Capitals Head Coach Peter Laviolette Discusses Team Injuries, New Players And Prospects Trying To Earn A Roster Spot In Media Day Presser

Photo: Jordan Bondurant/NoVa Caps

Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette met with reporters during the team’s 2022 media day on Thursday at MedStar Capitals Iceplex.

Laviolette spoke about the team’s goalie situation, newcomers to the team via free agency and trade, his message to the players, young and old, at the start of training camp, the absence of Nick Backstrom and the importance of starting the regular season off on the right foot.

Below are the key quotes from Laviolette:

Laviolette on the team’s goalie overhaul: “There was an opportunity to look at a guy like Darcy, as he was available this summer, and based on what he’s done not just last year winning a Stanley Cup, but what he’s been able to do the last four, five, six years, he’s been a top goaltender in the league and an opportunity for us to pick him up is a really good pickup. So we’re excited about that.”

Continued: “Charlie Lindgren as well, we like the way he competes. We like the way he works on the ice, and obviously there’s a big change in net for us. We had a couple young goalies here, they both battled hard, they did a good job, they gave us a chance. But I think the opportunity to get a player like Darcy was a good move.”

Laviolette on not having Wilson and Backstrom in the lineup: “Those are a couple big pieces, but I feel like some of the parts that we picked up this summer can help cover that. I feel like some of the growth and development of some of our younger players can help with that, and I feel like the depth we showed and used last year with some of the players that are trying to compete for a job on our team, we can cover those spots with that as well. You don’t like to see the guys out of the lineup, but we knew this. This isn’t catching us off guard today. This has been for months now we knew where we were gonna be.”

Laviolette’s message to younger guys competing in camp: “They’re coming in here trying to earn something. That was a message to everybody. Try and earn an exhibition game. If you earn an exhibition game then you have a chance to show what you can do. Try to earn some more ice time from where you were at last year. Try and earn a job in Washington, in Hershey, in South Carolina. Try and earn yourself a spot somewhere. And so nothing really changes with regard to that. That’s training camp year after year. You get an opportunity to do something to try and make the most of that opportunity so yu can show what you can do.”

Laviolette on Connor McMichael and high-end prospect development from year one to year two: “There’s a natural development. There’s a development of maturity. There’s physical growth, there’s experience. All of those things are now another year, in my opinion, into the good. And so young players come into the league and typically that first year is not their best year. I’m not saying that it’s bad, I’m just saying that there’s always growth when you go from 19 to 20, 20 to 23, 23 to 26. You become stronger, you become more physical, you become more experienced, you understand the league better, you understand the competition, you understand how to become a pro. And all of those things I think are the growth of young players. And so McMichael is no different for us. We’re going to look at him in camp this year to come in to earn more, to want more and earn more.”

Laviolette on Dylan Strome’s ability to play center and wing: “He’s a guy for me that can play both positions. I really like that even with Nick off to the side for now. It could put five centermen in our lineup. And I always like that because when a centerman goes down now you have somebody that can naturally move around, and it’s just a little bit easier to replace a wing.”

Laviolette on Backstrom’s presence and recovery from hip surgery: “He’s here, he’s in good spirits, he’s free of pain and right now he’s pushing to try to check off the boxes and put himself in a position where he’s gonna be back and contribute. We support Nick, he’s been an unbelievable player for this franchise. He’s gone through a tough spell here, but we’re seeing and watching his improvement every day. And so that’s exciting for us down in the room. We certainly will be happy when he comes back. But it’s been a long road for him too. And so it’s nice to see him doing well and checking off the boxes and working his way back.”

Continued: “It’s tough to replace a Nick Backstrom. There aren’t many of him around, but by committee and by a group and playing a team sport and a team game, you hope to get by all that. And so I think we’re going to count on and rely on a lot of people.

Laviolette on the importance of a strong start to the regular season: “I don’t think it’s any secret to anybody that a poor start really hampers you through the course of the year, and it puts you in difficult situations. And getting out of the gate the way you want to out of training camp is one of the most important things. I would imagine there’s probably 31 other messages like that going around the league. So this is something that I think is commonly talked about in every room. Getting out the door, winning game 1, having a great record in the first 10, getting that first month out of the way and being where you want to be. And so it’ll be no different for us. We’re going to work hard in training camp to be ready, and when that happens we’ll focus on game one and look to get going.”

Full media session:

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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1 Response to Capitals Head Coach Peter Laviolette Discusses Team Injuries, New Players And Prospects Trying To Earn A Roster Spot In Media Day Presser

  1. Jonathan says:

    Coach: ““I don’t think it’s any secret to anybody that a poor start really hampers you through the course of the year, and it puts you in difficult situations. And getting out of the gate the way you want to out of training camp is one of the most important things…”

    Last year we played well in the first half, then limped into the playoffs. No matter how we start, the most important winning needs to happen towards the end of the season. That shows the league that you are to be contended with. Several important late season games showed that we didn’t have what it took to beat the best teams. We need to finish strong!

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