On Saturday, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson spoke to the media on a Zoom call following Group A’s practice on the fifth day of the 2020-21 training camp. He discussed playing under head coach Peter Laviolette’s system, history with defenseman Zdeno Chara, and a “new team” feeling heading into the season.
On playing under Laviolette’s system, Wilson said he has been “demanding” and it’s been a “fresh feeling” with a reset mentality. He noted Laviolette has been “honest, direct, and forward”, which is “important in a short training camp”. Players hold accountability with each other.
He called Ilya Samsonov a “phenomenal goalie” who is doing “extremely well” on improving his English language. The more Samsonov interacts with the team and gets used to the culture, the “more comfortable” he will be as time goes on, according to Wilson.
Wilson said “you’re definitely aware” when Chara is on the ice. He made it a “personal challenge” to hit Chara as many times as he could during past games. “I found it kind of fun … it’s like running into a wall and he rarely budged,” he said. Wilson is excited and looking forward to “learning as much as I can” from the 43-year-old blueliner.
Wilson has a “pretty good prediction” that the physicality and tension are going to be ramped up as the season gets going in a tough East division. He doesn’t know “how it’s going to unveil”, but expects the rivalries to continue.
The Capitals had consistency issues throughout last season. “We got a bit away from it at times,” Wilson said, adding, they “did not get back to it as quickly”. He believes a 56-game season will be “all the more emphasis on being dialed in and turning it around” if they drop that consistent play.
“It feels like a new team,” Wilson said about the Capitals potentially winning a second Stanley Cup. The changes, new faces, coaching staff, and the “outstanding” locker room vibe all contribute to the feeling. Wilson is hoping the team will “get back to where we want to be” when their season begins on January 14 at the Buffalo Sabres.
By Della Young