I was actually ready for and expecting Chris Phillips to be named the next Ottawa Senators captain, and had been preparing for that news all summer... Instead of going with veteran experience, the Sens chose to go with Norris trophy winner Erik Karlsson, who is signed long-term and will be the face of the team for the next decade or so.
Karlsson is entering his sixth NHL season and is often considered the top offensive defenseman in the league; he has 63 goals, 174 assists and 237 points in 315 games so far, but has flirted with the point-per-game ratio for the past three seasons (78 in 81, 14 in 17, and 74 in 82 last year).
Sure, his defensive-zone play could use some work, but only P.K. Subban can compare in regards to creating offense from the back end.
Commissioner Gary Bettman often speaks about how the NHL has never been ''healthier'', and he means it on purely economic grounds, and that is a fact. If he actually cared or knew anything about the game, though, he'd also be able to claim that hockey, in itself, has never been played at such a high level before; despite the KHL boasting a high-caliber level of play, the NHL's talent pool just keeps getting deeper and deeper.
And this is particularly true of defensemen. With players such as Subban, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Niklas Kronwall, Ryan Suter, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, and many others currently in their prime, with veterans Zdeno Chara, Andrei Markov still having a tremendous impact and up-and-comers like Tyson Barrie, Dmitri Kulikov, Matt Dumba, and Jacob Trouba in the ranks, it could be hard for a one-dimensional player like Karlsson to repeat as a Norris winner, but who knows? Perhaps he has an 85-point season in him that will force voters into considering him, and the rest of the talent pool will cancel itself out the same year.
In the meantime, though, he'll be the face of the Senators, with a big ''C'' on his chest to remind everyone who the team is built around. And with that, I present you this 2013-14 Dominion card (#D-EK in the collection of jersey cards, numbered 7/99) from Panini:
hinted I would go in more detail about the 2013-14 Dominion set back in July, and I guess I can start with this card. The foil on the front of the card is actually a bright blue, which looks cool except it's even harder to notice the team's logo (top-right) and brand name (bottom) on the actual card than it is in the scan; the ''Erik'' from his name is also blurry in real life; the die-cut area where the swatch is isn't in mint condition - the edges have noticeable wear, despite having been put straight in a penny sleeve fresh from the pack.
The design behind the player is a bit boring, but the back of the card even more so. Here's the kicker: boxes of these sold for around $200, which got you... 6 total cards: 2 ''regular'' cards, two autographed memorabilia cards, and any combination of two autograph or memorabilia cards. That's an average of $33 per card, including the base cards.
I'll tell you right now, this was my best hit, and there's no way I'd pay $10 for it, let alone $50. It wouldn't make a difference if the paper was from pristine pine, Santa's own fir, 100-year oak or hemp from George Washington's personal stash, this design is sub-par and the finish is awful.
Full disclosure: I got my box at half price ($99) from a very angry wholesaler who vowed never to buy Panini products ever again. ''Even'' at that price, I agree this product is crap.