When the nine Capitals who are participating in the World Cup of Hockey return, they’ll come back in midseason form.
And that, according to Justin Williams, is something the players who aren’t in Toronto, like himself, must keep in mind as training camp gets underway at Kettler Capitals Iceplex later this month.
“What you don’t want to be doing, with these guys over at the World Cup playing high-end hockey, is you don’t want to be playing catchup,” Williams said. “You don’t want to be lagging behind. To do that, you need to work hard right from the beginning. We’re going to put a big focus on that. I’m going to put a big focus on that.”
“Every drill you want to go hard at it,” he added. “They’re over there playing against the best of the best, and they’re going to be playing hard.”
Williams this week joined the growing group of Capitals veterans and prospects who are getting a head start on camp by participating in the team’s daily skates each morning.
“For me, this is kind of same old story—you work hard during the summer, you spend time with your family, you work on your golf game a little bit and you come back refreshed and ready to start another season,” he said.
Williams, who turns 35 next month, acknowledged that he’s made some adjustments to his offseason routine over the years as the speed of the game has picked up.
He also shed a few pounds this summer. Last season, the veteran winger was listed at 6 foot 1, 186-pounds.
“With the evolution of the game, it’s changed a lot,” said Williams, who has appeared in 1,000 NHL contests for the Flyers, Hurricanes, Kings and Caps.
“My first couple of years, they told me to put on some weight and work out with heavy weights.”
“Now I’m doing yoga, quick feet stuff, a lot of core. The game has changed and the way you train has changed, as well. It’s a speed game. I’m actually down a few pounds from where I was last year, and I kind of like that.”
“For me,” he added, “being over the 30 cusp, you have to be aware that it’s human nature and it’s natural to slow down. Even if it’s just a little bit, it’s impactful and it will be noticeable. My thing is just maintaining speed, maintaining quickness. Now, I’m not going to beat the fast guys off the gun from Point A to Point B, but I’m going to be quicker than them in the corner—and I need to keep that.”
Williams said he’s not sure exactly where he’ll he settle into Capitals’ forward group this year.
But after 16 seasons in the NHL, he knows this much for sure: playing time is earned, not promised.
“You earn your ice time with how you play,” Williams said. “Nothing is given to you, even [with] the length I’ve played in the league. You work hard, you earn your ice time. You play better, you’re going to play more. That’s the way it is.”