Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan Discusses Team Injuries, Expectations For Alex Ovechkin And Peter Laviolette’s Contract Status Following First Day Of 2022 Training Camp

Photo: Jordan Bondurant/NoVa Caps

Washington Capitals’ general manager Brian MacLellan addressed the media at the end of the team’s 2022 media day on Thursday. He touched on several subjects from player injuries, motivation for breaking the streak of first round playoff exits, to the status of head coach Peter Laviolette’s next contract.

Here are a few key points from his press conference:

GMBM on Carl Hagelin injury: “He has a lower body injury that needs to be addressed, and we’re working through the final parts of it right now. He’ll be out indefinitely.”

GMBM on Hagelin’s eye injury from last season: “It’s still improving, so it’s inconclusive at this point where he’s at. So he’ll have some time because of the other thing going on to heal and see where it goes.”

Will Hagelin need surgery for his lower body injury? “Nothing’s definite but it’ll sort itself out here in the next few days. We’ll have more information for you as the decision is made.”

GMBM on Nicklas Backstrom hip surgery recovery: “I don’t know that it’s actually been done at the level he’s at. It’s a serious intrusion in your body. He feels good physically so it’s to be determined I guess on our point. We’ll see how he recovers from it…I think it’ll be a long progression and see how the skating affects it, the strength how it comes back, the mobility how it comes back and how he’ll be able to us it in game situations. So I think it’ll be a long road but we’ll see how it goes.”

GMBM on Backstrom’s efforts to get back into playing shape and optimism he’ll suit up for the Caps in 2022-23: “I think he loves the game. He’s passionate about it. He’s been a high level player, he’s had success like you mentioned, he loves to play, he loves to come to the rink, he loves to be around his teammates, and I think the passion it still there. It’s fun for him to play or I don’t think he’d be doing it if it wasn’t.”

GMBM on Tom Wilson’s recovery from a torn ACL: “He’s in good shape. He rehabs well, he does all the right things. I think it’s important the actual injury no matter how well you’ve rehabbed it needs a specific amount of time. So I think it’s important that everybody keeps that in mind no matter how good he’s feeling or rehabbing.”

When should we expect Wilson back in the lineup? ”I don’t want to give you an exact time, but he’s on schedule from what the doctors say.”

GMBM on T.J. Oshie’s abdominal surgery, he was held out of the team’s skate test Thursday: “Just cautionary there because of the reps he’s had. We didn’t want to risk it. We’d like to have a few more practices and some more skating for him before and hopefully they still make him do it at some point here.”

GMBM on filling the gaps left by Backstrom and Wilson absences: “We’re losing big parts of our team so I think it’s still gonna be a challenge. I think we’ve added good players. It’s gonna make training camp fun to see how guys adapt, see how they fit in, see what the combinations are from the coaches. People are going to be getting an opportunity to play higher in the lineup. Training camp and exhibition games are going to mean a lot.”

GMBM on expectations for Alex Ovechkin: “I know I wouldn’t bet against him. I think he has a strong will and I think he knows what he wants to do and accomplish. And usually when he’s in that mood he accomplishes what he wants to get done.”

GMBM on organizational depth improvement through free agency and prospect improvement: “We’re trying to create a lot of depth, but we have some guys here that deserve an opportunity that have earned it. So we’re still trying to protect ourselves with depth for injuries. We might have extra bodies, but again I think we’re going to use everybody here that has an opportunity to play. And there’s several guys that deserve games this year.”

GMBM on 2022-23 being contract years for several players: “Hopefully it’s motivational. Guys are playing for next contracts, playing for jobs. I think it’s a good thing.”

GMBM on urgency in the locker room to succeed based on previous playoff failures: “Players, coaches, everybody’s a little frustrated that we haven’t had more success. We can come up with reasons why we haven’t gotten by the first round. But I think last year we just didn’t get it done against Florida. We had them in a spot where we could’ve finished them and we didn’t finish. So I think we all should be motivated to get beyond that point. I think it’s important for our group to do that.”

GMBM on Peter Laviolette contract talks: “I’m not gonna comment on negotiations, but I think everybody here is happy with Peter’s job. He’s done a great job. He’s a good coach, good communicator, done a good job with what we’ve had to deal with as a team, good communicator to players, holds players accountable. He has a really good skillset, and we’re happy with him.”

