[WashingtonCaps.com continues the summer series "Alumni Spotlight," where WashingtonCaps.com interviews former Washington Capitals players. Previous Alumni Spotlights include Dennis Maruk, Scott Walker, Brian Pothier, Chris Clark, Ken Klee, Matt Pettinger, Ben Clymer, Bryan Muir, Jamie Heward, Brendan Witt and Anson Carter.]
WashingtonCaps.com (WC.com): You were traded to the Capitals prior to the 93-94 season. What were you thinking when you heard you were headed to Washington?
Kevin Kaminski (KK): I was very excited. I think I was with the Quebec organization for four years and had a handful of games there. I guess what happened was Barry Trotz came to visit me in Saskatoon and went to lunch with him, and it just seemed like an exciting opportunity to go play in the NHL. Obviously it worked out, and I was excited about the players they had and was hoping to fit in at some point.
WC.com: How exactly did you earn the nickname “Killer”?
KK: I guess I got that nickname when I was about 15 years old. I had moved away to Saskatoon, I was playing AAA Midget. I liked the physical side and I was told to take the body. We were playing our rivals, the Saskatoon Contacts and I was on the Saskatoon Blazers. The goalie came out to play the puck and it was a race to play it, and instead of taking the puck I played the body. I basically knocked him [the goaltender] out, we had a big brawl, and after that I got the nickname ‘Killer’. No one had said not to take the body against the goalie.
WC.com: What do you remember most about playing for the Capitals?
KK: I was given a great opportunity to play there. I played the one game with the Minnesota North Stars, then a handful with Quebec, but my goal was to get to the NHL and stay there, and it finally happened. Obviously it’s an honor to play in the NHL, but I have great memories with the guys: scoring my first goal, really getting involved with the community, doing lots of charity. It’s were I called home for three years. It was a great experience with a great organization. My partner in crime, Craig Berube, along with Dale Hunter, we had a lot of fun on and off the ice. I just enjoyed my time in the D.C. area.
WC.com: Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
KK: I talk to Huntsy (Dale Hunter) once in a while, and Craig Berube. Olie Kolzig once in a while. I’ve been up to D.C. a few times to watch a few games and see some friends. You get older, everyone has their families, you all go your separate ways, but when I can find time try to give the guys a call to stay in touch. Especially me with coaching, Olie, Huntsy are involved with hockey in Major Junior, so I try to get some tips on players and that kind of stuff, and Keith Jones as well. Just trying to stay in touch whenever I have a free minute.
WC.com: You’re currently the head coach for the Louisiana IceGators – What has that experience been like for you?
KK: Lafayette, Louisiana, is a great experience. I call it the great little-big city. We got Baton Rouge an hour down the road and New Orleans an hour away also. The people here and the culture here are absolutely phenomenal, the people will do anything for you and the food is great. With the zydeco music, I’ve learned to do some dancing there. It’s a fun city, and I’m enjoying my experience here. Back when the Gators came into the East Coast Hockey League they held the record for league attendance. They used to sell out 11,000 a game. It’s been progress. Last year we had about four or five crowds that were right around 5,000, and finally the word’s starting to get out. The front office staff has done a phenomenal job with sponsorships and season tickets. I feel like I’ve recruited a very, very good team. We’ve build a good foundation, now it’s time to put the walls up and have a great year, and get people excited about the Ice Gators this year.
WC.com: You were known for your tough, hard-nosed playing style with the Capitals. Does it come into play with your coaching style as well?
KK: Obviously, today’s game has changed quite a bit. I still want a hard-nosed, greasy, gritty team that plays physical, plays disciplined. I want my team to be the hardest working team in the league. The guys that I have, we have about six or seven guys that can answer the bell, but also they can play. You have to be able to skate. You have to be able to play in today’s game with the speed, just being a fighter, that one dimension is kind of gone. We only have 10 forwards and six defensemen so you can’t afford to have one guy fighting and not able to play a regular shift. I feel we have guys who can score, guys with speed, guys with great vision and skill to set up those plays. But like I said I think we have the hard-nosed, greasy, gritty players. Character players we call them, to kind of piece that puzzle together. I’m really looking forward with the recruiting I’ve done to see what we can do this year to win a championship.