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Q&A With Brian Pothier

I stopped by Kettler Capitals Iceplex this morning and watched Brian Pothier, Boyd Gordon, prospect Stephen Werner, Dallas' Jeff Halpern, and Florida's David Booth (who is a friend of Werner's) participate in an informal practice. Afterward, I sat down with Pothier for a quick interview.

(I also talked Gordon, but I'm planning to transcribe that interview later today or tomorrow.)

Here's what Pothier had to say:

Q: Considering all the offseason moves, should the Caps be a playoff team next season?:

A: Yeah. As the payroll goes up, and more experienced players come in, and we gain more experience as a group, the expectations are going to rise. Not only from the outside, but from ourselves, management and the coaching staff. We've got a team now. Look on paper. We've got a team. We've got four guys coming in that are good NHL players. And don't forget about Josef Boumedienne. He's an excellent player. We've made some nice improvements.
Q: What's the feeling among the veterans, like yourself, Chris Clark and Olie Kolzig?
A: Rebuilding is a process. We all knew what this organization was trying to do. They wanted a ton of young kids growing up together, which was absolutely the right way to build a team. Now we've added some pieces to the puzzle. I'm next summer could be the same thing as we get ready to make that push. We're all really excited about have the chance this year to make something happen.
Q: Did you have any idea how aggressive General Manager George McPhee was planning to be during free agency?
A: I knew management was serious about winning. They went out and signed three, veteran, experienced players who have 400 or 500 games each. That's really going to change things. That's really going to benefit the young guys.
Q: Did you know which free agents would be targeted?
A: I didn't have any idea. I knew who was available. I was calling and texting people [in the front office], asking, 'Did we do anything yet?' When I found out about [defenseman Tom] Poti, I sent him a text congratulating him and letting him know he was going to like it here. We kind of grew up in the same circles in [Mass.].
Q: How well do you know Poti?
A: We played on a couple of all-star teams together. But mostly we played against each other. We kind of ran in the same circles, went to prep school at the same time. We're the same age.
It's really going to be good for Mike Green to watch Tom because they have the same skill set. Long, rangy and really efficient skaters. Green can learn a lot from Poti. He's a good player and he's going to make us a lot better.
Q: How do you think the addition of Poti is going affect you?
A: I'm hoping I'll still be able to contribute a little on the power play. Not being the lead quarterback guy, but maybe just distributing the puck a little bit and getting the puck to people. Is it possible will be on the power play at the same time? Yeah. He's a lefty like Bryan Muir. But Poti is more skilled and sees the ice better than Bryan. Bryan had a big shot. Poti's shot is not his strength; he can shoot it, but he's more of a distributor.
Q: Are you worried that it may take a month or so to integrate the new players into the lineup, considering they all play critical positions?
A: That's what training camp is for. That's why we play 8 or 9 exhibition games. I'm sure Glen will have the lines right away. We'll practice for four or five days and move right to the exhibition games and begin to gel.
Q: I'm hearing that Kolzig is calling up guys and trying to get them to arrive a little earlier than usual, so everyone can have an additional week or two to get used to skating with one another. Is that true?
A: We're all excited and itching to get guys back. We're expecting to have some more guys back early. Last year was tough. Ashburn was far away. Guys weren't in hurry to come back to drive an hour and half in traffic. It was really tough. But here, a lot of guys can literally walk here.

I'm also hoping to catch up with Kolzig at some point this week. He wasn't there today.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 20, 2007; 11:02 AM ET
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Next: Q&A With Boyd Gordon


Thanks Tarik, your blog is the best and I go to it regularly for the latest news and information on the Caps.

Keep up the great work.

Posted by: Brian | August 20, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Liked the comment by Brian to Tom Poti that he would like it here. Great insight into what a vetern player thinks about Caps. Tarik thanks for great coverage

Posted by: dorgeloh | August 20, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Are these informal practices open to the public? I'm curious as to what the guys do on their own when they don't have a coach structuring things.

Posted by: false_cause | August 20, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Nice Job Tarik.
My only question is, why not roll this into a story for the print edition? This kind of content seems better for more than just the blog.

Posted by: Mark Tucker | August 20, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Tarik.

Posted by: Vlad | August 20, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"My only question is, why not roll this into a story for the print edition? This kind of content seems better for more than just the blog."

They are too busy covering the Redskins. Remember? We were all told by the bold radio dude that this is the Redskins' town.

Posted by: Finn | August 20, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

seriously, they hardly make it in the paper during the season

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I am gay

Posted by: caphcky | August 20, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It's nice to hear optimisim like that from the players themselves. Can't wait for training camp.

Posted by: Murshawursha | August 20, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

For the regulars, you may remember a discussion about why the new practice facility was (or wasn't) a big deal to FA's. Pothier put it perfectly...with the new location as it is players are likely to show up for voluntary practices earlier than last year when they had to drive out to Ashburn.

Who knows if a week of extra practice (with just part of the team) will make a difference, but it sure can't hurt.

Posted by: Jeff | August 20, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Pothier's pre-season comments are more newsworthy, insightful, and interesting that ANYTHING we tend to hear during the regular season when the "Bull Durham" cliches -- "we need to play all 60 minutes if we want to win" -- flow so freely, and meaninglessly.

Let' s hope the Caps' front office doesn't shut down this sort of interview/commentary.

Posted by: McLean, VA | August 20, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Much coolness here. I see Halpern still lives in the area. Looks like the team plans to work the New England connection a little more than in years past.

Posted by: EricS | August 20, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: strungout | August 20, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Great to hear. I'm so sad that I'm going to miss the pre-season due to working in Germany. It's the one and only negative side to this trip.

I'll make sure to raise a glass of Augustinerbrau to the Caps from the tents at Oktoberfest. Might even take my Olie jersey with me since I hear he's popular over there.

Posted by: HolyOlie | August 20, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Olie ist very popular in Germany.

Posted by: Blumenfreund | August 20, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

is or isnt, your typo is very confusing

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing that interview with us. You're the best source for this kind of information.

Glad to see the players are excited. I can't wait for the season to start. I'm optimistic that the team will actually have a chance of putting some winning streaks together, especially during the early part of the season. I just hope their optimism translates to chemistry off the ice and execution on it.

Let's go Caps!

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | August 20, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Olie is very popular in Germany.
"Ist" is the German word for is

Posted by: Blumenfreund | August 20, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Tarik- thanks for the coverage, man. I look forward to reading more of this kind of thing as the season draws near.. however I have to say, I agree that I'd rather see it in the Sports section.

Posted by: Eli | August 20, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

When the Post makes Tarik the sports editor, these stories will run in the paper. Until then, we're lucky they are willing to subsidize this blog!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Blumenfreund - Ich weiß das ;) Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch.

Posted by: HolyOlie | August 20, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Ich spreche deutsch auch...

Posted by: Jleftwing97 | August 22, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I like what I'm hearing. I'm still skeptical. The UFA (yeah! my fingers worked this time) was good for us. Something that Pothier said about the seasoned vets helping the kiddies is right. I just wish that GMGM didn't gut the team 4 years ago to get to this point.

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