By Jordan Bondurant

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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12 Responses to Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan Discusses Team Injuries, Expectations For Alex Ovechkin And Peter Laviolette’s Contract Status Following First Day Of 2022 Training Camp

  1. novafyre says:

    Hags really does not sound encouraging. I like the decision in the next few days bit.

    Osh says he’ll be on the ice Friday so we should get answers then. Worries me that they don’t want to be more open about Wilson.

    Nicky’s case worries me. If they are doing to do a Kuch on him, why not just come out and say it? Maybe because Nicky is fighting it? Doesn’t want to be out the entire regular season? Is hoping that he can come back and be his old self sooner? OK, I understand his desire. But I hope he’s right because right now I have my doubts and feel that not freeing up that salary space is selfish.

    Not everyone is happy with Lavi and all his staff. Maybe Caps management is, but a lot of fans aren’t. Faceoffs and PP last year? Rookies warming benches?

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I think Oshie will be fine, at least to start the season, but agree about Hagelin. Getting old sucks!

    • steven says:

      How can the GM be happy with the HC especially when he does not use the best talent that the organization has but instead go with his comfort level and that they have gone out in the first round the 2 years he has been here; going 2-8; and his first year finished 2nd in the east and the 2nd year finished 4th, that seems to be a downward trend to me. Isnt it time for this fossil and his pet assistant to go and for this team to get a HC that will use the young talent that we have? PP down as are faceoffs the last 2 years. So please someone tell me how Laviolette is such a great coach!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s a lot to digest. He was a busy man this summer, a lot to score him on as the season progresses.

    • steven says:

      That applies not only to the HC but also the GM and I hope that Caps have a great season but quietly rooting for Lav to be relieved of duties by mid November! Just hope that we do not lost to many of our young players this training camp because the HC is, to say it politely, a fool and not a great judge of talent but I believe looks at past records more.

      • novafyre says:

        Trouble is, if they fired him mid-November, they would probably put Blaine in charge.

        I still would like to see Carbs get a chance, but that would have to be next summer at earliest.

  3. DWGie26 says:

    I just can’t take it any more. Lavi is not a fool. He is not a bad judge of talent.

    What does he bring… all of the things that a veteran team who wants to win needs. Good communicator. Good motivator. Track history of success and Cups. Holds people accountable. He is one of the true professional coaches in the league.

    the younger players will learn a lot as well. How to compete. How to earn a spot. Work ethic (on and off the ice). Despite what you think, players like CMM and Fever are developing as are all of the other youngsters who got games last year.

    I certainly don’t like the playoff results. But i don’t think it is at the hands of Lavi or GMBM. These are veteran players who can play, and know how to win but they haven’t. To me that is where the responsiblity lies and I would be in the locker room that is what they are saying. No players pointing the finger at Lavi or GMBM.

    they may wait until season’s end to check the results and decide how to go into next year. If they want to try and win, then I think they sign him for another two years and then go from there.

    • novafyre says:

      I am disappointed in Lavi for two main reasons. First, he didn’t seem to adapt during the year, keeping the Caps down at the bottom of the league in a number of categories (PP and Faceoffs come to mind). I don’t buy the “If all players were healthy . . .” excuse. Coaches need to adapt to the players that they have available.
      And that brings me to point #2. Our rookies dressed then sat. He made it clear in a post practice interview that he would play them only if we were ahead in a game. Even when a rookie scored, he then sat. Look at the TOI numbers. Warming the bench didn’t do the Caps any good, didn’t do the Bears any good, didn’t do the rookies any good.

      You criticize vets who didn’t give it their all. I agree. But then why didn’t he sit them instead? The Caps went into a rut and I didn’t see Lavi doing anything to bring them out of it.

      • DWGie26 says:

        Fair points on not being agile and making adjustments, especially on the PP. That was maddening. Face offs continue to be a massive problem and I wish we could find another Pecca to help.

        I do think Lavi did an admirable job on making adjustments with injuries, illness, and deploying call-ups. But he can get entrenched with vets. No argument on that.

        When it is time to rebuild Lavi won’t be the right coach, but while we are trying to win, I think he is a good fit.

  4. DWGie26 says:

    Fair points on not being agile and making adjustments, especially on the PP. That was maddening. Face offs continue to be a massive problem and I wish we could find another Pecca to help.

    I do think Lavi did an admirable job on making adjustments with injuries, illness, and deploying call-ups. But he can get entrenched with vets. No argument on that.

    When it is time to rebuild Lavi won’t be the right coach, but while we are trying to win, I think he is a good fit.

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