During an intrasquad scrimmage Wednesday, defenseman Josh Godfrey unleashed a slap shot from near center ice that ricocheted off the glass behind the net with a thunderous echo at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Yep, that was the booming shot he has been known for since the Washington Capitals selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft. But there was another play later in the contest, a deft poke of a stick to prevent a potential breakaway, that was far more significant.
See, Godfrey doesn’t just want to be known as the man with the cannon of a slap shot.
“He was asking some pretty intelligent questions about, ‘Where should I be in this situation?’” Caps assistant coach Jay Leach said. “I see improvement in him. I see a lot of improvement in his defense. What he probably recognized himself was perception, and perception is unfortunately 90 percent of the business. Whatever he was perceived as, as not a good defensive defenseman or whatever, he’s recognized that and taken steps to improve that.”
Godfrey had a breakout season in 2006-07 for Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario Hockey League. He had 24 goals and 57 points, a 36-point improvement from the year before in the same league.
In 2006, Godfrey had been eligible for the draft. Two hundred thirteen names were announced, but Godfrey’s was not among them.
“I’d say it was a turning point in my development,” said Godfrey, who likely will play for Hershey in the American Hockey League this season. “The next summer I took it a lot more seriously working out, and that season I felt I made huge strides offensively and defensively.”
One of the things Godfrey did that summer was accept an invitation to the Caps’ summer development camp in Hershey, Pa. He didn’t stick around long, because he needed to go back to Ontario to have knee surgery.
It had been bothering him for a while, but he didn’t want to use that as an excuse for not being drafted.
“I played my best out there every game, and whether I was playing on a bad knee or not didn’t matter,” Godfrey said. “I was told I might be drafted and I might not, and I wasn’t, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being a hockey player.”
Last season his offensive numbers dipped slightly, but he improved from a minus-2 to a plus-31. He also earned a spot on the Canadian national team for the world junior championships held in the Czech Republic and won a gold medal.
“Even though we were there for three or four weeks, it went by so fast, and it was such an incredible time,” Godfrey said. “I’ve been rooming with Karl [Alzner], and we were talking about it the other night. We both said we’d love to go back and do something like that again, but obviously we’re too old now.”