John Carlson knows the children are the future. Children, really, meaning the younger players in the NHL.
That’s why it was important for him to attend the NHL Players’ Association meetings in New York this week, especially given the uncertainty surrounding a new collective bargaining agreement.
“I think that you look at all the marquee guys around the league right now and they’re all fairly young. That should tell you that’s the future of the game,” he said earlier in the week. “That’s who should be paying attention more because nothing against the older guys, but they might have only six or seven years left when other guys can have 10 or 15.”
Carlson was one of four Caps players represented at the meetings, along with Karl Alzner, Wojtek Wolski and Troy Brouwer. None of those four players are older than 27 years old.
For the 22-year-old Carlson, it was an eye-opening experience standing alongside guys around the NHL he’s used to going up against. The NHLPA showed unity, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a little strange.
“It’s definitely a different dynamic. You showed up into the room and, for me at least, I was with Karl, and you look around and you see the guys that you battled against especially freshest in your mind were people in playoffs. … I’m friends with a few of them, too,” Carlson said. “It’s different, obviously it doesn’t even matter at this point the things that happened. It’s cool to see that guys that you might hate, you’re on the same side with now and we’re all trying to do the same thing.”
According to the NHLPA, 283 players made an appearance in New York. Carlson came out of the meetings agreeing with something teammate Brooks Laich said earlier in the day that the union seems stronger than ever.
“I think that everybody is on the same page. Everyone agrees on the things that we agree on,” Carlson said. “Obviously the [turnout] of people that showed up should tell you something about how much, first off, we’re together, but also how much we care.”