The Ottawa Senators are rallying around captain Erik Karlsson and his wife, Melinda Karlsson, after the couple’s son died one month before his due date.
“The collective thoughts and prayers of the Ottawa Senators organization, the city of Ottawa and entire hockey community rest with Erik and Melinda Karlsson following the loss of their son,” the NHL team said in a statement on the league’s website on Tuesday, March 20. “We ask that you respect the family’s wishes for privacy during the grieving process.”
Erik, 27, later wrote on Twitter, “At this extremely difficult time it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel but we know one day we’ll get there. We would like to thank everyone for the love and support we have received and also for respecting our privacy and the process that we need to go through. We feel very lucky to be Axel’s parents. Even though he was stillborn, we know we will hold him again one day under different circumstances and the joy he gave us will be with us forever.”
The news came shortly after the athlete sat out the Senators’ game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
“Everybody is heartbroken. It’s awful,” head coach Guy Boucher said, via CBC News. “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.”
Defenceman Mark Borowiecki added, “It puts perspective on life and what’s going on here. It’s important they take time to grieve and be together. … 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.”
The Karlssons tied the knot in August. They announced in November that they were expecting their first child, with Melinda writing on Instagram that it was “the most exciting news we have ever received.”
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