Troy Brouwer/Joel Ward extra content: What's toughness?

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You can check out The Washington Times’ 2011-12 Washington Capitals Season Preview here, featuring stories on the Stanley Cup, Tomas Vokoun, Joel Ward & Troy Brouwer, Karl Alzner as the next Rod Langway and the Hershey Bears. Each story, though, includes some “On the cutting room floor” extra content. Here’s the lowdown on Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer:

Look at new Caps forward acquisitions Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, and you see similarly physical players. They’re not fighters, but at 6-foot-1, 226 pounds (Ward) and 6-3, 213 (Brouwer), there’s a sense that they add toughness to the Washington wings.

“In Ward and Brouwer we wanted two real good, solid two-way players that can get you 15-20 goals but they’re good defensively,” general manager George McPhee told The Times. “They’re gritty, they’re physical, they’re big guys. It just makes us a harder team to play against.”

This team is built more around talent and skill than fighters. No one will be calling the Caps the F Street Bullies anytime soon. But as coach Bruce Boudreau noted, “nobody likes to get pushed around.”

Guys like Brouwer and Ward are here for just that. They don’t need to drop the gloves to prove toughness.

“People always equate toughness with fighting. Is anyone going to question if Joel Ward is tough?” Brooks Laich said. “Maybe he doesn’t fight that often, but he’s tough as nails.”

The same can be said for Brouwer, who likes to hit and can play on any of the top three lines.

And while McPhee seemed to disagree with the notion that Brouwer, Ward, Jeff Halpern and Roman Hamrlik added toughness (maybe grit is a better word), some extra physicality can’t hurt.

“You always want to have that element,” the general manager said. “I don’t think we lost any series because we weren’t tough enough. Tough to me – people define it in different ways. Some people define toughness by fighting – I’ve never defined it that way.

“To me, toughness is showing up and wanting the puck and coming up with the puck and winning the battles for the puck. That’s toughness.”

That’s Brouwer and Ward.

Click here to read Nick Eilerson’s full story on the new guys from the special section.

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