[WashingtonCaps.com continues the summer series "Alumni Spotlight," where WashingtonCaps.com interviews former Washington Capitals players. Previous Alumni Spotlights include Jamie Heward, Brendan Witt and Anson Carter.]
WashingtonCaps.com (WC.com): You signed with the Washington Capitals on August 12, 2005. What do you recall about your thought process following the signing?
Bryan Muir (BM): “It was a very good opportunity for me knowing where the Capitals were in their growth as a team. After having the whole [Jaromir] Jagr thing happen they were kind of rebuilding. I was looking forward to a great opportunity to come to camp and try and make the team. I had the opportunity to make the team and I ended up making it, so it was a really good situation for me and I was just excited to be in a spot where I could have the opportunity to play.
WC.com: You played for the Capitals for two seasons (2005-06 and 2006-2007). What do you think has changed the most about the team?
BM: I was there in the early years which were kind of the growing times and I sat in the arena with around 5,000 to 7,000 fans at games. I actually went to a playoff game against the Rangers this year and it was special to see the sea of red and the amazing fans who have come to support the team. You knew that they were always there but everyone loves a winner and the Caps have done very well with Ovechkin. For me it was nice to be there for the beginning of that with him because I got see him grow as a player and as a person and kind of help pull that team along. It was nice to be a part of it for two years and now to see the success that’s there, kudos to the owners and to everyone in the organization who has helped bring it along.
WC.com: We know you attended a playoff game at Verizon Center this season, what was it like to watch your former team as a fan?
BM: It’s great! I still have some contacts with the guys. When they come up to Toronto I go downtown to see them. I have a young son that loves hockey and Ovechkin is his favorite player so we get to go down and meet them. But to see that culmination of hard work and what the people have done in the organization, the players as well, it’s a battle to go through those bad times when you know that things aren’t the greatest but you’re growing as a team, you’re growing as an organization. I think the leadership in the organization has been great to get them where they have, and now to be there and hopefully stay on top and win something. It [this year’s postseason] was frustrating to see, I ended up going to New York for the Game 7 playoff game when they ended up losing against the Rangers, but to see the old faces and a lot of those guys – Greenie [Mike Green], Laicher [Brooks Laich], Ovi [Alex Ovechkin] and [Alexander] Semin – they’re still around and some of the other guys are still around like Olie Kolzig, who’s now the goalie coach. I saw him in Toronto and I saw him at one of the playoff games and some of the old faces in the organization, from Liz [Elizabeth Wodatch, director of community relations] to Katy Headman [director of team operations] to other people, it’s been nice and they welcome you with open arms. You’re part of that family and it was great to be a part of.
WC.com: Do you keep in touch with any other former or current Capitals players?
BM: Yeah I do keep in touch but it’s tough, they have their life and I have my new life where I’m now an institutional equity sales guy in Toronto, so things are a little different with me, but I try to keep in touch and fire emails off and if there’s any events or anything I need help with I try to get the guys to help me out. They all play hockey and I’m done now, but as far as friendships I stay in touch with some of the guys and see how they’re doing and I get to watch them on TV and see them progressing in their careers. It’s nice to be able to be a part of it and stay in touch with them.
WC.com: What are some of the major differences in playing hockey in the United States vs. overseas?
BM: It’s a much different game and I learned a lot. I was fortunate enough to play in Russia, Sweden, Finland and Germany internationally during my career. The culture experience is amazing. I don’t think you really get an understanding of what European guys [in the NHL] have to do to come over to North America and make that adjustment, including living in North America. You know Canada and the United States are very similar and everything is kind of the same but you don’t understand that until you go and immerse yourself into another culture like Sweden or Russia. You have to learn the languages and understand the barriers that are there when you are playing. Hockey-wise it’s different, the rinks are bigger and I don’t think it’s as physical a game as here [North America]. They play more of a puck-control, finesse game. It’s still rough hockey – not in the sense of as much hitting – but it’s still physical and they love to play puck control. There are guys who are very talented, big guys and good skaters and I enjoyed it as far as developing my career. It was definitely a help when I got to play over in Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Germany so you know I speak highly about it and I appreciate the opportunities I was given there.
WC.com: What was your most memorable moment with the Washington Capitals?
BM: You know what; I remember when Ovi first came and the hype around him. It kind of surrounded him as this enigma that came out of Russia, like this unknown entity that everyone was going to talk about how great he was. I remember chatting with some of my friends and they were asking me if they should take him on their fantasy team and at first I was like “ehhh, you know he’s looking pretty good.” The couple of first days at training camp he didn’t stand out too much. And then the next day at training camp I remember – I will never forget this – he skated end to end on two breakaways and he ran two guys over and I remember immediately calling my buddies and was like, “I think you better take this kid because he will probably score 50 to 60 goals.” And I think he actually got 52 his first season. It was enjoyable to be part of that and people always ask me that question, what was it like to play with Ovi? He’s a great player and a really good person as well. I think he has really grown into himself as a person and as a professional and I think he’s going to keep moving forward and he’s a great face for the organization. The memorable moment will also have to be playing with Ovi in his first game and being on the ice for his first goal.
WC.com: What have you been doing since your retirement from hockey?
BM: Well I retired after playing in Russia and Germany and the market was definitely a difficult situation, that whole economy blow-up that happened in the States and in the rest of the world, which caused the economy to come to a grinding halt. It was tough to get a job at that time so I ended up getting a job as an investment advisor for the World Bank of Canada and I didn’t like that job so a year later I moved on and got into the current role I’m in now, which is a much more interesting role and more dynamic. I get to deal with clients, institutional clients, selling stocks, deals, and bring up equity issues to them. It’s been a very interesting three to four years out of hockey now. Things change and you have to be prepared for life after hockey. I think it’s always difficult. The transition is one thing I talked to other alumni about who have made that transition and they eluded to how difficult it was, just in the fact of lifestyle changes and everything that goes with it, your family. I was prepared but I don’t think you can ever be truly prepared for it. It was a difficult time but keeping busy at work was definitely a help and now I’m four years out [of playing hockey] and happy where I’m at, enjoying it, and I look back at Mr. [Richard] Fairbank, who is one of the Caps owners, he was instrumental in helping me in my transition because we used to chat about what I was going to do after hockey. He used to say, “Where are you going to go and what are you going to do?” And one day he sat me down and we did a mock interview and he explained what I needed to do. He was a very successful business man so I listened to him and it was kind of a father-son moment for me when he helped me in the transition. And he helped me think about what I should be doing and moving on. I really appreciate it and definitely keep in touch with him and I want to thank him for that. The Capitals organization is great overall and they helped me through it.
WC.com: What’s next on the horizon for Bryan Muir?
BM: Well right now I’m just chugging along. It’s interesting in hockey you know, you always have goals and it’s always to stay and play in the NHL. Now I have this job and things are going well but it’s a tough time in the market and I have three young boys who are playing hockey now. It’s a busy time for me so I don’t know if I have one ultimate goal but watching my kids grow up and enjoy themselves and be a good father would be the first and foremost thing on my mind. I think as you progress in life you see how things move and I know that my career is now over and I’m on to a new thing. Now I just want to be successful at my job and be happy and have happy, healthy kids and just watch them grow.