There were plenty of tired hockey players after Bruce Boudreau put the Caps through a pretty grueling workout today. The mood in the locker room afterwards was a little tense at first, but lightened up after a few minutes.
“I don’t want to use the word punishment, but this is something [that happens],” Boudreau said. “Everybody would have loved to have Sunday sitting down and relaxing and enjoying themselves, but this isn’t a country club. If you come to work, you’re going to get rewarded and if you don’t, you’re going to pay the price.”
What happened last night was clearly still on everone’s mind, and nobody was complaining about the practice on what was supposed to be a day off.
“We played like we should have a hard skate last night,” captain Chris Clark said. “It is something that maybe it is a wake-up call to some guys. Everybody expected it coming in. Bruce didn’t want to do it, but sometimes you have to.”
So what does the captain think is the way to fix things or move on?
“It starts individually. Guys’ preparation is different — some guys have to be motivated and other guys motivate themselves. Individually, guys have to figure out what gets them going and by the drop of the puck, you have to be out there. We’re professionals, and you have to be out there playing 60 minutes.”
On each team, the role the captain plays is a little different. Some guys have been notorious for delivering fire-and-brimstone speeches or breaking stuff in the dressing room. Others lead by example and speak up when necessary.
“You shouldn’t have to — I speak up and there are other guys who speak up in the locker room. We had that going yesterday and it didn’t work. Guys still didn’t come out hard. It shouldn’t be up to somebody else to get an individual going. Some guys might repsond to it, but other guys might respond the other way if they get singled out. Maybe it is something we need to do more, but we’ll see.”
Boudreau was very animated on the ice, and his message was pretty clear.
“If they’re not going to work to our standards during a game, then they will work that hard during practice,” Boudreau said. “I’ve been through a lot of those in my life and it is not fun. We’re just trying to send the message that the coaching staff is displeased with their effort.”
“We just didn’t compete. It was just … I’m not used to it. Here we had a chance — we see everyone else in our division losing and an opportunity — to be 6-3-1 with six games on the road is a pretty good start, but 5-4 and now you’re average. It is the difference between being good and being average.”
Everyone was on the ice except for Shaone Morrisonn and Alex Ovechkin, who is expected to be here tomorrow. That includes a few guys who are playing through injuries — guys that might have needed the day off more than others.
“I think players in this situation know they don’t want to take the day off because they don’t want to looked at as pulling the chute,” Boudreau said. “There were probably some guys who were tired but pulled through it like men.”
Finally, some insight into Boudreau’s views on discipline vs. motivation in a situation like this:
“I think it is a feel, quite frankly. If you do it and you harp every day, then it becomes ‘going in one ear and out the other’ and that’s not motivation. But if it is sort of out of character from the way you normally approach the game, then people legitamitely know you’re not happy. Everyone had this with their parents. We could tell when they were mad at us as kids and we could tell when they really meant business.”