That was the dominant theme, the message being passed down from player to player as the Caps officially opened their doors to the media today to kick off training camp. Rebuilding is done. We're built. Now we see what it is we've created, take it out for a spin, and aim for a return to the postseason.
In fact, almost every sentence uttered by a Cap seemed to have the words "excited" or "ready" in it. Even Hanlon and McPhee appeared a little more optimistic than usual and the assorted media that gathered seemed to get caught up in the energy. One could say that the mere presence of assorted media is a sign that a buzz is growing, with several television cameras and a large handful of representatives from the print media and the local blogosphere in attendance. When approaching the media scrum Olie pretended to be shocked and asked, "Am I in Washington??"
Ha. It's funny because it's true.
One of the expectations for this year's training camp is that it will be incredibly competitive, with young guys from Hershey competing with guys clinging to last year's roster spots at almost every position. I caught up with Brooks Laich for his thoughts on this new development and how he plans to stay ahead of the pack.
Laich and...gasp! CapsChick's head, revealed!
(photo courtesy of Ken Berard)
"I think I have to show that I can play at both ends of the ice, contribute some offense but be solid defensively, don’t miss any assignments, that sort of stuff," he said. "Also with so many centers here at camp, being able to play all positions, left wing, right wing, center, kind of being a jack of all trades is something that’s gonna help me."
He's definitely aware of the heightened expectations on him this year, his third full year with the Caps. "I’m 24 years old and mistakes of inexperience are no longer acceptable. I don’t think I have as long a leash to make mistakes and more things are expected from the coaching staff. Also I expect a lot more out of myself."
Now it is September, almost hockey season, and training camp is in the air...but there's still a bit of baseball to be played. So naturally I had to ask Brooks, a diehard Blue Jays fan, about playing with a Red Sox fan (Clark) and now a Yankees fan (Poti), and he informed me that he actually braved a Red Sox-Orioles game with Clark just the other day.
"Unfortunately I was rooting for the Orioles just because the Red Sox are my enemy but the Red Sox won," he said. "There’s myself, there’s Boyd Gordon, there’s Steve Eminger – we’re trying to preach the Blue Jays in the locker room but guys are diehard fans and they aren’t going to change. It makes for some good camraderie in the locker room, though."
Seen and heard:
- Kolzig, a slightly more muscular Green, and Ovechkin shooting a spot for FSN's The Best Damn Sports Show Period on the science of sport. In between takes they skated around and passed a puck back and forth, with Olie showing off his legendary puck-handling skills.
- Milan Jurcina walking around in a brand new Caps hat...and I know it was new because he left the sticker on it. Silly Milan.
- Jurcina, Clark and a few others strolling through Kettler in pink socks. Looks like someone forgot that washing red with white creates a slightly more feminine look than they're going for. Oops.
- A bunch of guys (Clymer, Bradley, Fehr and a few others) sporting new matching buzz cuts...and Semin wandering around with a lovely mini-mullet.
- And this:
Check out Olie cracking up at Alex's swing and a miss:
Camp starts tomorrow - hope to see you all there!
By the way, for more coverage and audio clips from today's presser check out Japers' Rink. It's worth it just to hear Ovechkin say "gangster style"...
Thursday, September 13, 2007