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Catching up with D.J. King

It might be the dog days of summer for those of us anxiously awaiting the start of NHL training camp, but we're still going to try to keep things fresh here on the Capitals Insider. I had a chance to catch up with D.J. King, who visited Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the first time Monday to meet with GM George McPhee and members of the team's training staff. The rugged right wing is excited to get to know his new teammates and also for a new season, one that hopefully won't include any more injuries.

"To come to a great hockey team that has done really well in the past and has a bright future ahead, really just being one step away from going all the way that's very exciting," King said. "St. Louis is like Washington a few years ago. They're just in that transition stage and Washington, we're on hopefully that last step to get all the way. It's very exciting to come to a team that's just on the edge of going all the way."

Over the past two seasons King, the Capitals' first bona fide heavyweight since Donald Brashear left via free agency during the summer of 2009, was limited to 13 games -- first because of a dislocated shoulder during the 2008-09 season and then broken right hand in 2009-10. They were fluke injuries that challenged him to regain confidence in his own durability.

"The first game after (the hand) injury I was kind of nervous," King said. "But then I got in a fight and everything went good. I was like 'Whew, I finally made it through a whole game for the first time in two years.' And from there on the rest of the 12 games went good. I'm just 100 percent confident in my body now.

"The end of the season last year just gave me huge confidence just mentally to know that the body can handle it," King added. "I put the body through a lot those last 12 games and I had no problems at all. I'm just excited to get started this year and just go through a whole season with hopefully no injuries."

After trading Stefan Della Rovere to St. Louis for King, McPhee emphasized that the Capitals believe King, who fought five times in his 12 games last season and had 14 fights in 2007-08 (his most recent full season), can be more than the designated tough guy and fighter. King agrees.

"There's so many ways to bring a physical presence to the game," he said. "Getting in hard on the forecheck, getting in the faces of other players and getting under their skin talking to them. But I've always tried to log minutes down in the other team's offensive zone, to wear their D-men down with a good cycle game with my big body, just protecting the puck in the corners. That way when Alex (Ovechkin) and the other guys get on the ice the other team's D are tired and they can do their thing."

King wouldn't say if he was looking forward to circling any potential sparring partners on the schedule, but if the some of the moves in the Eastern Conference this offseason are any indication -- ie Jody Shelley to Philadelphia, Derek Boogaard to New York -- there's a good chance he won't lack plenty of willing opponents.

Among players who fill the fighter/enforcer role, you'll find a smattering of personalities and varying stories for how they discovered and built a reputation as a tough guy, so I asked King. Turns out, it wasn't until he was in juniors playing with the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes that he discovered he could stick up for himself, and his teammates, in a game against the Calgary Hitmen.

"I never really fought at all early on, I just played the game hard as a kid," King said. "My first real fight was a bench clearing brawl and I was just fighting for my life. Someone grabbed me -- I wasn't sure who -- and it turns out I fought one of the tougher guys and then word gets around. So now you're just defending yourself, sticking up for yourself with people coming after you and you just become the enforcer. I'm not a guy to really say no, so if someone wants to try to start a fight I'm always willing to take it on."

By Katie Carrera  |  August 2, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
 | Tags: D.J. King  
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Next: Former Caps defenseman Morrisonn signs with Buffalo

Comments

Katie, you should get DJ to 'motivate' the techies to fix the pic at the top of your new blog.

Posted by: tslats | August 2, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Katie,
Welcome!!! If you have any question, feel free to ask me. I'm kind of the smart guy on these boards. ;)

Posted by: j3rockstar | August 2, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, both Katie & DJ!

Posted by: thomas20 | August 2, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Katie,

Have you rid yourself of your Penguins Fan Club Card yet?

Posted by: darrylrbaker | August 2, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

STL fans seemed to love this guy, I don't know a ton about him but that's an encouraging sign. And vid I've seen shows shows him more than willing to take a hit to make a play, along with guys [big ones at that] sort of bouncing off him. So far, so good!

Posted by: Timbo_1 | August 2, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

It's an injustice that someone like Katie would get a writing gig with the Post when there are plenty of die-hard Caps fans who are relegated to hateful armchair coaching/managing positions at home. Shame on the Post for not recognizing their insight. *snicker*

Congrats, Ms. Carrera, on your new position!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 2, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Katie, you should get DJ to 'motivate' the techies to fix the pic at the top of your new blog.

Posted by: tslats | August 2, 2010 3:39 PM

as well as find another pic for the caps page - i'm getting pretty sick of seeing Cindy - i mean Sydney, er.. Sidnie, uh.. Sydney

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | August 2, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

as well as find another pic for the caps page - i'm getting pretty sick of seeing Cindy - i mean Sydney, er.. Sidnie, uh.. Sydney

Problem is Katie isnt getting tired of seeing it.!

