Hannan ramps up Capitals on-ice chatter

Hannan ramps up Capitals on-ice chatter
April 22, 2011, 6:56 pm
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Friday, April 22, 2011 3:07 p.m.
By Ben RabyCSNwashington.com

Bruce Boudreau spoke with a hoarse voice Friday, the result, he said, of a cold hes battling and unrelated to his barking out orders in the first four games of the Capitals' opening-round series.

Those vocal chords belonging to the man affectionately known as "Gabby" are pretty valuable for a Caps team looking to make a deep playoff run. It turns out, so, too, are Scott Hannans.

We know hes a big talker on the bench and on the ice, Boudreau said of his oldest defenseman to suit up this postseason.

Coaches love guys that can communicate on the ice. Not enough of them do. Some of them are just naturally quiet, but Scott is a real general type of guy out there.

It did not take the Capitals long, only one shift, according to Jeff Schultz, to pick up on the fact that Hannan constantly has advice for teammates on where they should be and what they should be doing.

The first minute hes on the ice, you can hear him, and I think thats great, because hes always telling you where to go, what to do with the puck, whos coming. And I dont think weve really had someone that talks that much on the ice, and you dont realize how much it does help.

Hannan jokes that he talks probably sometimes too much, and he adds that his on-ice chatter might be the only part of his game he developed from his mother.

But regardless of the origins of Hannans motor mouth, and he does in fact credit former teammates Bryan Marchment, Jeff Norton and Gary Suter for their communication skills in San Jose, the young crop of blue-liners in Washington is reaping the benefits.

He points things out to you that sometimes you dont notice or that you dont want to notice, said Karl Alzner, who is playing in his first full NHL playoff series and has often been paired against the Rangers' top line.

Something might happen out there and you might just shrug it off as a lucky play, but hell come back and say, Remember that play? Well, this is what you should do or maybe try this in that situation, and I think thats what you need. You need someone that keeps you honest, and hes that guy.

Hannan has been that guy since joining the Capitals in a Nov. 30 trade from Colorado for Tomas Fleischmann. He was brought to Washington to be that veteran shutdown defenseman this team had lacked in seasons past.

Four games into the Capitals series against the Rangers, Hannan is skating a team-high 25 minutes, 24 seconds per contest. Hes been on the ice for only one even-strength goal against and leads the Caps in shorthanded ice time in the series. The Capitals have killed 17 of 18 penalties.

Hes a steady player, Boudreau said. He knows how to play the game. Hes not a great offensive player or anything, but positionally, knowledge, calming effect, Scotts been super.

Hes not the flashiest player around and he wont wow you with big hits, but in a season when Tom Poti, Mike Green and Dennis Wideman all went down with injuries, Hannan has been a calming veteran fixture on the point. Hes also been described as an on-ice coach.

Its just been part of my game since I first started, Hannan said of his on-ice communication. I like to talk and chat, and I think it makes the game easier. I dont know if it calms me down or reaffirms in my mind what Im supposed to be doing out there, but its something thats just been entrenched in my game.

Hannan, 32, is the oldest Caps defenseman in the playoffs, and hes the Capitals' second most experienced postseason player behind only Jason Arnott. Hannans 77 career playoff games were 12 more than the combined total of the Caps' other five defensemen at the start of the first round.

Hannan also has appeared in the playoffs in six different seasons with the Sharks and Avalanche, and his teams advanced to at least the second round all but once.

Hes not a trash talker; hes a helpful talker, Boudreau said. Hes just out there positionally-wise pointing. Hell be a very good coach one day.
Ben Raby is a producer and reporter on the Washington Capitals Radio Network. He can be heard on The Morning Skate airing Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. on 106.7 The Fan.