Busy Thursday at Caps Media Day at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex, but the Junks got a little time with the netminder as Darcy Kuemper joined the show!
And of course, the guys had to tease the 6-foot-5 Kuemper about why he chose hockey over basketball, and why the Saskatchewan native is ‘stealing goalie jobs from us 5-foot-8 guys’ as Cakes put it.
“Hockey was the right choice, but where I’m from, you just start playing hockey before you can make a decision,” Kuemper laughed. “I don’t know if there’s anyone under 6-foot in goal, but you can use common sense as to why it’s an advantage to be bigger. If you can be big and still move and be athletic, you can cover more of the net and get to where you need to be.”
Speaking of, he only had a short time with the Junks, because Day 1 of camp isn’t just a syllabus day.
“Today’s a little bit different than regular days, it’s more of Christmas morning. We have meetings and a lot of systems to go over and X’s and O’s to learn today,” Kuemper said. “First day on ice, everyone wants to make sure they get a good warmup in and gets their body ready to perform, so we ramp up from the summer skates we’ve been doing.”
A new coach means a new system in its entirety, and although the goalies aren’t necessarily implementing that system, they have to know what it is to help themselves.
“We’re not necessarily playing within them, but we have to know where they are, because that’s how we read the play in front of us,” Kuemper said. “Where the shots are coming from, what’s going to be taken away – that makes our job so much easier if we’re aware of what’s going on around us.”
The guys wondered if it’s like being a kicker or punter in the NFL, where the netminders are sort of isolated in terms of their responsibilities, but not so much – Kuemper and the defensemen know each other very well, as the last line ahead of them.
“We kind of rely on each other out there on the ice,” Kuemper said. “I try to be tight with everybody; it’s nice to have a good relationship with the other goalies, though, because only we know what it’s like and what we go through at our positions. And, we can see the whole ice from where we are, so it's part of our jobs to always be talking and making sure guys know what's going on and where they're supposed to be."
Kuemper was a new Cap last year, too, so he knows what it’s going to be like for everyone to acclimate to a new coaching staff led by Spencer Carbery.
“It’s a lot of new energy in the room, which I think is great. It’s a new start for everybody, and we have a lot to prove in our locker room after last season,” Kuemper said. “To have that excitement coming out of our staff is something everyone is really happy to see. Everyone is excited to get on the ice today and we’re looking forward to that fresh start. The energy has been contagious.”
Take a listen to Kuemper’s entire segment above, which includes some on-ice tendencies and superstitions, how he’s improved throughout his career, his pending fatherhood and more!