Posted by: darrylrbaker | August 2, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Saw this article and thought it was a nice positive perspective instead of a lot of the constant negative on the blogs recently.

a snippet:

Yet sometimes it's important to step back and take stock of just exactly what's been built here, just how talented this lineup is and where they started. That's not to say there isn't plenty that can be improved - quite the contrary, as we saw last season. But while the current squad is but a few small tweaks away from being a true contender, it wasn't so long ago that this team was made up of prospects, castoffs and Alex Ovechkin.

http://www.japersrink.com/2010/8/2/1168779/where-are-they-now-not-here#storyjump

Posted by: capscoach | August 2, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I saw that too and it shows how much the team transformed over 4 years. Mostly from draft picks or prospects that were traded for. For the team to go from so horrible to how it is today I think GMGM must have made some pretty decent moves and draft choice decisions.

Posted by: sgm3 | August 2, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Hello Katie!

Welcome full-time to the blog gig. Since these are the dog days of hockey, how about we toss something to you and you try to run down any leads in the Caps org? Isles are buying out Brendan Witt, making him an unrestricted free agent. Although some people don't like him, he can definitely be a tough stay-at-home D-man. Might the Caps consider picking him up for a decent price? He left because he didn't want to stay for the rebuilding. I'm sure he realizes that was a bad move since he hit the skids from then on. However, given a chance to play for his long-time team and on a winning one, would he be interested too? Let us know if you bounce that around and if you get anything on it. Thanks!

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | August 2, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

No situation is good enough for BWitt. He's one of the absolute elite d-men in the NHL. Just ask him.

Posted by: zmega | August 2, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3 - credit for the turnaround has to go to BB as well; the phone booth was a pretty moribund place to be before his arrival. Not only was the team not good, they played boring hockey [sidenote: why Slovakia picked Glen Hanlon to coach their national squad is beyond me] and BB changed all of that.

As for GMGM, you have to acknowledge not only Hanlon but also Butch Cassidy - and a number of shall we say questionable high draft picks. But I will admit that lately he's been knocking 'em out of the pick, Carlson was a steal at #27, Kuznetzov would've been a top-5 if he were Canadian-born, our situation with young goalies is incredible and I was highly impressed with Orlov in camp as well.

I can't understand not going after the A-train though, I think that would've solved a lot of problems.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | August 2, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

He made a mistake. A HUGE ONE!!! But, I would welcome Witter back. :)

Posted by: j3rockstar | August 2, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

He made a mistake. A HUGE ONE!!! But, I would welcome Witter back. :)

Posted by: j3rockstar | August 2, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

welcome DJ, welcome Katie

you two should have a blogging/fisticuffs competition (do the blogging round first)

Posted by: mcintire_will | August 2, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

@Timbo_1

I agree with your assessment of BB and that GMGM's drafting was not very good in the late 90's, early 2000's.

AV would have been a nice pickup, but we don't know if he would've even came here if offered the same contract. In addition, 6 years, with a NTC, is a long and risky contract. But $4.25M was a good price for him.

I can see the reasons for signing him to that contract and the reasons against it.

It looks like Andy Sutton signed with Anaheim, so he is gone now.

I will be surprised if the Caps go with Erskine/Sloan as the 6th/7th D-man just because it has never looked like BB and GMGM had much confidence in them. Especially lately.

Posted by: sgm3 | August 2, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

yes katie, welcome ! and beware, there's a buncha trubblemakers on this blog. I'll identify them as they creep up.


aunty who?

The Chicago Blackhawks have walked away from the $2.75 million contract that was awarded to Antti Niemi in arbitration, which makes the Stanley Cup-winning goalie an unrestricted free agent

Posted by: cstanton1 | August 2, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Sabres walked away from Tim Kennedy (ex Caps draftee). Solid young player. Fast, aggressive, talented. He's only going to get better. A smart team will pick him up. He barely got a chance to play on anything but a checking role last yr and excelled at that and still managed to put up points. Imo he's better than any forward we currently have in Hershey and that includes AG who I love. And despite his size he's got the strength and tenacity to compete at this level.

its funny, the Caps have traded away 4 prospects they've drafted now that are actually intriguing players (at least to me). Ruth, Kennedy, Osala, SDR.

Posted by: cstanton1 | August 2, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

No to Witt. Are you out of your mind? He's done like dinner........

Posted by: CF11555 | August 2, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Katie! Thanks for the article on D.J. King.

Very funny, cstanton1!

Posted by: dccitizen1 | August 2, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Katie,

Welcome aboard. My only rule is that we are not kind to Yinzer McYinzersteins.

So you need to check your Yinzerness at the door.

Posted by: CF11555 | August 2, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I meant funny about you identifying the "trubblemakers."

