Yesterday Erik Karlsson was made availabe to the media for the first time since his Achilles injury. Portions of that press conference (the interesting portions) I've transcribed below.
As always, my thoughts in bold.
How are you feeling?
“Pretty good, I think. The last few days, it has been really better and I can feel the foot.”
Can you bring us back to the day of and what was going through your mind at the time of the situation?
“I mean, I think it’s a normal situation. The puck came around the corner and I was going to get it and I had a guy behind me. And I knew exactly who it was, so I was taking a bit of caution. You know, he missed the hit and still got me somehow.”
The Erik Karlsson "I mean" count is officially at one.
Did you feel that it was deliberate?
“I think the situation could have been prevented. I don’t think it would have happened if it was another type of player, but I don’t think it was his intention to cut me with his skate. I refuse to believe that anyone would do that. I still think the situation and the injury could have been prevented.”
Aside from the obvious point about wearing Kevlar socks, I think the point he's making about "another type of player" is just that bad incidents seem to follow certain players. As much as Cooke has been celebrated for being a "reformed player" I'm sure there are a good number of the players in the league who have history with him and think differently.
Matt Cooke said that he reached out to you, did you reciprocate?
“I received a text, didn’t think much of it, didn’t reply. I don’t think that we have anything to say to each other. I mean, he’s been after me before. I think he, ever since I got in the league, it’s one of the guys who you remember always playing against and always being aware of. It’s a freak incident but I think it’s still an injury that should not have happened.”
A chance to revisit a great tweet.
Matt Cooke goes to visit Karlsson in hospital but is still wearing his skates, accidentally cuts cord to an old man's life support machine.— woodmuffin (@woodmuffin) February 14, 2013
How do you think the injury could have been prevented?
“As soon as I see it’s him, I know what’s going on. I mean, I’ve been around long enough to know who’s going to hit you and who’s not. As I always do, I move in the last second and he misses me. And he still reaches for me, I lose my strap on my helmet. His hands are high and he reached out his leg, which I don’t think he has any reason to do. And that’s why it happened. He has full control of his body and he knows exactly what he’s doing out there, and that’s why I’m sitting here with my leg in a cast.”
"Stick and pin" gone wrong or the reckless Matt Cooke. Take your pick.
Do you feel pretty confident that you’ll be able to come back?
“I’ll be back, the question is when. For sure next season, I mean, it’s tough to say right now with my foot in the cast. So most of the time, I mean, I can’t do really do anything with it. But, I mean, the doctors did a great job and they said, I should have no problems going forward. So when I’ll be back, I’ll be one hundred percent and hopefully, even in better shape than I was before.”
Just have to hope he returns the same player. I've had thoughts about how effective Karlsson will be as he gets older and his skating advantage diminishes, hate to see that happen prematurely.
Do you have any hope for the possibility that you’ll be back this year?
“Yeah, I mean, the team is playing well. It’s pretty tough to watch to be honest with you. You know, when the guys are doing so well, you want to be out there and helping and be a part of everything. You know, you never know when that time comes, if we’re still in it and you know, I’m feeling good and healthy… I’m going to have to wait a couple of weeks I think to really know how long (the recovery) will really take. I mean, they say that everybody is different, as well. I was fortunate that the whole Achilles tendon wasn’t cut, and hopefully it could (heal) a little quicker than normal.”
Everbody is different. Different people have access to deer antler spray. Same thing.
Are you trying to stretch it out?
“Yeah, I mean, the foot is kind of like this in the downward position, so I can’t really move it up-and-down or to the sides, so that’s the biggest problem right now.”
Did anyone reach out to you?
“No, I don’t really know those guys, but I mean, obviously they have talked about it and you know, guys have told me. You know, some guys have had the same injury that has even been worse injuries than mine. And they’re back and playing great. I mean…I mean, they say it sucks in the beginning but for the long-term, it’s not that bad. I mean, you’re going to be one hundred percent and you know, you just got to do your rehab well and work hard every day and look forward. I have no problems with the kind of injury that I have for my future.”
As Karlsson said in a later appearance on the Team1200 in response to Selane's Achilles injury in 1994, "he's still pretty fast".
Had you tried the Kevlar sock and would you try it when you come back?
