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A chat with Justin Williams and his friend Stanley


A chat with Justin Williams and his friend Stanley

About to embark on his 15th NHL season and his first with the Capitals, three-time Stanley Cup winner Justin Williams sat down with Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley to discuss his thoughts on his new team and his intimate relationship with Lord Stanley’s Cup.

So, it’s been a few weeks since you and your family arrived in town. How are things going with everyone?

It’s been pretty easy so far. The kids are both in school, they started this week. Jaxon (7) is in Grade 1 and Jade (4) started Pre-K. My wife (Kelly) and I got the home pretty much settled and we settled into a routine. Just another hockey season.

We talked with Barry Trotz the other day and he said the one thing teammates really want to know from you is what you did with the Cup. So, what did you do?

The first time I won (with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006) I was young (24) and I think I was very naïve to the fact I’d just win a couple more. It took me 10 years to eventually win another one. The first time I brought it back to my hometown of Cobourg (Ontario) and we took it out in Toronto, me and a couple friends.

What kind of reaction did you get?

‘That’s not the real one, is it?’  That type of thing. People would walk in dumbfounded, like, ‘No, that’s not what I think it is!’ It becomes a little bit of a sideshow. That’s why after that (when he won with the Kings in 2012 and 2014) I just kept it local and kind of to myself. You give it out for a little bit during the day because really, your day with the Cup is all about everybody else, to be honest with you. Everyone else wants a piece of it. But at night time you want some me time.

So, did you tuck it in next to you?

I did. (Big smile)

You slept with it?

I slept with it. (Another big smile)

So how can you describe to someone who hasn’t won a Cup what it takes to win one?

I think the ride and the lead-up and the hard work it takes to attain it makes it all worthwhile. The war you go through with all your friends and teammates and the guys you care about, and reaching the pinnacle of everybody’s hockey career together is just a special feeling and that’s what makes it so special as well.

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Can you ever know in September if a team can win it all in June?

No, absolutely not. You can’t, unless you’ve done it before together as a team. You don’t really learn about anybody as a player and what they’re made of in October and November. March, April, May, June, it’s those months when you’ve really gotta dig deep. When everybody’s tired and everybody wants it, that’s when you learn more about what kind of player you are and what kind of player others are.

A lot of people talk about this team being Stanley Cup ready and how Ovi is in his prime and the window may be closing. Do you feel players need to reach a point in their careers where they’re mature enough to win the Cup?

I don’t think so. Guys experience winning at 18 years old and continue to win. Guys experience it at a young age and then forget how hard they worked to actually get there. It’s hard to say, but it’s extremely gratifying to see a guy who’s been around for a long time attain his goal. I was able to do that in Carolina with a lot of the older guys on that team. It was something special to see the emotion they had because they were in their late 30s. Roddy Brind’Amour, Bret Hedican, Glen Wesley, Ray Whitney. Guys who weren’t able to get there and did and it’s cool to share it with them.

I guess coaches can fall into that category, too, right? Barry Trotz is a guy who has put in his time and hasn’t won it. Do guys around the league root for coaches like Barry?

Absolutely. He’s another guy who – certainly this is a long way in the distant future – but you can envision yourself celebrating that with him. Listen, I feel that all the pieces are here, but it’s September and it’s way too early to even start thinking about that. The hardest part is just getting into the playoffs every year and you have to get in before we can even talk about any of this stuff.

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings 

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John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."