
"If I’m not going to play (at the world juniors), I won’t be too sad, because hopefully (it means) I’ll be back up here by then," said Karlsson. "I’m trying to do what I’ve been doing for six months now – just take it day by day and see what happens. Anything can happen."
For the time being, he’s making the most of his time on the farm.
“I play a lot down here and it’s fun,” he said. “I think it’s good for me to get a lot of minutes and I’m used to getting a lot of minutes. I’ve got the minutes I need and the minutes I deserve.”