The old phrase “work smarter, not harder” was what Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson focused on during his long summer. The 29-year-old forward was back in the gym with trainer Matt Nichol and Paragenix Systems in Toronto. He didn’t have to drastically change his routine but had to alter his mindset.
“I think I probably worked a little bit smarter in the gym. First couple of years you just go in there and lift the house and try to be the strongest guy in the gym every day,” Wilson said.
“Now at this point in your career you’ve got to be a little smarter… I trust them to change the program to what I need at this point in my career. They’ve been around a long time. They’ve had countless numbers of pros come through. Later in your career, maybe you’re doing a little bit different things or just a little bit extra or a little bit less kind of tweaking things depending on how you’re feeling.”
Wilson missed the first half of the 2022-23 season after undergoing ACL surgery. When he returned, the 29-year-old racked up 22 points (13 goals, nine assists) in 33 games. He has looked very strong and powerful during training camp, skating alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Sonny Milano.
Simple drill to get things started. pic.twitter.com/Y8dK1OJ3Ar
— Jacob Cheris (@JCheris17) September 22, 2023
“I’m not thinking about it at all. As time goes on it feels better and better but at this point, I’m not thinking about it, I’m not worrying about it, I’m out there doing my thing,” Wilson said. “It’s nice to feel good on day one. Obviously there’s bumps and bruises throughout the year, but I feel like myself.
Along with not worrying about his knee, Wilson doesn’t have to stress about potentially putting on a different sweater. He signed a massive seven-year, $45.5 million extension, which essentially makes him a Cap for life. There were rumors of a potential trade, but there was clear mutual interest for No. 43 to stay in D.C.
“Everyone’s aware there’s a business side to the game and this year can [have] a lot of ups and downs, it can be a little bit crazy,” Wilson said. “Obviously pretty happy to get it done and can just move forward and know my future will be here and I’ll be helping this team win games and that’s all I really care about.”
Now that he is fully healthy, Wilson wants to focus on leading Washington back into postseason contention. The Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons last year, and it was clear that they missed the right-winger’s presence.
“I’m not a guy that sits here and makes certain goals for myself. I try and do whatever I can every night in that game to help the team win,” Wilson said. “Our best players need to be our best players. The leadership group has to lead the way… there’ll be some young guys around and helping chip in, but you got to hold yourself accountable and we got to be good. We created a winning culture and identity here for a long time. Last year wasn’t good enough and I think each individual needs to do more and that’s including myself, so we’ll be ready to go.”
Wilson and the Capitals kick off the regular season against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
By Jacob Cheris