Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, the model of composure and confidence on the ice, admits to being almost bewildered when he was named winner of the Norris Trophy at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas Wednesday.
He didn't see it coming.
"Absolutely not," Karlsson said. "I don't really think I understood how it works and how big it was until I came here. Once I sat down and saw that first prize was mine, I didn't really know what to do. (I'm) probably going to have to look at the tape a couple of times to really figure out what happened."
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Karlsson edged Nashville's Shea Weber, 1,069-1,057. It was the second year in a row that Weber fell just short of his first Norris trophy. Last year Weber was edged 736-727 by Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit.
In voting by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, Karlsson was first on 66 ballots and Weber was first on 49 ballots. Boston's Zdeno Chara, who finished third, received 32 first-place votes. The first-place votes won it for Karlsson, because he and Weber had the same totals on third- and fourth-place votes.
At 22, Karlsson is the youngest Norris winner since Bobby Orr, who was 20 when he won his first Norris in 1968.
"It's very special," Karlsson said. "That's probably the best word to describe everything. And now I have to take it to the next level and go from here."
The dynamic-skating Karlsson had 78 points in 81 games, finishing 25 points ahead of the closest competitor on defense. It was the widest margin between the top two-scoring defenseman since Paul Coffey finished 38 points ahead of the competition in 1988-89.
Karlson paid tribute to Chara and Weber.
"I don't really think I understand how much it takes to be that kind of player they are," he said. "I have a whole lot of respect for those two guys. They're amazing hockey players and they do it every night and they're game-changers."