Although the incidents came under much different circumstances and in a different season, the results are much the same. On January 1, 2011 at the New Years Day Winter Classic, Sidney Crosby was nailed by a blindside hit causing him to miss the rest of that season and then derailed much of his 2012 season.
During that time the NHL and its fans were forced to watch as the best player in the world sat in the press box time and time again with great uncertainty of when he would return.
In last night’s game between Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, NHL fans were dealt another blow when Sens star defenceman Erik Karlsson had his achillies cut by a skate and is now sidelined indefinitely.
The devestating injury could not come at a worse time for the Senators who have already lost the club’s best forward Jason Spezza for much of the season. And while the injury to Karlsson obviously affects the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club the most, his absence will also be felt throughout the game by fans who will not be able to watch the player deemed by some recently to be the new ‘best player in the world.’
Coming off a remarkable season where he racked up 78 points en route to winning the Norris Trophy and joining a list of just two other players (Bobby Orr and Denis Potvin) who won the award under the age of 23, Karlsson was on track to again be highly considered for the award as he went into last night’s game leading the league in shots on goal as well as leading all NHL defencemen in goals with 6.
Apart from the eye-popping numbers, the 22-year-old Swede is simply a marvel to watch. Possessing an ability to control and dominate the game from the back-end that rivals the likes of Hall of Fame defencemen such as Nik Lidstrom, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey and dare I say Bobby Orr, Karlsson is the type of player that even the most die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan would have to admit to enjoy watching. With his speed, puck control and intelligence, the beauty and ease in which Karlsson plays with often makes it look like he is a grown man competing among 10-year-olds as opposed to playing in the top hockey league in the world. While it is tough to commit to saying that he is the best player in the league with the likes of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the prime of their careers, saying that Karlsson is the best player to watch is certainly not at all hard to get on board with.
Early speculation is that he will miss the rest of the season and while that is terrible news for the Senators, their fans and of course Karlsson himself, the entire NHL suffered a big loss in last night’s game. When Crosby was out with his concussion problems, although there were still the other NHL stars to help fill his void, there was always the thought that something was missing in the back of your mind.
The 2012-2013 season will go on and will feature great moments from the league’s many stars, but the thought of #65 of the Ottawa Senators will unfortunately remain just that; a thought.