David Gregory has reported on the O.J. Simpson and Timothy McVeigh cases, covered three presidential campaigns and served as moderator of the NBC news program "Meet the Press" for the past four years. But he's also an avid hockey fan who grew up on the West Coast watching Wayne Gretzky during the Great One's days with the Los Angeles Kings and subsequently became a Washington Capitals fan thanks to his 9-year-old son.
Gregory was on the other side of the interviewing process Thursday night, appearing as a guest on "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman" shortly before the Capitals and Boston Bruins dropped the puck on Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at TD Garden.
"The Caps have been on a great streak here over the past five years and so it really caught him at such an early age," Gregory said. "He was getting more and more into it and dragging me into it, and then I became the big fan of the family -- and now we are a hockey family, for sure."
Known for his willingness to ask tough questions to the nation's top politicians, Gregory didn't mince words when it came to talking about some of the struggles the Capitals and their star captain have faced living up to expectations in past postseasons.
"I think the issue with the Caps since I've become a fan and learned more about this has been postseason play and an inability to step up and show leadership in the playoffs, even with some more veterans as we had last year on the club," he said. "Even the Great Eight [Alex Ovechkin], as a captain, I don't think has shown enough leadership getting into the playoffs to really propel the team.
"I think we have also struggled with the goalie problem -- it's on display again as we go into the playoffs tonight against the Bruins, with [Tomas] Vokoun with the groin injury, and the fact we don't seem to have a set goalie. We have a lot of turnover. We've had some tough injuries, the coaching change, so there's just been more volatility as far as I can tell that's made this the kind of season it's been."
Gregory said he was still holding out hope that playing the underdog role for a change against the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins would give the Capitals a spark in the series.
He also addressed some of the ways in which hockey and the political realm can intertwine.
"In some of these great rivalries among the fan bases, it gets as polarized as I think a lot of people are in the country, where they don't even want to know anything good that the other side has to offer," he said with a laugh. "I like to think of myself as much more of a centrist. I'm a real partisan in terms of being a Caps fan, but I also really enjoy seeing some of these other great standouts in the League."
Gregory was asked how leadership in politics compares to what one witnesses in hockey.
"Leadership really does translate," he said. "You've got to be able to inspire a team, you've got to be able to keep your head cool and not go too high or too low when things are challenging, but you've got to be able to set a course and a direction. And I think that's true of a president or of a leader in Congress or the head of a hockey club."