From the day he first joined the Caps organization as the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in Columbus, Washington defenseman Karl Alzner has been adept at filling reporters’ notebooks. He was always accomplished beyond his years at that off-ice aspect of the business, and has only improved in the six years since.
Just before news broke yesterday that Alzner had re-upped for four years with the Capitals, I spoke with him on the phone from his home in Calgary. I got more than enough quotes to finish off my Wednesday blog entry on Alzner’s contract, and figured it would be a shame to waste the rest.
So here are the “cutting room floor” snippets of our conversation from yesterday. You can also listen to Alzner’s Wednesday evening conference call with the media if you’re so inclined.
On negotiations and the avoidance of arbitration:
“The first contract I had really no leverage whatsoever. The older you get, you slowly get more leverage on your side. It shows what I’ve tried to do on the ice the last few years – and the last two years especially – and having a bit of an opportunity to make my own case gave me a bit of ammunition. I don’t really think you have a ton of ammunition until you get into those [unrestricted] free agent years. But like I say, I’m happy we didn’t have to go in and use that. That’s a positive.”
On the difficulty of justifying the value of a top defensive defenseman such as himself:
“If you’re looking strictly at a résumé, it’s not the most impressive résumé. You need video evidence of a player like me to get the full effect of what I try to do for a team. I think that’s one of the things with arbitration. Players like me I guess in the past typically don’t fare as well as they would on the free agent market. Free agency is always the best for everybody, but I think maybe a little more so for a defensive defenseman. It’s a tough position to judge. But I like it so much that I’d rather be a good stay-at-home defenseman than a good offensive defenseman. It’s just the way that I’m wired. If it means fewer dollars, then that’s fine with me. I’m happy with the way that I play the game, although I would like to help out the team in a bigger way if I could.”
On looking forward to training camp getting underway in September:
“We were all feeling so good at the end f the season and even going into the playoffs. We really liked the identity of the team and guys started to really find ways to succeed in that system. Hopefully this year, guys will be on the same page right from the start. We’ve got a lot of the same guys once again, another year older and a year more pissed off about not winning. Hopefully that’s something that helps. I’m really excited about it. I started playing with [Mike Green] toward the end of the year and I’m feeling really good about that. If we get to stick together this year it should be great for both of us; we can help each other out with the parts of the game that we are both specializing in. I can’t wait. It’s going to be fun. It will be nice to get a full 82 games in. If you’re trying to get to a thousand games, it’s tough to get there playing only 48.”
On the difference between playing with Green and with John Carlson:
“I feel like Greenie gets keyed on a little bit more than Carly does. He might take a little bit more punishment than Carly with guys wanting to dump the puck in his corner and take a run at him. Sometimes that means a little bit less work for me because it’s always on his side. But for the most part they are very similar. They’re quick to join the rush and good at making the outlet pass or skating it out. It’s very similar game that I have to play with them which made for an easy transition for me. Greenie’s obviously got that really high-end skill. Sometimes he makes plays on the blueline that make you a little bit nervous, but he always finds a way to make it work and if he doesn’t make it work he finds a way to get back there. So he keeps me on my toes and it’s always exciting to play with him.”