Washington chose center Andrew Joudrey with its eighth-round choice (249th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. A 23-year-old native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Joudrey played four seasons of college hockey at the University of Wisconsin before signing his first pro contract last spring. He later appeared in a handful of regular season and playoff games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Joudrey is one of 28 participants slated to participate in the Capitals’ rookie camp which gets underway on Saturday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Joudrey was also in attendance at the team’s summer development camp in July, when we had the chance for a short conversation with him.
When we last spoke, you were just coming off a championship season at Wisconsin. This past season, you wore the “C” there. Give us an idea of what it was like defending the title and wearing the “C.”
“The first half was really tough. I think we finished just under .500 and we had a lot of teams gunning for us. That goes with the territory. When you win, everyone knows how to play and how to play in big situations, so that helped us. We fought through it, and it was good. It was a great experience to be captain with young guys and learn how to take a leadership role. It was a good year.”
You win a national championship as a junior and you wear the “C” as a senior. It seems like a good time to turn pro. I know you can’t play a fifth year [in college], but it just seems like a good time for you to turn pro. What was that experience like when you signed that first pro contract?
“It was pretty surreal. I called my parents and celebrated a little bit there. Getting to Hershey was a great thing. Getting there and just getting into your first couple of games is a pretty neat experience to see how the game changes and how different players react and play. It was pretty fun and it was a great learning experience.”
I saw a lot of you during the playoffs in Hershey. I know the brass up there was impressed with you. You were smart, heady, showed a lot speed and played well on the PK. You only had a handful of regular season games before you got thrown right into the playoffs and the team went off on that long playoff run. I’ve got to think that’s a nice jumpstart for your first full pro season.
“It was. To get the firfst five games of the regular season was great, but to play in 10 playoff games was awesome. The intensity always raises in the playoffs with each round as you go. TO be there and get some playing time, kill some penalties, see how the game picks up, it was a great experience.”
In the middle of all that you had a concussion, but you were able to come back from it before the playoffs were done. What was that experience like for you?
“It was good. I got my bell rung a little bit, but I was patient and took my time. I got ready when I was ready, came back and did the best I could.”
They said you blew away the test they give you [to determine if a player is ready to return to action after suffering a concussion]. You hadn’t been on the ice in a week and you came out, wheeled around the ice in lickety-split fashion and proved that you were ready to come back.
“I don’t know if it was rest or what it was. But they said, ‘If you can do this well and show you’re in shape, you’ll play.’ It’s a pretty good motivator.”
Having had that little taste of experience there, what do you think you need to do to improve enough to achieve your goal of playing in the NHL?
“I think it’s a matter of taking it day-by-day. In 15 games I learned a ton from the Hershey guys and the coaching staff. I think this year is about taking it game-by-game, working absolutely as hard I can, taking it all in, watching guys around you and listening to feedback from coaches. I think training camp will be a great indicator to see how guys really play [at the NHL level] and what it takes. I need to take that into the season and work as hard as I can.”
I know you and Andrew Gordon go way back and you guys and Maxime Lacroix really had some good chemistry out there today. You worked the puck well along the wall and in the corners and created some scoring chances. Is there a chemistry with you two where you can just pick it up and go?
“We’ve known each other for a long, long time. We played together in midgets, and juniors and again hopefully this year as well. We know each other pretty well. We grew up together. He works hard and he’s an easy player to play with. And that goes for Max as well. Guys who work hard are easy to play with. If the three of us work hard we can support one another and create chances through hard work.”
I know it’s hard going to a new level and everything, but have you set any personal goals for yourself for the upcoming season?
“Not specifically yet. I may sit down and do that in August or September, but for now I am taking everything day by day and just trying to soak everything in.”