Sylvain_Cote_4 asks: I am a fan who enjoys the Caps and your coaching. My question is : what do you think are the Caps chances in the playoffs this year??
Ron Wilson: I think the Capitals' chances will hinge on how healthy we are, how are goaltending is. I think how we finish the season will be a factor. If we finish strong, we'll do well in the playoffs.
The Eagle asks: Which teams do you see as threat to the USA in Nagano. Is team Finland one of them?
Ron Wilson: Well, yes, Team Finland is one of them. A number of teams can win. Canada's strong, Sweden's good. Russia, although there are qestions about the team, will do well. Don't discount the Czech Republic, because of Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek. And the U.S. is pretty good, too.
USA98GOLD asks: Now that Brian Leetch has found his game again, is it safe to say he will once again wear the captain's C in Nagano. Good luck, coach.
Ron Wilson: Well, thanks. With regards to our captains, that'll be a staff decision, including Lou Lamoriello. We'll probably decide that on our flight to Nagano. We're really happy that our players are healthy and -- knock on wood -- playing really well right now.
H-Man asks: (Regarding the Capitals) I understand your theory of having a skilled team instead of a tough grinding team, but do you feel that when you have small skilled fowards you should have a tough physical defense to back them up?
Ron Wilson: You want a combination of both skill and size. A mix of those physical capabilities is what you want to have. We're really close to that in Washington right now. When we're healthy, we're pretty formidable with our skill and our toughness.
Dave Warstler asks: During NHL broadcasts, CBC has been airing commercials very demeaning to the USA Olympic Team. Have you seen them and will you use them as an extra motivational tool vs. Canada?
Ron Wilson: Actually, I think they're quite funny. It shows how important hockey is to Canada, especially the Olympics. As much as they're making fun of us, they're adding pressure to their own team. And to have it be us instead of Russia -- that's a sign of respect.
GOCAPS_w3kn asks: Will it be difficult to be going against some of your own players in the Olympics?
Ron Wilson: I think naturally it'll be difficult from a physical point of view. You hope your players, or any player, won't get injured. But I won't hold back in telling a USA player how to score on Olaf Kolzig, or how to get by Peter Bondra. We're there to win a gold medal, and will go all out to do it.
FrankS asks: Do you anticipate a physicial game in Nagano?
Ron Wilson: I expect the games to be very intense, but sometimes it's very difficult to be physical on a bigger ice surface. It will be more difficult to finish up the checks along the boards. I don't expect it to be as physical as the World Cup, but the same intensity will be there.
Jenny asks: Are you planning to begin dividing playing time basically evenly between Kolzig and Ranford, similar to Philly's use of Hextall and Snow?
Ron Wilson: That all depends on the situation. I think it's very difficult to split games equally between two goaltenders. I would prefer, over the last two months of the season, to give one goalie one third of the remaining games. I'm lucky that I've got two good goaltenders. Kolzig is one of the better goaltenders in the league. I think it's more fair to go with one guy when you're getting closer to the playoffs.
Nathan67 asks: Ron, what kind of system are you going to use in the Olympics?
Ron Wilson: Everybody nowadays is concerned about systems, but we need to look at talent. All of our players are skilled enough to know what they're doing. I don't want to hinder any of their creativity. I think you're going to see a very aggressive approach. I'd like to use our speed and size on the wings, and I'd like to see defensemen up on the plays. I don't want to label anything a trap or a left-wing lock or a 2-1-2.
FastEddie Borsuk asks: Hi, Ron. Coaching an Olympic Team surely is an honor and a challenge. How will coaching this years team, with the pros and all, be different from the typical Olympic teams of the past?
Ron Wilson: In the past, the teams were organized in August after a training camp in the summer, and then the team spent the next six months preparing with exhibition games. They would play NHL teams, minor league teams....This is different in that we only have three 3-hour practices before our first game. However, we're dealing with some of the best athletes in the world. I'm not knocking any of the previous teams, but this is the best hockey tournament ever put together.
GOCAPS_w3kn asks: How difficult has it been working for the Capitals but also preparing for the Olympics?
Ron Wilson: A lot of people have talked about how difficult it is, but I've compartmentalized things. My focus has been 100 percent with the Captials, and that'll swing 100 percent to the Olympics starting February 8th. A lot of other people have done much of the leg-work, the things coaches don't really have to worry about. My job is just to go with the same type of system we had last year. I've got to keep the players motivated and stay out of their way.
Haak asks: Have you given any thought to what the lines might shape up to be?
Ron Wilson: Uh, yes -- but I'm not going to tell anybody what the lines are, except that they'll will be similar to what we used at the World Cup. One difference we already know about is that we have Jeremy Roenick instead of Brian Smolinski.
Owen Maine asks: Will the (Portland) Pirates get Andrew Brunette back this year?
Ron Wilson: Ha, ha....Portland will get Brunette back in the summertime, when he goes back to pick up his luggage and clean out his apartment. Along with Paul Kariya, he was at the top of the League in scoring in January (Note: Kariya was 10-8-18, while Brunette was 9-8-17). In my opinion, he deserves to be up with the Washington Capitals.
Thank you for the questions.
Tag(s): 1998 - Nagano, Japan