Screenshot: Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals capped off their first victory of the 2022-23 season with the presentation of their new post-game victory award (following the memorable axe and shield last season), with new defenseman Erik Gustafsson being given the honor by Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom, currently out recovering from offseason surgery for respective injuries.
Head Coach Peter Laviolette explained the significance of the new post-game ritual among other topics after the Caps’ practice Sunday morning. The Capitals’ new victory rope is more than just an accessory to boast. “We got it from the Arlington Fire Department, Station No. 2 on Wilson Boulevard”, Laviolette revealed,
“The guys were fantastic, they coiled that thing up really quick. Basically they use that rope to save lives, and how important it is for their hands to be on the rope making sure nobody slips and nobody lets go”, he concluded.
Laviolette elaborated the importance of the rope’s meaning to the Capitals themselves.
“The rope, it’s on the back of the jersey, just how important it is, every member of the team have their hands on the rope. It’s hard to win, it’s hard to win a game, it’s hard to win in your division, it’s hard to qualify for the playoffs, it’s hard to win a Stanley Cup…you know I asked them about the rope and they basically pull people from burning buildings, or send them down from burning buildings, they save lives with that type of rope, and again, it’s just that symbol of how important your hands are, that they don’t slip, don’t let go.”
Can confirm. pic.twitter.com/We9TDaw6vi
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) October 16, 2022
On why Wilson and Backstrom were the ones to present the rope for the first time this season, Laviolette was effusive in their importance to the team, on or off the ice.
“They’re the leaders on the team, they were watching, they observed the game. You know, they’re the core of this team, that run the team, and so their voice matters and they got the honor and the duty”, he said.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 16, 2022
Gustafsson signed with the Caps on a one-year, $800,000 deal in free agency, and has already recorded two assists, a plus-1 rating, and has been solid in both ends of the ice.
“He’s been excellent, he’s been excellent”, Laviolette responded immediately when asked his thoughts on the play of the new blueliner, “I’ve liked everything about his game. I’ve liked his ability to get out of our end on his first pass and his elusiveness. I’ve liked his offensive awareness to the game, I’ve liked his compete in the battles, he’s been strong defensively for us. There’s really nothing we haven’t liked about his game.”
During last night’s contest against Montreal, it was reported that the Caps had agreed to a one-year deal with free agent forward Sonny Milano. If the 26-year old clears waivers, he will join the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears to get back into the swing of playing.
“He’s a good player last year. You know he was available…if he clears, he’ll be assigned to Hershey to get going again playing hockey. He’s a good young player that adds depth to our organization, so I feel like it’s a chance to add a good player to our organization.” Laviolette says that clearing waivers will be the first thing the team will worry about before making any further decisions. “He had a good year, played with some good players, put up some points. If he doesn’t get picked up, he’ll start in Hershey and we’ll go from there.”
Rookie forward Aliaksei Protas was arguably, the story of the Caps’ training camp, and made the opening night roster at 21-years old. Through three games, the 6’6″ youngster has proven to be versatile in his ability to shift throughout the lineup.
“He’s done a really good job”, the Washington bench boss praised, “There’s things, we’re going to meet with him today just to go over some of the details of game and stuff like that, but he’s working really hard, he’s generating a few chances a night, hasn’t gone in for him yet. And you know, he’s noticeable, his numbers are good, he plays in the offensive zone, he’s been pretty good defensively. So he’s done a good job, he’s played different positions on different lines, and he’s done a good job. Those lines have been successful that he’s been on.”
The Capitals will take on the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night at 7:00 PM ET.
By Michael Fleetwood