Tom Wilson, who many believe to be a future captain of the Washington Capitals, will get the chance to display some more of his leadership ability on Friday night when the Capitals take on the Arizona Coyotes.
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced that Wilson would be one of the team’s alternate captains after the Caps’ morning skate. Wilson will join John Carlson with an ‘A’ on his sweater due to both Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie being missing from the lineup due to injury.
This will be the second time under Laviolette that Wilson will sport an ‘A’ after he did so against the Penguins last May.
“He’s typically a guy that throws an ‘A’ on”, Laviolette said. “He’s been a great leader inside of our room.”
Tom Wilson will wear an "A" on his jersey tonight vs Arizona.
(Was Backstrom's A, then Oshie's A, but with both out, it will go to Wilson)
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) October 29, 2021
“He’s been really good,” Laviolette said of Wilson at Thursday’s practice. “He really is the muscle and the engine on the car. He goes into the corners, he bulls away around the net. You’ll often find him in front of the net battling for position, trying to give guys more freedom away from the puck. If people are going at the net there’s more room in the offensive zone for players to move around. I think he’s continuing on. For me last year he was a power play guy, he was a penalty kill guy. He’s somebody that I trust at the end of the game either way if we gotta win it or we’re trying to hold on to win it. I think he handles all of that. I think his leadership in the room continues to grow. All of that was there and I think it’s continued on this year.”
Wilson has long been talked up by almost every coach he has played for in Washington as a growing leader.
“We’re going to put it on Tom Wilson because we feel like he’s a good leader,” Laviolette said last May. “We’ve always said that we felt like we had strong leadership. Tom’s been a good leader the whole time. 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.”
Todd Reirden echoed some of those same sentiments when he was behind the Capitals bench and gave Wilson an ‘A’ during a September 16, 2019 preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“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.”
Before both Laviolette and Reirden was Barry Trotz who was the first to award Wilson with an ‘A’ in his career during another preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016.
“I just see the young man growing as a leader,” Trotz once said. “He’s got leadership skills.”
As of Friday, Wilson still leads the Capitals in assists with seven and is the team’s third-leading scorer after his linemates, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
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