OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators rallied around their grieving captain Tuesday night.
Star defenceman Erik Karlsson didn't play in Ottawa's 7-2 home loss to the Florida Panthers. Earlier on Tuesday, the NHL club revealed Karlssons son had died.
In November, Karlsson, 27, and his wife, Melinda, announced they were expecting their first child.
"I can't even imagine what Erik and Melinda are going through right now,'' defenceman Mark Boroweicki said. "It puts perspective on life and what's going on here. It's important they take time to grieve and be together.
"There is so much love coming out of this dressing room for them. Erik is a huge part of this team and Erik and Melinda are a huge part of this community and this city. We really are a family in here and it hurts all of us deeply. It's so important they take all the time they need and we respect that and show our support and love in whatever way we can.''
Head coach Guy Boucher echoed those sentiments.
"Everybody is heartbroken, it's awful,'' he said. "We definitely feel for Erik and his wife and his family.
"It's been a tough year but this is a real personal, devastating blow to them. We feel for them and Erik is going to take the time he needs to come back and once he does we'll do our best to support him. It's definitely a sad day.''
Tuesday's news hit close to home for Senators forward Zach Smith.
"As expecting parents it hits a little deeper,'' he said. "You realize what it would be like, the feeling, the attachment.
"I don't know what else to say. It's devastating and I just feel terrible for them. I just hope they're doing OK and we'll be here to support them.''
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