Long rumored to be a future captain in Washington, Tom Wilson will have another opportunity to show off his leadership skills Saturday night against the Penguins.
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced that Wilson would be one of the team’s three alternate captains after the team’s morning skate. Wilson is expected to be an alternate captain along with Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie. With Alex Ovechkin out of the lineup, no player wore the captain’s “C” on Thursday.
For Wilson, it’ll be the first time in his career he’ll sport the alternate captain’s “A” during a regular-season game.
“Tonight, to be honest, we’re going to put it on Tom Wilson because we feel like he’s a good leader,” Laviolette said after the morning skate. “It’s just a good chance to acknowledge some guys that are actually doing a good job of leading this club. We’ve always said that we felt like we had strong leadership. Tom’s been a good leader the whole time.”
Laviolette went on to explain that Wilson was getting promoted to the spot, not because of any players’ recommendation, but because the coaches thought it was right.
“It’s a coach decision,” Laviolette said. “I think when you talk about leadership, you want someone that shares your reflections of the game and of the room and how things should work on a day-to-day basis. And maintain a voice and a presence in the room when a coach isn’t in the room.”
Lavy added that the Capitals have some “terrific leaders”, that the team is not “built on one or two guys,” and that Tom’s A “is not just a token thing. It’s because these guys bring leadership to the room.”
Before Laviolette arrived in Washington, Wilson was talked up by the team’s previous two coaches to be captain material.
“He’s right there,” Reirden said to The Athletic in September 2019.
“Todd has been talking to me about it for a long time now,” Wilson said. “I just want to continue to be a leader and continue to take responsibility on and off the ice. It’s something that, over the course of time, it just kinda happens.”
Wilson last served as an alternate captain for the team during a September 16, 2019 preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Wilson was the only player that game to wear an A or a C, effectively serving as the captain over a bunch of prospects and young stars.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 16, 2019
Wilson scored a highlight-reel overtime goal to win the game.
“I just want to talk about him for a second. He does such a great job with the young players,” Reirden said. “It was really important for me to have him in the lineup tonight just with the next phase of his development as a leader. That was great to see what he does behind the scenes. We knew we lost some leaders over the summer. That was a challenge for him and I wanted to put him in a situation where he could do that. Obviously, he’s able to score the winner. He deserves it because he puts the work in.”
“I’m still pretty young,” Wilson said then. “But around here (I have) to keep some guys accountable.”
In the past, former head coach Barry Trotz hinted Wilson could be future captain material someday. “I just see the young man growing as a leader,” Trotz once said. “He’s got leadership skills.”
Trotz gave Wilson the “A” for the first time in his career during a September 26, 2016 game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“You could see the raw physicality and the skating,” former Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said last year. “But he was also one of those guys that once he got here, even when he was a rookie, you could tell that he was meant to be a captain in this league.
“We knew he was meant to be the leader of a team,” Holtby said. “And he is. It’s not a learned thing. Some people have it and some people don’t. Tom has it – his upbringing, the way his parents raised him… on top of his personality, and his drive to achieve. If you ask anyone in here, he’s the guy that’s always bringing the team together.”
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