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Coaches, Ovechkin influenced Niskanen in picking Caps

Jul 12, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

Matt Niskanen Getty Images

As a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, defenseman Matt Niskanen had his fair share of experience playing against the rival Washington Capitals, but he was also watching them for a different reason.

“Really my whole career, I’ve always kind of kept an eye on the Caps, because of (Alex) Ovechkin, so it’s just a fun team to watch and has been for a long time. So I’ve been pretty familiar with the people here and how they play,” Niskanen said, per the Monumental Network.

The Capitals’ core of forwards is a big part of what convinced him that this team was capable of competing for the Stanley Cup despite their previous shortcomings.

The fact that they hired head coach Barry Trotz and assistant coach Todd Reirden also peaked his interest. He already had experience working with Reirden in Pittsburgh and Niskanen felt continuing that relationship would be the best way for him to continue his growth after recording 46 points last season.

“That was a big factor, familiarity with (Reirden) … what he’s done for my career, building my confidence, helping me become a better player,” Niskanen said.

Niskanen obviously didn’t have the same kind of relationship with Trotz, but after talking to the bench boss, he was left with the impression that he’ll work well in Trotz’s system.

He also got a chance to speak with Ovechkin and is looking forward to playing alongside him. Niskanen is already used to dealing with star forwards on the ice from his time with Pittsburgh and his goal will be to get the puck to Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom as quickly as possible.

“(Ovechkin)’s a force. If he keeps going, if (Trotz) gets everyone on the same page, I think he’ll have another outstanding year,” Niskanen said.

  1. bleedrangerblue - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Get ready to lose. That sums it up.

    • capsnbohs23 - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      I call this the Ovi rule- Any other team loses its a team loss, caps lose its all because of Ovi

      • lowenni - Jul 12, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        Haha, brilliantly put. He receives all the blame for the Caps failures, and it says a lot that he’s able to handle it the way he does. Very mature, and he blames himself as well, which is what a good captain should do.

      • phtjoey - Jul 12, 2014 at 8:33 PM

        Trotz believes Ovechkin has to “grow his game if we’re going to win a championship.”

        “Alex has got a bit too much glide in his game,”

        “I think if he gets a little less glide in his game that he’ll be as dynamic and hard to handle as he ever was.”

        To summarize, he’s far from playing like a franchise player should.

    • c9castine - Jul 12, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      you guys have one good year up there and act like you are the voice of winning.

      boston does that too but at least they actually won when they got to the final.

    • 1cupin74years - Jul 12, 2014 at 7:55 PM


  2. lowenni - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    I’m excited about Niskanen. I know a lot of people think it’s an overpayment, but he did have a real good year and while he’s not a top-2 blueliner he does a lot of things well, and combined that equals a good defenseman. While the price of Orpik is admittedly awful, he’s gonna bring a ton of intangibles and leadership to the team that we’ve been lacking. He’s gonna help the young defenseman get better and can teach guys like Carlson, Alzner, Greenie, and Scoarlov more about defense. That’s the real reason he was able to command so much on the open market. With guys like Kuznetsov coming in full time and Burakovsky developing extremely well (there’s rumblings Jakub Vrana could make a push for a roster spot as well), the future is good. I think Trotz will be able to get everyone on board, and this is a deep Caps team if people like Ward can repeat their success.

    • c9castine - Jul 12, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      sometimes its ok to overpay a guy like that if he keeps performing at the level that he was over paid for…if that makes any sense.

      orpik wont do that. hes definitely going to be valuable to the team and can play much better than all these internet hacks think he can. but yeah, you cant really justify that contract. just hope for the best man.

      trotz i believe will be a guy who can bring the team together and get them playing as a unit.

      • broadstreetbeatdown - Jul 12, 2014 at 8:21 PM

        Even Barry Trotz can’t get OV to back check.

      • c9castine - Jul 12, 2014 at 9:02 PM

        How do you know they havent played a game yet

      • broadstreetbeatdown - Jul 13, 2014 at 2:30 AM

        It’s called the law of probability. Hanlon, Boudreau, Hunter, and Oates couldn’t get him to back check and neither will Trotz. Charlie don’t surf and Ovechkin don’t back check.

  3. capsnbohs23 - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    There should be some really intelligent comments coming up with this article

  4. Stiller43 - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Not the fact you got overpaid and (the worse part about that deal) vastly overcommitted to? Only stars should get 7 year deals, not 2nd pair D men.

  5. pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 12, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    -35 sure is outstanding.

  6. phtjoey - Jul 12, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    It’s not ALL the blame. It’s a huge chunk of the blame on goals he floats, and for setting a bad example as the leader of the team.

    • blomfeld - Jul 12, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      You’re being too gracious Joey. Ovechkin is a lazy, over-paid, parasitic, self-centered, childish ‘uber-hyped’ flake who’s ‘completely’ failed to deliver ! Everyone knows that, including longtime Caps fans themselves. The bottom line remains that until the Ovechkin ‘question’ is resolved, Washington is unfortunately destined to continue floundering as a franchise … and that’s a shame 😦

      • capsnbohs23 - Jul 12, 2014 at 11:31 PM

        you are such a loser its actually hilarious

      • phtjoey - Jul 13, 2014 at 4:33 PM

        you call it as it is, my friend. a “madoffian” shame.

  7. paulerhythm - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    We shall see if the signings help or hurt the Caps, won’t we?

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