Posted by: dccitizen1 | August 2, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Do you think the Caps should trade one of the goalies and sign Niemi?

Posted by: MReilly9 | August 2, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the length of that K and the NTC were a little high for AV, but he'd bring so much to the table for a team like the Caps. The only d-man who comes close for us in terms of physicality and defensive tenacity is Erksine, and I love the guy but he just can't catch anybody.

Anyway, I realize it is a moot point now, but I will always wonder if the Caps could've gotten him for both shorter and cheaper, if they'd gone in early and hard. Ovie's an icon and I don't think you can underestimate the allure of playing with him right now, and the Caps - for any hockey player, never mind a Russian kid. I'd at least like to have seen the effort, is all I'm sayin'.

Posted by: govtimbo | August 2, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Witt was basically washed up when he left here. Talk about someone who goes out of position for the hit---Witt.

Posted by: sidehillman | August 2, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see the Caps bring back Witter. Not for his playing ability (which is pretty much done) but for these boards and Jeff Schultz.
I'd just cut-and-paste the quoted section into every post discussing Witter's latest rock-headed play:
"But we wanted McPhee to get a crease-clearing defenseman"

Witter would also take over the critical "whipping-boy: defense" position from Schultz. A defense pairing of Erskine-Witt makes my eyes water. What a tough, crease-clearing tandem!

Meanwhile, Flash holds down the crucial "whipping-boy: offense" position.

Posted by: pga6 | August 2, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Katie, we can't wait till the NHL season starts and we can watch Crosby, Malkin, and Fleury do their thing, right? They're such a great team, right?

Posted by: LloydChristmas | August 2, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

ShaMo is gone???

So who's our 6th D?

Green/Shultz
Carlson/Alzner
Poti/??

Who am I missing? Erskine? Sloan? is there someone else?

Posted by: adamkatzen | August 2, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

No way you take the cap hit for Niemi and give up a high ceilining, cheap young keeper, no need. Save the money, give young guys in goal and on D a chance during regular season to see how the hold up, save money, then if trade is needed bring in vets at trade deadline. Don't make mistake Chicago made with Huet and Campbell with crazy contracts. The Caps will be fine, no Witt, no Kaberle, no nada ... maybe Salvador from NJ if Kovi stays but that's me reading too much Eklund.

Posted by: flee001 | August 2, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back to the Insider, Katie! Will Geno be coming back as well?

Posted by: Terptwin | August 2, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, remove the photo of Tarik already! We're done with him. Go Katie!!!

Posted by: benjaminsumner | August 2, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

those r the 7 d

Posted by: CF11555 | August 2, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Katie

Posted by: LloydChristmas | August 2, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Can't you guys see? Katie is too important to respond to you like Tarik did.

:D

Posted by: austinsteve | August 3, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

its funny, the Caps have traded away 4 prospects they've drafted now that are actually intriguing players (at least to me). Ruth, Kennedy, Osala, SDR.

Posted by: cstanton1
------

Ruth: still in NCAA, might never make bigs
Kennedy: clearly can play in the NHL
Osala: still regret the Pothier, 2nd, Osala for Corvo trade... big mistake in my opinion, would never have thrown both Pothier AND Osala in
SDR: sad to see him go, can live with it given what I've seen/heard about DF, we can judge this trade 4-5 years from now, by then the players will have done things, playoffs done... Cup yes/no!


all around, I agree, intriguing players... ever should have parted with Osala... that one will hurt, IMHO!

Posted by: FrankM73 | August 3, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for Witt coming back!!!! So he can retire with his first team. He had his best years as a cap by far. I remember him when I was really little. Witt would be the 5th or 6 slam in the line up. But he brings experince. He will hit and fight. He has good size as well. And he won't put himself in the offense which would be a good thing. And we can just give him a million dollars for a year. And if he is awful. We trade him and someone else at the deadline.

Posted by: samrosen8 | August 3, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Welcome, fellow closet and loyal Pens fan who now controls the Caps Insider.. hah!

Go Pens! :)

Posted by: BigGameSid | August 3, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

@adam - the hands-down best D-pairing in the playoffs for the Caps was Poti-Carlson - not sure how that makes Poti suddenly become the #5, from that. Also, we've seen clearly for two straight postseasons that Schultz.simply.can.not.play. Not against average top-6 NHL forwards.

And no way Green should be on anybody's #1 pairing - not one with SC aspirations, anyway.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | August 3, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Is Katie kind of like Angelina Jolie in Salt? The ultimate penguin mole, our manchurian candidate?

I can just see a blog coming in a few months titles "Penguins are forever darling". Bond girl she is!

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | August 3, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The Caps picked this guy up over a week ago and NOW you talk about him. Still a bandwagon paper covering a bandwagon town.

Posted by: gerse | August 3, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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