OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators have named star defenceman Erik Karlsson as ninth captain in team history and have signed forward Bobby Ryan to a US$50.75 million, seven-year contract extension.
Karlsson replaces Jason Spezza, who was traded to the Dallas Stars this past summer after holding the captaincy for one year. Chris Phillips and Chris Neil remain alternate captains.
The 24-year-old Karlsson thanked teammates past and present for helping him become the player he is today.
"I’m a little bit nervous actually as I don’t know what to say," said Karlsson. "It’s a good feeling. It’s an honour to be a captain of a Canadian team and it’s not something that I could have hoped for when I came here, but I embrace it and I’m very much looking forward to the responsibilities to come. I am right now a very happy guy and I look forward to the upcoming season."
Senators general manager Bryan Murray said the decision to make Karlsson captain made sense as they always knew they wanted him to take on a leadership role.
"We knew in the very near future he was going to be (captain) and we finally just decided that if he’s going to be it why not be it now," Murray said. "I think his growth off the ice, his attitude, the conversations we’ve had since last year and the fact he’s back to full health and really wanting to be a focal point of this hockey team – all those reasons. The most important one obviously was we just felt he was the right guy because he had that personality to step up and take charge and be forceful, but considerate of his teammates."
Ryan said the decision to make a long term commitment to the Senators was a "no brainer" as he and his fiancee believe Ottawa is a place "where we could build a family, start a family, call home and everything that we’ve experienced here in the last year has hinted at none other than that."
"We’re very, very happy that we were able to get it done," added Ryan. "I promise you we’ll give it everything we have night in and night out to uphold our end of the contract."