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Behind the Bench: 9-21-09

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
Last week and this week, I have been doing something that is not fun, but is totally necessary—that is cutting guys.

            I was cut 12 times at NHL camps, so I know how it feels. I don’t like doing it and we do not take it lightly. Players today work so hard in the summer and come in with the thought that they can make the team. The average fan can look at a roster and say this guy or that guy is making the team and that may be true, but when you are a coach it is difficult.
            I hate giving bad news. I don’t think anybody relishes in firing people and that is basically what you are doing when you are a coach up here. We try to have such a competitive camp and try to leave the ones going to Hershey in a positive frame of mind. I was on the receiving end of the generic cut many times where the coach says you are being sent down and that you need to, “Go down and work at it.” I never appreciated that, so I tell our guys the truth. I tell them they did not work hard enough or I tell them that they are going to have to work really hard to get a spot in Hershey because they are usually so good. I let them know what they need to work on why they are not in the NHL. The guys that are going to go to Hershey will know that we know they can play. Now we can call them up and they can make inroads here and do the things that can help them possibly get to the NHL on a full-time basis. Even though it is a miserable day in most of their lives, we want to leave them with a very positive outlook on the future.
            However, we do not want them to get the feeling that just because they did not make this team that the minor league team is an easy walk. The Hershey team works so hard and is always a threat to win the Calder Cup, so I think that is an important thing to tell them.
            Throughout camp we also try to reward guys who maybe are not going to make the team, but who work really hard while they are here. For instance, this year Ryan Jasinsky was just invited to rookie camp. He did a great job and got into a great fight in the rookie game so we rewarded him and invited him to the main camp. We have guys slated for Hershey who have been working so hard that we are going to keep them around for a few more days and they might get into a game. There were guys in Chicago the other night who worked so hard and played so well that we are going to have to give them another game. A lot of times the additional game is based upon not that they are going to make the team, but to see if their consistency is going to hold up. If it is then maybe they can be a genuine call up.
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