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Karlsson: 'Maybe I was a pirate in a previous life'

by Craig Medaglia @craigmedaglia / Ottawa Senators

Erik Karlsson has donned a "C" for the Ottawa Senators since 2014 but rolled into the NHL All-Star Skills Competition like a completely different kind of captain last night.

Karlsson, along with friend and countryman Victor Hedman, arrived at Amalie Arena yesterday evening in full swashbuckling attire after the pair purchsed their outfits in the spirit of Gasparilla Pirate Festival. The annual event takes over Tampa Bay at the end of January and celebrates all things pirates and is synced up perfectly with the league's All-Star Weekend this year.

"I've never been down here during it so this is the first time I've seen all the people and the parade and everything," Karlsson said of the festivites. "It's pretty cool."

The pics, gifs and videos began to flow on social media as Captain Karlsson and his spot on pirate look was the talk of the Skills Competition pre-show.

"I like pirates for some reason...I don't know why," shared Karlsson. "Maybe I was a pirate in a previous life."

Instagram from @senators: The Captain. #NHLAllStar

On the ice, the Sens defenceman had a pretty light schedule during the league's best-on-best skills showcase as he only competed in the Save Streak and Puck Control Relay events where the new format gave a few of the players some trouble.

"It's not as easy as it looks especially in a setting like this," Karlsson said about the final leg of the Puck Control Relay. "Everybody is watching you, it's quiet and you start missing a few and you start overthinking stuff. It's almost easier to fail than it is to succeed. Credit to the guys that did a great job."

Karlsson chose the manual method of simply picking up and placing the puck on his stick but following the event he claimed it was more of a substance over style thing.

"I can't really pick up the puck on my stick like some of the other guys so I had no idea what to do," he said. "I thought that was the best way to do it since there were no real rules but I couldn't really do it at the end anyway. Maybe if I get the chance to do it again next year I'll come up with a new tactic."

Video: Puck Control Relay: Karlsson makes up his own rules

The weekend concludes today with the three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format, showcasing teams from each division competing for a $1 million winner-take-all prize pool and Karlsson is looking forward to playing alongside some of the league's best finishers on the Atlantic Division squad.

"I hope I can get out there with Kucherov and Stamkos since I'm not a big shooter myself," Karlsson said. "It'll be easy to just give them the puck and sit back a little bit."

The NHL All-Star game gets underway at 3:30 p.m. today in Tampa Bay and you can catch all the action on CBC, Sportsnet and TVAS.

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