Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson dismissed speculation Thursday that the team had an awkward team photo shoot a day earlier prior to practice.
“I think if you put a camera on anyone for 25 minutes you can find five seconds of any sort of footage that you want. It was a team photo [like every other] I have been in before,” Karlsson said.
“You smile for the camera, take a few photos. It’s a little bit annoying to sit still for a very long time, nothing really other than that.”
Owner Eugene Melnyk was present for the photo seated to Karlsson’s left, with general manager Pierre Dorion to the right. Team photos usually consist of the team captain positioned in the middle with the owner and general manager seated nearby.
Leading up to last week's deadline, there was intense trade speculation surrounding Karlsson, but he has expressed desire in remaining a Senator long-term.
"Multiple teams phoned but Erik's a franchise player and we felt there was no franchise deal out there that could satisfy to make the best hockey deal," said Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion in his post-deadline news conference.
Karlsson said he never thought about it being potentially his last picture with the team before it was brought up by reporters Thursday.
“I did not think about that. As of right now I’m going to worry about playing this season and doing as good as we possibly can to end the year that we have had,” he said. “Once the summer comes around I think that things are going to change a little bit or the approach is going to change a little bit, but that’s something we are going to have to deal with then.”
Speculation on Karlsson's future is likely could pick up again in the summer, particularly leading up to the NHL draft in June in Dallas. Dorion has said he plans to offer Karlsson an extension July 1 if he's still Ottawa property.
Teammate Mark Stone agreed with Karlsson’s assessment of the situation.
“I’m sure if you look at the entire front row, I’m sure everyone’s facial expression is probably the same. We have been sitting there for 25 minutes waiting to get practice going. I don’t think you can have a smile on your face for 25 straight minutes,” he said.
Stone also denied there was tension when Melnyk came on the ice for the photo.
Following last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Final, it’s been a different story this season for the Senators. Coming into play Thursday night against the last-place Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre, they sit seventh in the Atlantic Division with 56 points.