On the ice, the Washington Capitals’ prospects are going through the grind together at 2017 development camp. At the end of the day, they find themselves exhausted as they train together and work on improving their respective games. Off the ice, the stakes aren’t as high.
Away from the rink, Washington’s prospects find themselves bonding with one another, not just over the game of hockey, but over more real-life things like TV shows and music.
“It kind of just helps ease things,” goalie prospect Adam Carlson said. “Once you get away from the rink, it’s nice to have those little distractions to keep your mind off [camp] and allows you to be able to rest and just relax.”
Breaking the Ice
The first day of development camp, especially for new players, can be a bit overwhelming. On top of that, camp gives prospects a glimpse into what NHL hockey looks like, and that in and of itself puts extra pressure on players’ shoulders. However, the Capitals’ prospects experience those emotions for a short time; sooner rather than later, the players form a strong bond with one another. After the first day, players find it easy to break the ice and form a connection.
“The hockey world’s so small that you say where you’re from then you know someone and you say a joke about a buddy you know from that team and it’s just an instant connection,” goalie prospect Mack Shields said. “The hockey world is a brotherhood, and it’s real easy to connect with guys.”
But perhaps what makes the locker room such a calm, connected place for new and returning players to bond is the attitude of the players themselves. According to Carlson, this year’s camp class is a great group, and many of them possess a quality sense of humor.
“Everyone brings their own thing to the table… it’s nice to be able to know most of these guys,” Carlson said. “Everyone’s always laughing and making each other laugh. It’s nice camaraderie in here.”
When it comes to who is the funniest player, Shields, Colby Williams and Tyler Anderson all believe that Connor Hobbs has the best sense of humor.
“Hobbsy’s pretty good,” Williams said. “He’s always the guy laughing and telling stories and telling jokes.”
One of the biggest ways the Capitals prospects connect is through their love of music; in fact, according to Carlson, the players are “jamming out all the time.”
“We try to keep it light and one of the best ways to do that is to be able to have music going and to be able to dance around and keep loose,” Carlson said.
Carlson also mentioned that the prospects, many of whom are Canadian, were playing Nickelback in the weight room Thursday morning in the weight room. They’ll mix it up at times, and even have some Blink-182, a band that a number of the prospects have cited among their favorites.
“Everyone’s a closet Nickelback fan,” Carlson laughed.
Long-time friends Hobbs and Williams used to serve as the DJs in Regina when they played for the Pats. According to Hobbs and Williams, Hobbs served as the “off-day” DJ, and Williams was the “game-day” DJ.
Both are country fans, but sometimes like softer, more emotional music. Hobbs’ favorite artist is George Strait, and Williams opts for Mumford and Sons. Though the two listen mostly to country, they also enjoy rap and EDM.
Anderson and Shields also share a love for country, with Anderson a big Florida Georgia Line fan. Shields mentioned that Eric Church and Jason Aldean are on his playlist.
With a common love for country music and “hardcore rock,” the players are able to bond over music while they are also able to relax thanks to dressing room jam sessions. According to Carlson, Hobbs has the best dance moves.
Work, Play and TV Shows
The prospects also bond over television, especially considering they have Netflix in their hotel rooms. After a long day, players will find themselves catching up on respective series.
For Hobbs and Williams, they prefer to unwind with comedy. Both have been watching South Park and Family Guy; Williams finds the latter an easy show to watch, and Hobbs said they’re fans of the show because they both have the same sense of humor that those shows appeal to.
“Sometimes we’ll quote stuff from it,” Hobbs said. “[Williams and I] know those shows pretty good so if someone else knows Family Guy really well we’ll quote it and make fun of it. It’s lots of fun in the dressing room when you’ve got something cool to talk about like that.”
Like them, Carlson also enjoys comedy and is currently binge-watching The Ranch. Other players, however, like Anderson and Shields, enjoy dramas. Both are currently watching House of Cards. Shields said that he “kind of had to watch it” while in D.C., and is almost finished with the latest season. Anderson, only on Season 2, started watching a while ago but didn’t have time to keep up. When he got back to D.C. this past week, he continued watching.
“Guys are always talking about [TV] when we’re looking for something to do,” Carlson said. “A couple of guys watch the same shows and [we] just talk about it in the room.”
Overall, whether it’s a new song or TV show, Washington’s prospects all share interests off the ice. And sometimes, it’s just enough to help them find something to bond over amidst the craziness of development camp.
“As the days have gone on, I think everybody’s kind of bonded and we’re all talking together and we’ve come really far,” Anderson said.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.