Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson joined The Athletic’s Two-Man Advantage podcast with Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday. He discussed training camp, new head coach Peter Laviolette, and his experience at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championships.
He said that “I don’t think [my gold medal-clinching goal vs. Canada at the 2010 tournament] feels a long time ago for me,” and he thought that it explained the progression of his career. The podcast was recorded before the gold medal game of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships on Tuesday where the United States beat Canada 2-0.
“It’s really memorable. That part [OT goal] means a lot to make,” the 30-year-old continued. He added that the goal “gave me a lot of confidence” heading into his NHL career since he was knocking on the door at the time. “It was very important for my confidence,” Carlson said.
Carlson said that there was more bickering inside the Capitals’ locker room about the World Junior Championship because of diversity in the locker room and “it [felt] like someone [was] always playing someone.”
Carlson described this past offseason as “totally different” but had a similar experience last July in the NHL bubble in Toronto. He said that it has been a “longer, [more] drawn-out, harder” process this time around compared to his experience in the bubble. “This offseason was a lot different [in terms of training]. Finding the right routine was important to me,” Carlson added. He thinks that it is important to come into training camp in shape and be ready for opening night at the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, January 14.
After losing in five games to the New York Islanders in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, Carlson said “You definitely use [the disappointment of last year].” He added that he and his teammates could find the reasons as to why it went wrong “and use it as a teaching moment” to build off of it and make adjustments for this season.
When asked about this unique season, Carlson responded that “The most important thing is the feeling right now.” He added that it feels like everyone is ready to go during training camp and “the start is the most important thing to wrap around. We’re all hungry to get out there and prove ourselves.”
Carlson told Burnside and LeBrun that Laviolette has “been great so far” and “can teach anyone that has been in the league.” He feels like the first-year Capitals’ head coach is “bringing a new flavor of our team” that they will go after this season. “I feel like I have some [background] with him [after he was an assistant for Team USA in 2014],” Carlson added.
On Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara, Carlson said “I think he’s going to be an important piece” and that he was excited when he heard about it. “[It’s] going to be big for myself as well,” he added. Carlson told a story when he blocked one of Chara’s shots in his first or second NHL season and his knee cap snapped. “I wish I had it so he could sign it,” he cracked.
After finishing second to Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi in Norris Trophy voting as the top defenseman in the NHL, Carlson said “I think there’s a human element to everything.” He told the two hosts that he would have liked to win the award “but winning [the Stanley Cup] is all that matters to me” and he is only focused on camp.
On having three boys in his household after the birth of his third son during the offseason, Carlson said that his oldest, Lucca, is skating which is “something to enjoy with him,” and thinks that he will understand that playing hockey is a job for Carlson soon. “It is special for me to involve them in experiences,” he said.
You can listen to the entire interview here.
By Harrison Brown