Known as one of the NHL’s toughest players during his career, former Capitals center Kevin “Killer” Kaminski was kind enough to do an interview with NoVa Caps about his life after hockey and his playing days.During his nearly decade-long NHL career, Kaminski played for three teams: the Capitals, Minnesota North Stars, and Quebec Nordiques, appearing in 139 games while scoring three goals, 10 assists, and registering 528 penalty minutes. He spent 132 of his 139 games in a Capitals uniform, spending four seasons in Red, White, and Blue.
I asked Kevin about his most memorable NHL game. He said all were memorable but two stood out among the rest. The first was the night he scored his very first NHL goal on André “Redlight” Racicot, then of the Montreal Canadiens. The other was a game against the Florida Panthers on December 28, 1995. As Kevin put it:
“We were down 4-1 and the team was dead. Then I went out and fought (Panthers defenseman) Paul Laus. It was a great energy fight. The momentum switched and we came back to win 5-4. After the win, Shoney (Caps head coach Jim Schoenfeld) and the boys gave me a lot of credit after the win.”
Kaminski now serves as the Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel of the Louisiana Drillers, a North American 3 Junior League hockey team based in Lafayette, Louisiana. I asked Kevin how he uses his experience as an NHL player and assistant coach (he served two years as NHL head coach Mike Babcock’s assistant with the now-defunct Cincinnatti Mighty Ducks of the AHL in the early 2000’s.) when coaching his players. According to Kevin, it’s like the NHL in that it is all about execution; who wants it and who wants it more, as well as being more disciplined:
“As far as systems and special teams go, I just use my experiences as a player and what I learned under Mike Babcock to try to develop these kids. I believe playing in the NHL and coaching under Babcock has helped my recruiting.”
Because of his busy schedule with the Drillers, Kaminski doesn’t have much time to go elsewhere. I asked him how often he visits Washington and if he attended any games this past season. Kevin says he would like to visit D.C. more often, but having to coach every week makes it tough. Kaminski was one of many Capitals alumni that participated in the team’s annual Alumni Game and Fan Fest following the team’s Development Camp and said “it was great to see all the fans and boys again.” He added: “Hope to make it to a game this year of time permits, #RocktheRed.”
Kaminski retired in 1999 and since then the NHL-style of game has changed drastically. Known as an enforcer during his career, the role is slowly being pushed out of the pro game in favor of a more skilled game. Kevin said that hockey is hockey, but that everyone is getting bigger, faster, and stronger without the clutching and grabbing. He mentioned that he would not want to be a defenseman today and that positioning and play without the puck is more important than ever. When asked about the decline in fighting, Kaminski offered a unique perspective:
“Fighting is slowly getting out of the game, so for as a player today – you have to be able to play, not just one-dimensional. It’s all about speed, puck possession, solid defense and goaltending, so just being a fighter and getting a few shifts a period doesn’t cut it. You gotta be able to adapt to the new game.”
Finally, I asked him his thoughts on the Caps’ 2015-16 season, in which they had a monstrous regular season but failed to win the Stanley Cup. Kevin’s answer was almost the same as current Capitals right-wing Justin Williams’:
“Congrats to Barry Trotz and the Caps organization for an amazing regular season; that’s great and all, but if you don’t win Lord Stanley’s Cup, the season is a failure. I thought they played some very good playoff hockey, but like every other team that makes it you gotta elevate your game everyday – it’s a new season and those other 15 teams have the same chance – and it comes down to execution, priding the little things and who wants it more, plus who responds to momentum changes the best. I really thought this was the year, but hopefully they learned from it and can get ‘er done this year #RocktheRed.”
Kevin Kaminski may no longer play in the NHL, but it’s clear that he still is heavily involved in Capitals’ events whenever he can and enjoys interacting with fans and former teammates. NoVa Caps would like to thank Kevin for his time and willingness to participate in this interview
By Michael Fleetwood
Good interview and good read, Michael.
Michael outstanding interview with Kaminski and very nice of him to give you the interview.
Well written as usual, keep up the outstanding writing. The Caps are going to have to find a place for you in their organization. You know them inside out.
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