Scott Walker was truly dealt into a great situation today. However, that was not immediately apparent in his reaction.
Walker left the ice early during today’s practice, after which he was told by General Manager Jim Rutherford that he had been traded to the Washington Capitals for a seventh-round pick. The emotions were still fresh as he met with the media.
“So many emotions. Too many,” he said, his eyes welling up and nearly every word trailing off into a whisper. “I’m excited to move and try to win, but it’s tough to leave the guys here.”
Walker formed a special bond with his current group of teammates during last year’s playoffs, when the group rallied around him and his wife Julie following her cervical cancer diagnosis. Despite dealing with that undeniable hardship, Walker excelled in easily the deepest postseason run of his career, scoring the goal to clinch the Hurricanes’ second-round series against Boston in overtime of Game 7.
“It’s tough when they supported you so much last year,” he said of his Carolina teammates.
Ironically, his performance at that time is what got him traded. Despite playing just 33 games this year and only returning from a 21-game shoulder-related hiatus last night, his work during the 2009 playoffs was significant enough that the Washington Capitals decided to add him for a playoff run of their own. Washington currently holds an 11-point lead for the Eastern Conference’s top spot
“Scotty gets an opportunity to go to a team that has a legitimate run at the cup this year,” said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. “He’s earned that over the course of the year because he’s such a great soldier.”
”You couldn’t ask for something better,” said Walker. “It’s close to my family and I’ll be able to come down, so I’m excited.”
Although the Hurricanes do get some salary relief and will also get a chance to insert some younger players into their lineup, part of the move was getting Walker that opportunity to make another run deep into the playoffs on Washington team that has looked poised to do so all season.
”Scotty was such a very good player for us and such a good person for us,” said Maurice. “He dealt with so many injuries this year that he really hasn’t been able to play much, and I think it’s an example of the organization really appreciating what he did here.”
While it was tough to say goodbye, it’s a good bet that Walker’s excitement will become a lot more apparent when he joins his new team.