Alumni Spotlight: Scott Walker
[WashingtonCaps.com continues the summer seiries "Alumni Spotlight," where WashingtonCaps.com interviews former Washington Capitals players. Previous Alumni Spotlights include Brian Pothier, Chris Clark, Ken Klee, Matt Pettinger, Ben Clymer, Bryan Muir, Jamie Heward, Brendan Witt and Anson Carter.]
WashingtonCaps.com (WC.com): You were traded to the Capitals late in the ’09-’10 season. What was it like going from a team out of contention, to one in the midst of a playoff run and an eventual Presidents’ Trophy winner?
Scott Walker (SW): Well, it was great. It was the first time I’d won the Presidents’ Trophy, albeit I was only there for a couple months. It was a thrill though. Jim Rutherford in Carolina came to me, and there were really two teams I could have gone to at the time. I thought Washington had the best chance of winning the cup that year, so I picked Washington. I had familiarity with George McPhee, and really believed in that team. I just think we ran into a tough draw that year in Montreal; that was probably the toughest matchup we could have ended up with.
WC.com: What was the team’s atmosphere and mindset when you came in late that season?
SW: We were preparing to go into the playoffs, and go for a deep run. We had a lot of extra guys at the trade deadline, and we were so far ahead of everybody for the Presidents’ Trophy I’m not so sure that affected us, and we just pulled ahead even more. Then we got up against a team that had to battle and fight their way into the playoffs, and they kind of worked on momentum. It was a hard fought, seven-game series.
WC.com: You scored two goals in your debut as a Capital. How special was it for you to come in and make such a strong first impression on your team and the fans?
SW: That was exciting. Obviously, not something you think about doing. You’re trying to play well every night, work hard, and it just happened to be. It worked out great, personally, because you get your feet wet and show your teammates that you came here to play and play hard every night. On a personal note, I scored for every team I played for; because it was a short stint in Washington I could have easily gone through that stint without scoring. I feel proud that I got to score with every team I played on.
WC.com: You had a long career leading up to your time in Washington. How did your experience in the league help in assimilating with your new team?
SW: To be honest, it was the first time I’d been traded mid-season. I’d been drafted, then picked up in the expansion draft by Nashville, and then traded in the summer to Carolina. It was the first time ever for me coming to a team mid-season. It was interesting, no matter how long you play for, how many years, it’s still new. You have to jump in there, get accustomed to new systems and new team. That was exciting being an older guy, it made me feel young again and rejuvenated me. I was really excited for a big push towards the Stanley Cup, and unfortunately it was disappointing for everyone, none more so than me because it was the last team I played for.
WC.com: Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
SW: I haven’t kept in touch with a ton of them. Obviously, I played a while with Joe Corvo in Carolina, so I see them when they’re around. I still have a relationship with George (McPhee), picking his brain about coaching and being part ownership for my junior team (Guelph Storm). I’ve known him since I was 16-years-old. It’s fun to talk to him, and he helps me out a lot.
WC.com: You’ve been head coach of the Guelph Storm the past couple years – what has that experience been like for you?
SW: It’s been great. One thing you always wonder is what you’re going to do after your career. It was literally Christmas in my first year out that I took over the head-coaching job for the Guelph Storm. That was really exciting and I love it. It was everything I’d thought it’d be and more. It’s really hard, not easy by any means. I think as a player in the NHL, we all think we could coach and it’d be no problem. But it’s a lot more work than people think, and it’s rewarding but also stressful. I love working with the kids here in junior, and getting to see lots of guys through scouting, like friends and ex-teammates that I played against because a lot of them are in scouting. I really enjoy it. Anytime you can be around hockey and talking hockey, that’s basically what I do for my whole life. It’s exciting, and buying into ownership this summer was really what I wanted to do.