Brian Pothier discusses his homecoming
"You're on a team and in a community, your kids are in school, you have a house, everything's normal," Brian Pothier said Wednesday morning at the Verizon Center. "And then in 10 seconds, you get the news that you're not gonna be there any more. And it's kind of upheaval. The world kind of goes out of control for a little bit, and you just find a way to deal with it."
Pothier was discussing his trade from Washington -- where he had spent most of four seasons -- to Carolina. He was standing in the other dressing room at Verizon Center, having walked in through the other entrance -- "still weird," he said. His jersey had a No. 5, even though his pads still had a faded No. 2, his old number in D.C. He said he's talked to almost all of his ex-teammates since the trade, and that he continues to wish them well, for multiple reasons.
"They're my friends, man," Pothier explained. "The last four years, I spent most of my life with those guys. They're all good buddies. I still keep in touch with guys I played in Ottawa with and that was four, five years ago. You meet a lot of good people around the league through your travels and you keep in touch with those guys, and they're lifelong friends....
"I want to see my friends play well and do well and succeed. I want to see them do well. And then on top of that, I want to see them beat everybody so they run away with the President's Trophy, so that we have a better opportunity to get in the playoffs. So a couple reasons why I'm rooting for them. But overall the Washington organization is a top shelf organization, and I hope they're very successful. I really want to see all those people succeed."
(Chip Alexander, the Hurricanes beat writer, also asked Pothier whether his years of practice against the Caps' offensive threats would be of aid Wednesday night.
"No, I don't think so," Pothier said. "These guys are so talented and so skilled. They're unpredictable, they really are. We'll see how it goes tonight. Just try to keep them to the outside. They're obviously special players, probably one of the best lines in hockey right now. It was fun watching them play ever night.")
Pothier played in 13 of the Caps' 14 playoff games a year ago, and was steady both on the ice and in the dressing room; most media members would say he was the most thoughtful quote. He was also one of the steadily decreasing links to the very different past; of the team's top 14 scorers in '06-'07, only Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Boyd Gordon and Brooks Laich remain.
I asked Pothier whether it will be hard to watch the Caps' next playoff run from the outside, but he wasn't ready to commit to that. Carolina's in 13th place in the East, nine points out of the playoffs, but the Hurricanes are one of the NHL's hottest teams, and Pothier's seen a late-season surge before.
"We're competing for a playoff spot here," he said. "It's an opportunity for me to go to a new organization and do something special with a different group of guys. From the moment I walked in the room, the guys have been great. And the coaching staff, they've all been really good and treated me really well. So far it's been a lot of fun. it'll be interesting to play against these guys tonight. We're not out of it; we're far from out of it actually. We're competing to win some games and put a string together, and we have a chance to see these guys in the first round."
His wife and three young children will remain in the D.C. area, visiting Raleigh as often as they can, and he spent Tuesday night at his old house. I suggested that he'd get a big ovation from the home fans Wednesday night; "no chance," he said.
Well, I respectfully disagree.
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