On Tuesday, Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette spoke to the media on a Zoom call following Group A’s practice on the second day of the 2020-21 training camp. He provided an update on defenseman Zdeno Chara and discussed how upcoming scrimmages will serve as evaluations on the goaltender situation.
Good news! According to Laviolette, Chara cleared his physicals and testing and will be on the ice this afternoon with the Capitals’ second group. He will join the main group on Wednesday. Chara missed the first day of training camp due to quarantining protocol.
On December 22, the Capitals announced they signed forward Conor Sheary to a one-year contract that carries a $735,000 cap hit. He became an unrestricted free agent on October 9 after the Pittsburgh Penguins did not re-sign him. Laviolette said Sheary brings speed and is a “responsible and reliable player”, adding, “He has done a good job.”
The team also signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Craig Anderson on December 27 to a professional tryout agreement. Laviolette implied that Anderson will eventually play with the main group and he will be evaluated in the upcoming scrimmages (Thursday and Sunday).
Because of no preseason games, those scrimmages will be an evaluation to Laviolette, who will take a look at the goaltender situation and “make decisions”. “This isn’t a complete shot in the dark,” the head coach said about evaluating Ilya Samsonov. It appears Laviolette is expressing a lot of confidence in the 23-year-old becoming the starting netminder but mentioned, “nothing is set in stone”.
His starting point is working with players who have played in the NHL before. He reiterated a little bit of movement in lines and pairs is possible and they will utilize the taxi squad. Although he did not say names, Laviolette mentioned a few players in the second group “popped” during Monday’s session, and he could see some putting pressure on guys in the main group.
On his coaching style, Laviolette said it’s always a “varied time frame to get a team ready”. He wants to work hard in the time allotted. Laviolette noted he is “excited to start the season” with the Capitals and is hoping to “make the playoffs and get the Cup.” He expressed how continuous growth and development are important. “I hope we are better in game ten than game one,” Laviolette said.
Bubble cities will not be used this season as teams will only be traveling to places within their division. When asked about the safety measures, Laviolette said everyone is “trying to do their part” by wearing masks and social distancing. Even meeting and workout sizes have been altered. He had a call with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who reinforced the importance of following all health and safety protocols.
By Della Young