Photo credit: Kyle Mace
Andrew Gordon won two Calder Cups with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears in four seasons. He played nine games with Washington last season, scoring his first career NHL goal on future hall of famer Martin Brodeur, a feat he celebrated by kissing assister Marcus Johansson on the bench. But Andrew left the organization over the summer to hazard the free market. After a promising performance at Anaheim’s training camp, Gordon was added to the team’s roster (and then cheated on us in Finland with another blog).
I caught up with the notoriously well-spoken Andrew Gordon after the Ducks’ painful 5-4 overtime loss to the Capitals on Tuesday. We talked about California weather, competing against his former teammates, and the enduring adoration of Washington’s fans.
Ian Oland: So Andrew, what’s the move been like from Hershey and Washington to Anaheim?
Andrew Gordon: It was different going in. California’s a lot different from the East Coast cities I’ve played in and grown to love. It’s good. Everywhere you go in hockey, it’s the same sort of thing. A lot of good hockey players. A lot of good guys who came up through the same system and had the same coaches and everything. The guys [at Anaheim] are great, and they’re easy to get along with. Plus, you leave the rink, and it’s 85 degrees everyday. Nothing to complain about there. It’s a much different lifestyle up there though. It took a little bit of an adjustment.
Ian Oland: What was it like playing your old teammates tonight? In the first period, you almost checked John Carlson through the boards.
Andrew Gordon: No, I know. I just tried to make sure that I wasn’t thinking about it. That was the main thing. You know, in practice, you go out there and you don’t really finish your checks as hard as you would. These are guys I practiced with and against for years and years and years. I really tried to make sure that I didn’t treat it like that. I tried to make sure that I treated it like a game situation and ‘do what I do.’ There was a lot of good players out there that I know a lot of their tendencies and stuff. At the same time, it’s a quick game out there. It’s a fast game. Guys with that much skill can beat you. You gotta remember when you’re out there who’s on the ice with you. [The Capitals] have so much skill — no matter if you’re friends with the guys or not — they’re going to try and go out there and beat you. It was fun leading up to the game, but it wasn’t the result I wanted. I’m not too keen on how tonight ended.
Ian Oland: During your years in Hershey, you were a jack of all trades. You started your career there as a bottom-six forward. Later on, you played on the first line and was always out there on the power play. So far in Anaheim, you’ve mostly played on the third line and when the team’s shorthanded. What has the transition been like to concentrate so much on offense to now being a bottom six guy again?
Andrew Gordon: Well, you have to find a role out there. You know, guys like Perry. Guys like Getzlaf. Guys like Bobby Ryan, Selanne, Koivu. These are the guys that have been putting up numbers for years and years and years. We have guys that can score goals. We have guys that are going to play those offensive minutes, those powerplay minutes. So they’re starting me off on the PK. It was something I used to do back in Hershey a few years ago. It was something I used to do back in college quite a bit. So I’ve been taking that really seriously and have really been trying to contribute on that end of the ice. A team is made up of 20-25 guys and not everyone is going to score every night. When you’re not scoring — as I’ve been struggling with lately — you have to make sure you’re contributing in other ways every night. Our PK was pretty good, but [the bottom six guys] have to find a way to chip in. Like I said earlier, change is inevitable when a team starts struggling like this. Managers and coaches aren’t going to put up with losing. So everybody’s gotta find a way to dig ourselves out of this. Everybody’s got to find a way to do their jobs a little bit better. For me, that’s keeping up with this PK and not giving up anything while I’m on the ice. And also finding a way to contribute offensively.
Photo credit: Kyle Mace
Ian Oland: What did you think of the warm reception you got from Caps fans during warm-ups? There certainly were a lot of signs…
Andrew Gordon: It was really nice. It was wonderful. Yeah, it was good to see a lot of people from Hershey, some familiar faces. It’s a community that’s embraced me and I really grew to love during my time here. To see that I haven’t been forgotten quickly, that really means a lot to me. It’s really a unique situation here in Washington and Hershey. The fans and the media, they don’t mind that short two-hour drive ‘down the street.’ It’s sorta like one big community whereas with a newer organization — the teams are split up by cost and country — and you don’t really hear what’s going on in the minor leagues. Even though I played about 95% of my career in Hershey, it was like I was a member of this Washington Capitals family for a long time. It was great to see how some of the staff and some of the fans welcomed me back. It was much appreciated.
Ian Oland: Some of my friends have been nagging me, so of course I have to ask: when’s the Twitter hiatus going to end?
Andrew Gordon: ::laughs::
Ian Oland: Is it because you’re superstitious or maybe waiting for a certain something to happen this year?
Andrew Gordon: I just wanted to make sure I was focusing on the right things. There was no single event that triggered it. I just wanted to make sure I was thinking about the right things out there. Focus a little bit harder. But you know, I should definitely switch back soon. I haven’t scored a goal since I quit! I think with Movember coming up, I’m going to do some promotion and generate some money for that organization. I’m sure you’ll see me back on there pretty soon.
Image of Hiller’s mask via The Goalie Guild.
Ian Oland: What did you think of Hiller’s mask by the way with you on there? What did you think of your portrait?
Andrew Gordon: ::laughs:: Oh man, I don’t know. That’s more stache’ growth than I’ll probably have for my whole life! It was pretty cool. He first brought the mask in when we were in Minnesota. Everyone got a good laugh out of it. It was pretty creative. He did a great job on it that’s for sure!
Ian Oland: So big question. What were your feelings when you made Anaheim out of camp? Last year with the Caps, you were one of the final cuts, one of the final three not to make the team.
Andrew Gordon: I mentioned this to someone earlier in the day. It wasn’t like one day the coaches called me into the office and said ‘congratulations.’ Just no one told me I wasn’t on the team. It was a no news is good news kind of thing. So as long as they haven’t talked to you, then they can’t really be too upset by the way you’ve been playing. That’s been the case for me so far. I don’t know — whenever you’re a rookie or a guy that’s constantly on the bubble — nothing’s guaranteed. You have to earn every practice. You have to earn every game. You have to earn every minute you get out there. So for me, it’s not like I made the team yet. It’s a 365 day tryout I’m on now. I gotta make sure I bring my ‘A’ game every day, and unfortunately I don’t know if today was it.
Ian Oland: We talked about this earlier, so you know what should be coming. Tell me something great about Teemu Selanne.
Andrew Gordon: What’s NOT great about Teemu Selanne would be the better question. Growing up he was my favorite player. In fact, there’s still some of my old posters of him up at my parents’ house that I see when I come home for the summers. My dad’s from Winnipeg, so I used to watch [the Jets] religiously all the time. He turns out to be one of the best guys in the game. You find that nobody in the world has a bad thing to say about Teemu Selanne. I think his character and personality is what brings him above all the other superstars. You know, if you look, and there’s an article written about him, you’ll look and see the comments below and they’ll say, ‘I hate the Ducks, but I love Teemu Selanne.’ Nobody has anything bad to say about the guy. He’s a guy that gives back to the community. He welcomes young guys. He’s really the face of this franchise. He’d probably be the face of the NHL if he was a little bit younger. The personality behind this great player and this great skill set is something that stands out to me and makes him above the rest. He’s an unbelievable guy and I’m really fortunate to play with him.
Ian Oland: Awesome. Well good luck with the facial hair. It was obviously very nice catching up with you.