In an open, emotional interview with The Fan 106.7, he talked about the experience of being traded again and what he thinks the Capitals’ Stanley Cup reunion will be like nine years from now.
“It’s hard. It’s hard,” Niskanen said to hosts of The Fan, Danny Rouhier and Grant Paulsen. “You get pretty close with your buddies and your teammates, especially when you have success and do something as special as win the Stanley Cup together in the recent past. Pretty hard to say goodbye.”
Niskanen was receiving messages and texts from teammates, even missing a call during the interview.
“Pretty hard to say goodbye,” Niskanen said. “But we’re together forever.”
This isn’t Niskanen’s first trade. He was drafted 28th in the first round by the Dallas Stars in 2005 draft, played his first NHL game in 2007-08, and was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2010-11 season. In 2014, he signed a seven-year, $40.25 million contract the Capitals. He was a first-pairing defenseman in DC, playing 390 games and becoming a Stanley Cup champion in 2018.
Being part of a Penguins, Capitals, Flyers Bermuda Triangle of shifting rivalries will be an interesting experience. “It’ll be weird, really weird playing against the old teammates and my friends and stuff,” Nisky said. “There’s one side of me that’s got to be a pro and go after them and try to shut them down and all that but there’s gonna be some weird feelings that first night.”
He’s already looking forward to seeing his teammates in nine years after the skates have been hung up and some extra weight has been padded on. “I always say I’m gonna be 250 [pounds],” Niskanen joked. “I’m gonna put on 50 and Ovi might put on even more.”
Niskanen had hoped to stay with the Capitals but knew that, with the cap situation being what it was, a trade was a possibility. He heard from his agent and general manager Brian MacLellan the night before to let him know what was coming.
“There’s not many crappy parts of the job,” he said, “but this is one of them. This can happen.”
While the trade itself wasn’t what he wanted, he didn’t hold any grudges and focused on the positives. “I have nothing but good things to say about the organization, the city, fans. The way I was treated there was just fantastic. I have no regrets…I was part of something really special.”
Headline photo: Cara Bahnuik
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