Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson told reporters on the first day of training camp that there is one cost in returning to play: “[the] infectious disease and anyone can get it.” Wilson and the Capitals started preparing for their round-robin tournament, which will begin on Monday, August 3, against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Toronto, on Monday.
While Wilson said that “we have to be confident” protocols are safe, he did acknowledge that “nothing’s [going to] be 100% safe”, but “everyone wanted hockey back.”
Throughout the NHL’s pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson thought things would change, but there wasn’t one day we knew for sure was going to be back “until this morning.” He added that “the uncertainty” was the toughest mental part of the pause, but Wilson is “ready to go.”
“[You] don’t want to sugarcoat” that play going to restart, Wilson said. He thinks that there is “not going to be perfect hockey out of the gate” after four months off. Every team will play an exhibition game sometime between Tuesday, July 28, and Thursday, July 30, before the puck drops for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and round-robin tournaments.
Wilson feels like he and the Capitals are “prepared in our room” to try to jump off the hop.
On extending the CBA through the 2025-26 NHL season, Wilson said that “both sides had to come to an agreement” and that “nothing was going to be good enough” under that the last CBA, which was implemented in January 2013. However, he acknowledged that it is “never going to be a 100% perfect agreement,” but you want to put yourself in a good position for the future.
— Sam Obermyer (@samober) July 13, 2020
On playing in front of an empty crowd during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Wilson said there will be “less boos and less cheers” at home and that he will have to watch his language if he is mic’d up. “Just going to pretend to play in a rink with a little less atmosphere,” he continued.
“Less boos and less cheers I get at home. It’ll be weird. I’m gonna have to watch, I guess what I’m saying. Less F words and stuff like that.”
— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) July 13, 2020
On the feel of this kind of training camp, as opposed to the one NHL teams hold in September, Wilson said that “it’ll be very different” with higher stakes out of the gate and a more condensed camp.
Wilson feels like the Capitals’ staff has proved “we have a winning mentality” and that their coaches will come up with a great plan. He felt like the plan worked great on the first day of camp.
Wilson said that the Capitals are “going to have to adjust” and that participating in the tournament will be like “a big field trip.” He feels like the team is going to have fun with it and be ready to play.
He told the media that his girlfriend, Taylor Pischke, will be watching the couple’s new puppy, Haley, while the Capitals will be in Toronto.
Wilson said that “we’re coming back to win” and “we got our wish” to fast forward to the good stuff during the season under the NHL’s format to resume the season. He added that there will be an element that makes hockey harder.
He told the media that it is “tough to compare [the safety protocols] to other leagues,” but “you hope they’re able to play safely” about the news that the MLS has had to postpone games during their tournament due to positive COVID-19 test results. “[That is never the news you want to hear,” he said.
Wilson said it is a “cool feeling” to know he is going to be playing in his hometown and that feeling “will still be there” but will be “different” without his family and fans in the crowd. “[There is] always a feeling of home,” and he will use that as motivation, Wilson concluded with.
By Harrison Brown