|Erik Karlsson's parents have travelled from Sweden to Ottawa for their first glimpse at his new hockey home. They'll also attend his first two regular-season games at Scotiabank Place tonight and Saturday (Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images).
Like many of his teammates, Erik Karlsson
expects to feel some goosebumps when he hits the ice tonight at Scotiabank Place.
But the excitement of the Senators' home-opener tonight against the New York Islanders is merely the tip of the iceberg for the 19-year-old Karlsson, who is also making his home-ice debut in an Ottawa uniform.
"This is a very big game for me," said the rookie Senators defenceman, who was drafted into the National Hockey League in the same building back in June 2008. "It’s going to be my first real game here in this arena. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time."
But Karlsson won't be alone in soaking up everything that this night has to offer. In the stands will be a proud set of parents who have journeyed from Sweden to Ottawa for the first time, eager as can be to support their son's biggest hockey dream.
Jonas Karlsson and his wife, Ulla-Karin, have followed Karlsson's NHL aspirations from afar until now. But they will be at Scotiabank Place tonight and again on Saturday, when the Senators take on the Atlanta Thrashers. Karlsson's 15-year-old sister, Micaela, has also made her first overseas trip for the occasion.
What a family reunion this will be, indeed.
"Difficult question," Karlsson said with a grin when asked whether his family might be even more excited than him about this moment. "I think they’re very excited. They were very happy yesterday when they came in (from their hometown of Landsbro, Sweden). They’ve never been here before and it’s a big thing for them to come over here and see how I live and where I play."
The Karlssons went out for a family dinner on Wednesday night. They planned to see a little bit of Kanata today before attending Erik's game tonight. Ottawa has impressed them so far.
"They feel that it’s very similar to Sweden," said Karlsson. "Everybody they’ve met has been very polite and very nice, so I think they’ve liked what they’ve seen so far. I think the more they see, the more they’re going to like it."
"I think they’re very excited. They were very happy yesterday when they came in. They’ve never been here before and it’s a big thing for them to come over here and see how I live and where I play." - Erik Karlsson
He also believes his parents are comforted by the fact that Senators captain, a fellow Swede and Frolunda Indians alumnus, has taken Karlsson into his home since the beginning of training camp.
"They know that I’m in good hands," said Karlsson. "It must be good for them to know where I am all the time and that I always have someone to rely on and to ask questions if there are any problems. They’re very pleased with where I’m staying now."
And Karlsson couldn't be happier to have them on hand for his first NHL game at Scotiabank Place. He's been away from home since the middle of the summer, chasing his NHL dream. Now it is so very real for him and his family.
"It means a lot because they’ve never been here and I’ve been here quite awhile and I’ve been here a few times," said Karlsson, whose standout play helped Sweden claim the silver medal at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa. "It’s very important for them to be here and for me as well."