“Probably, no. I mean obviously, since this happened to me, I probably am going to (try it). I mean, I think it’s one of those things that we’re going to have to keep looking at it; try and develop something that will fit everybody. Right now, I think there’s one sort of Kevlar sock. It’s tough for everyone to wear it. I mean, everybody is different. I had no intentions of ever wearing it before. I mean, I don’t think it’s comfortable enough for me. You know, obviously this (injury) is going to change how I look on things and maybe more guys are getting their heads up for these kinds of things. I mean, it sucks to get cut. You know, hopefully going forward, some company will try and figure something out.”
It's gonna be pretty laughable if this happens to another Senator, let alone Karlsson again. Has to be a solution where a sock can be manufactured that satisfies any supposed comfort issues. In the meantime, tend to agree with people who say if you're an NHL owner mandate Kevlar sock use for your team and let the NHLPA grieve it.
Were you being chirped leaving the ice by the Pittsburgh bench after the injury?
“No, not at all. Not at all. I think that as soon as it happened, I knew exactly who was behind me. I kind of figured that this was… I don’t think that he did it on purpose as I said. I don’t think he meant to cut me. He meant to hit me hard and try to knock me out. I mean, I wasn’t happy when I stood up there that it happened that it happened. I got no chirps whatsoever from their bench.”
A reason why Karlsson is wary of Cooke and isn't giving him total benefit of the doubt here can be seen below, same part of the rink in November 2010.
The aftermath of which gave us the infamous EK finger-point stare.
What was your reaction to the league passing this off as an accident?
“Well, I mean, it’s a hockey play. It goes fast. It’s tough to say. I think they’re doing the best job they can. It’s not in our position to judge who gets suspended or not. It’s totally up to those guys and I don’t really have anything to say to that, I would think.”
I looked like an accident to me. You could say Cooke was reckless (as many have), but then again skates come off the ice in board battles routinely.
Are you trying to stay off of the foot as much as possible?
“Yeah, I mean, right now I just lay on the couch and unfortunately watch golf. Yeah, it’s just one of those things - I ice most of the time and lay with my feet above my heart to get the swelling down; that’s pretty much what I can do.”
Almost expected some sort of Brad Fritsch plug here from Karlsson. A wasted synergy opportunity.
Do you like the fact that the owner came to your defence last week?
“Yeah, I mean, obviously it shows that he understands a bit of the game. You know he cares. He cares about this team a lot. He cares about the players. What’s going on around the league, I think he’s very active with everything concerning that. So obviously, you know, I stand behind him and his comments about that. And that’s it.”
Thought this was a bit of a leading question and almost impossible to answer except to say - "Yes, I like when people stick up for me". Although I'm not sure I'd advise anyone to stand behind Eugene's words (that goes for Eugene as well).
Has anyone given you a precise timeline for recovery?
“As I said, it’s tough to know right now. All we know is that the surgery went well and everything like that, so… *Karlsson looks at and picks up phone ringing on his podium* Oh, maybe it’s for me! No, as I said, maybe… I mean… as soon as I can start doing things with my foot -- as soon as I can start putting some pressure on it – and relying on it a bit more, I think we can really see how long it’s going to take. Hopefully it won’t take as long as estimated. I mean, I will do everything I can to try and really get it fixed as soon as possible but with these things, one of the most important things is you have to really wait and let itself heal one hundred percent before you really do anything. I know a lot of guys that have felt great and gone on too soon and too early and it made (the injury) even worse, so we have got to be really careful about when we start putting pressure on the foot and really doing things with it. I don’t know if that’s going to be two months or a month and a half or anything like that, so I’m just going to have to wait and see I think until that time comes.”
How do you help the team when you can’t play?
“It’s tough. I mean, when you’re hurt, it feels like you’re a bit on the outside even though you’re around the rink all of the time. You know, I still try to be the same guy that I’ve been ever since I got here. I mean, you know, every time that I’m around the guys, I try and talk a lot and keep their spirits up… Ask them what’s going on and how they’re feeling. I guess I’m the painful guy now asking them how they feel and how the game was and all the details and everything… you know, you’re still trying to help out where you can and don’t try and be in the way too much. Just cheer them on and try and keep them happy.”
"painful guy" is a great euphemism for therapist.