Saturday at Kettler, the Washington Capitals held a strenuous morning skate ahead of their game that night with the New Jersey Devils. After team drills, Michael Latta worked on his (surprisingly good) stick-handling at center ice, before saucing some passes with former roommate Andre Burakovsky.
Despite only playing in 40 games this season, Latta has already put up a career high in points (7) and has been a valuable contributor from the Capitals’ fourth line. When he hasn’t been on the ice, the St. Clements, Ontario, native has been one of the most fascinating players on the team, dancing with dolphins, begging for Instagram follows, and ragging on roommate Tom Wilson.
I spoke to Latta about life, hockey, and Caps Twitter on Saturday inside the locker room. It was a good chat.
Well, Mike, this is becoming a routine. Every time I come to practice, I check up on you. How are you doing?
Michael Latta: Good, yeah. Boys are winning. So every time you win, you do good.
Now I know recently you guys went on a trip, what was it, to Bermuda?
Michael Latta: Bahamas! Yeah, yeah.
So you’re going to have to tell me what was it like with the dolphins and everything.
Michael Latta: [laughs] It was cool, man. Burkie was a little scared at first. He’s a little shy. He’s a shy, cute, little guy. He was a little nervous. It was really cool. We got up and [the dolphins] pushed us across the water and stuff. It was pretty cool. It was interesting for sure. It was amazing how well-trained they are, how smart they are.
Did you guys plan [the dolphin trip] before you went down or it just randomly happened?
Michael Latta: I think it was kind of an idea where we saw the brochure, but we didn’t actually plan it. We kind of just ran up there one day and were like, “How are we going to kill this day” you know? We were sitting around the pool first thing so we’re like let’s get up and do something. So we did that.
So we were checking the stats earlier and you and Brooks Laich are the best (forward) shutdown tandem on the entire team. So defensively, you’ve gotten even better. For this year, what are the things you feel like you’ve improved upon from years past?
Michael Latta: Brooks and I play well together. I think you may not notice it in the stats. We don’t have flashy moves like the rest of the team. I think we do have a role on this team and we do have an effect on the game when we get rolling. We’re able to pin guys down and tire their teams. I think the thing about our team is that we’re so deep that we have, I feel like, a really good fourth line. With Beags coming back too… I think we’re just deep so that translates. The better our team is, the better players you play with.
I don’t know. Brooks and I have played well and Richie has been a nice addition too. I think if we keep it simple and grind and try to wear teams down so when the big boys get out, they can do their thing.
So Andre has moved out. What has it been like?
Michael Latta: Quieter.
Is there less wrestling?
Michael Latta: [laughs] For sure. Burkie has always been like the little brother trying to get us going, get us excited, and start a little scrum just to get some attention. Or we’re always just kinda picking on him for fun. It’s definitely been a lot quieter. We still hang out a lot. Actually he comes over for dinner like once a week or so. We keep an eye on him. Make sure he’s doing all right.
From all year, what would maybe be the funniest thing that’s happened between you three. Like is there any particular thing that you can remember that is blog-okay?
[Latta is stumped]
I put you on the spot.
Michael Latta: Yeah, you did. For sure.
It’s just constant. Constant joking. When they start ganging up on me, me and Willy or Burkie and I ganging up on Tom. It’s constant. Everyone kind of picks sides. I don’t know the funniest thing. We’ve had some fun times though. Can’t say out here. I’m just playing.
Michael Latta: Oh really. Last year? I don’t even remember. Honestly, I have no idea. Sunday we went to brunch or something?
What did you do this year for Valentine’s Day?
Michael Latta: Tom and I — it was two weeks ago, I should remember —we just hung out all day. We went for a nice breakfast down the street. Bistro 965 or something like that. Our place is close so we went there. And we just kind of hung out. It was a nice day right?
Michael Latta: We went for a nice walk.
So you would say Tom was your valentine that day?
Michael Latta: Yeah.
There was no football on so we were lost on Sunday. It was a day off on Sunday. We didn’t know what to do. I think we watched a movie or two.
Now the last thing I wanted to ask you about is Twitter. One thing I’ve noticed is that, even I have a bunch of people who follow me, they changed their last name to Latta.
Michael Latta: Oh really?
Yeah. So you have a massive fanbase.
Michael Latta: I’ve got a big family! That’s what it is.
Do you have anything you want to say to them?
Michael Latta: Welcome to the family.
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