Alumni Spotlight: Brian Pothier
[WashingtonCaps.com continues the summer series "Alumni Spotlight," where WashingtonCaps.com interviews former Washington Capitals players. Previous Alumni Spotlights include Chris Clark, Ken Klee, Matt Pettinger, Ben Clymer, Bryan Muir, Jamie Heward, Brendan Witt and Anson Carter.]
WashingtonCaps.com (WC.com): You were acquired by the Capitals on July 1, 2006. Can you describe what you were feeling when you first heard you were going to Washington?
Brian Pothier (BP): I was looking forward to getting onto a team that was not quite as developed and I was looking forward to having a bigger role on a team. Washington was perfect because they had such a great group of young players, like [Alex] Ovechkin, and all these guys that were super talented and it gave me the opportunity to step in and play a little bit more of an important role. I love the city, I had been there many times before and it was sort of a perfect fit and it was great. It was definitely an easy decision for me.
WC.com: What do you remember the most about suiting up for your first game as a Cap during the 2006-07 season?
BP: I just remember the atmosphere of the locker room. I came from an organization that was a much older and experienced organization and we had a lot of veterans on that team. When I came to Washington I remember being in the locker room with a bunch of, I mean, we were all just a bunch of kids. We were really young and energetic and full of life and always laughing. It was probably the most fun team I have ever played on. We took our on-ice and game performance really seriously and worked really hard but we also had a lot of fun, too.
WC.com: Your first game back in the NHL following your injury was about 14 months later. Can you explain your recovery and what it was like to get back on the ice?
BP: Well that was sort of an emotional rollercoaster. You know, in my mind I had retired a few times because I was just thinking there is no way I can do this, there’s no way I can get back. You know, thank God I was able to find the trainers and doctors who were able to find the solution and with the strength coach, Mark Nemish, I was able to work hard and recover. Then, you know, the first few games I played in the minors at Hershey to try and get my rhythm back. And then I stepped in and I was able to play my first game in Atlanta and it was amazing. I honestly doubted if I would ever get back to that point where I could physically handle that again and it was sort of the culmination of a lot of hard work, grace and a lot of cool things that helped put me back into a situation where I could play. And it was… I can’t really describe the emotions, I was so excited to get back, and I missed it so much and I was still young, I thought I had a lot of hockey left in me so I was really excited to get back on the ice for the Caps.
WC.com: What was your most memorable moment with the Capitals?
BP: The playoff series were amazing. New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, those series were all great. I think personally my biggest memory was when I did come back from that injury. It was my first home game and we played Tampa and I scored the game-winning goal. It was great because the fans kind of made a nice gesture towards me and they had my picture up on the screen and it said “welcome back” and that kind of thing and that was a really touching moment. Like I said, I went through an emotional rollercoaster to get back on the ice and to get back to the point where I could score a goal in front of the team at home and win a game kind of thing. That was really a special moment for me.
WC.com: Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
BP: Yeah actually I keep in touch with quite a few of them. You know nowadays with email, texting, all these apps and all this stuff it’s not that hard to do. I make an effort to try and keep in touch with a lot of these guys. I still keep in touch with Tyler Sloan quite a bit, he was a really good friend when I was there and we chat once in a while. He is a really great guy and I really value a lot of those relationships when I was there and I try my best to keep them going.
WC.com: How did you decide on the Swiss National League A? Has your game changed at all playing overseas?
BP: Yeah it has because everything about the game is different over there. The ice is so much more wide open and the style of hockey really suits me. It suits my style of play and my injuries with the concussion problems, you know, there is a lot less contact over there. It’s still physical but it’s a little faster, they rely on speed and skill and not so much contact as it is in the NHL. It was a perfect fit, plus the Swiss league I think has a really good reputation and lifestyle-wise it’s probably the best league in Europe to go over and bring your family over. Switzerland is an amazing country. We are in Geneva, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so it was kind of hard to turn it down because it was a perfect fit for my family and me and we enjoy our time there.
WC.com: What’s next for Brian Pothier?
BP: Honestly I don’t know. I still have two years left on my contract with Geneva and we are enjoying our time there and we will take it as it comes. We sort of live in the moment, we plan for the future but live in the moment, and that’s what we’re doing.