Capitals’ Tom Wilson: “I Could Have Been Back Possibly A Month Ago, But I Wouldn’t Have Been The Player I Wanted To Be”

Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson spoke to the media following Wednesday’s optional practice. He provided insight into his recovery and return on the horizon.

In mid-December, Wilson attended his first practice with the team after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL on May 25. Head coach Peter Laviolette announced after today’s optional practice that Wilson and center Nicklas Backstrom would not accompany the team for their game at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday (7 PM ET, ESPN); however, both are “pretty close” to making their season debuts.

“I’m feeling good,” Wilson said. “It’s just a matter of time, but I’m starting to feel a lot better and not worrying about it and not thinking about it as much, so it’s good. It’s kinda the last step of the process—just getting back to feeling like yourself and not worrying about the rehab process or anything—just playing hockey.”

The 28-year-old explained that he’s at a point where he’s feeling “good to be in those battles” as practice drills ramp up a little more each time on speed and physicality. “Obviously, you need some time at that stage,” Wilson added. “You’re not just going to feel good one practice and then jump into an NHL game, so we’re going through that last stage now, and I’m feeling good. I have no limits in practice or anything like that. Once I feel really, really good, we’ll be good to go.”

“I think my expectation is that I have to be where I was before,” he said on returning. Wilson has not played since May 1, which was Game 1 of the Capitals’ first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series with the Florida Panthers. His postseason run only lasted 91 seconds.

“I want to be the player I was before, so this whole process, I’ve had that in mind and that’s been my goal…maybe I could have been back possibly a month ago, but I wouldn’t have been the player I wanted to be. I wouldn’t have been the player I was last year, so this whole process has been designed with our support team and our medical staff and surgeon and everything to make sure that when I’m back, I’m the player I want to be and, I mean, obviously, it’s going to be a couple games to get my feet under me, but just come back and do whatever I can to chip in and help the team keep moving forward and push towards the playoffs.”

Wilson had nothing but good things to say about his teammates and the organization during his recovery, saying, “The Caps and my team back home in Toronto, and the surgeons, and everyone have been so great in allowing me to feel good about my return, so that’s kinda been the only focus.”

He was “extremely proud as a teammate” of Washington’s solid month in December. “To see guys step up and see guys string together a bunch of wins—not only stringing together wins but playing really good hockey…when guys go down, you pick each other up and they’ve done a phenomenal job.”

Backstrom, who underwent hip resurfacing surgery on June 2, spoke to the media Wednesday about recovering alongside Wilson; both had similar timetables on return. “We’ve always been close,” Wilson said about the 35-year-old Swede, adding, “He’s always been a leader and a mentor for me, but we’ve definitely spent a lot of time together…it’s been great to bounce conversations off each other—ups, downs, everything…I was fortunate to have him there.”

“Between him, [Carl Hagelin, Mark Nemish, Connor Brown], it’s been a fun little group, and not to say we were having fun, but it can be pretty dark times when you’re by yourself working out every single day for four to five or eight months, and to have a little crew where we could just hang out and feel like we’re still part of a team was really good.”

To listen to Wilson’s full interview, click here.

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter who earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University in 2021. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Screenwriting from Regent University. Della comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for hockey in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
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3 Responses to Capitals’ Tom Wilson: “I Could Have Been Back Possibly A Month Ago, But I Wouldn’t Have Been The Player I Wanted To Be”

  1. hockeydruid says:

    With the type of surgery that Tom had I would expect hm to be ready end of january or early Feb. That surgery takes 7-9 months to fully recover and then he has to get into playing shape.

  2. dwgie26 says:

    It’s been published since he had his surgery that it is a 6-8 month recovery timeframe. Caps had the luxury of a team playing well and not needing to rush Tom into the lineup. And that is basically what he is saying here. Could have played a month ago. Better that he didn’t have to rush. He is itching to get back in and I can’t wait!

  3. Mark Eiben says:

    I think we will see him early next week imo.

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