They're hanging the black crepe in Ottawa after the devastating injury on Wednesday night to Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defenseman. The Senators have played only 14 of their 48 games and, as James Gordon and Wayne Scanlon write in The Ottawa Citizen, their "season officially ends on April 27, but from a truly competitive standpoint, it may already be over."
This is because Karlsson, who's only 22, has been the catalyst for Ottawa's attack. He scored or set up roughly one-third of the team's goals last season and finished 11th among all NHL players in scoring, with 19 goals and more assists (59) than the points total of any other defenseman. His six goals this season lead all blueliners. Simply stated, whoever the top puck-moving d-man is on your favorite team, Karlsson is better.
And some of the people who are hanging black crepe are also ready to hang Matt Cooke, whose skate sliced Karlsson's Achilles tendon as the pair battled for the puck as it came around the boards during Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory. Cooke's reputation -- well earned, as all hockey fans know -- is that of a cheap-shot artist, one who not only plays the game on the edge, but is willing to go over the edge. However, both hangings are not deserved.