It isn’t just select bloggers and a healthy contingent of Caps’ fans who believe an upgrade in toughness is overdue on this team. There are players attending training camp this year who signed with Washington and Hershey this summer who want the dirty jobs, none of whom is named D.J. King.
I was in the room at Kettler over the weekend when I overheard one veteran skater, not known for putting pucks in the net, reflect on the job market this summer and settle on Washington, precisely because of the blue-collar toolbox he brings to the party. Two other skaters, both younger, have a more explicit agenda this week. “It’s been good thus far,” one of them told me, “the next step is get the nod in exhibition so we can run some guys.” It was the “we” part of his message that caught my ear.
You don’t maim your own in camp scrimmages — that’s poor form. Instead, you hope to earn a sweater for an exhibition game this week and set your fire eyes on skaters in another organization, while management watches from on high. That’s audition time. And that is long established hockey heritage.