The best-laid plans . . .
At the start of this week I had ahead of me the prospect of one of the more appealing visits to Hershey, Pennsylvania, I believed I’d ever make. It was the return home to Hershey weekend for American hockey hero John Carlson. But as Joe Murphy’s law would have it, the Capitals on Friday recalled Carlson, and so as my Jeep was making its way North for the weekend just as Carlson’s car was headed South. But the beat of one of the most illustrious franchises in all of professional sports hardly has but a single storyline, and so I adjusted my coverage plans, and hardly, I thought, to a mediocre plan B: still skating with the Bears is Karl Alzner, who just happened to captain Team Canada at the 2008 World Juniors and won two gold medals in that tournament. Think he had a rooting interest in the most recent WJC?
So I thought it would be fun to try and chat him up about that remarkable gold medal game between the Canadians and the Yanks, and and take the pulse of his emotions on it a bit.
And as far as Carlson goes, Comcast Sportsnet’s Michelle Scalise had my back a bit by penning a terrific feature on the other bluechip blueliner and, along with Lisa Hillary, producing this video of Carlson from Friday night, after the Caps’ 6-1 smackdown of the Leafs:
Now my video of Alzner carries a slightly less polished look to it, but that’s part of the charm of a retail hockey blog, isn’t it? I’m indebted to the Hershey Bears’ Jess Mikula for shooting the footage while I tossed questions at Alzner.
Two things stood out to me about Alzner’s reactions to the American victory in Saskatoon: first, like so many of us, he at first didn’t realize it was his defense partner who’d won the game — no. 11 in red, white, and blue looked an awful lot like a skilled forward carrying the puck up the ice and unleashing a no-look snapper into the back of the Canadian cage. But Alzner, while acknowledging shock and disappointment at the outcome, quickly realized how significant a moment this was in the entirety of what will be John Carlson’s hockey life, and he sent his teammate a text in the immediacy of the outcome, just to drive home that point. That’s a former Team Canada captain reaching out to his American League teammate in real time to say ‘Hell of a job, buddy.’ No wonder Alzner is so thoroughly well liked throughout the Washington organization, and how well does it bode for the Capitals’ blueline in the years ahead knowing that two gold medal winners from perhaps the world’s best hockey tournament soon will be patroling it?