When defenseman Garrett Haar first arrived at Capitals development camp two summers ago he opened some eyes with his quick release, slick passing and ability to defend.
“I thought Haar was the biggest surprise of the camp,” Capitals general manager George McPhee told reporters after that 2011 camp. “For a young man that was four picks away from not being drafted, he really played well here.”
Back then, Haar was happy to be part of the Capitals organization, taken with the 207th pick of the 2011 draft.
Today, he remains on the Caps’ radar, although perhaps not as prominently as two years ago.
After sitting out eight weeks last season with a back injury, Haar learned earlier this month that will be academically ineligible to play for Western Michigan this fall.
To his credit, he is blaming no one but himself.
“I didn’t really live up to the Bronco standard and take care of my academics very well,” said Haar, who is attending his third Capitals development camp, which concludes Saturday at Kettler with a 10 a.m. scrimmage and day-long FanFest.
“I’m not going to make any excuses. I didn’t really realize the consequences that were going to come with it. Now I’m facing them. It sucks, but it’s a situation I’m going to have to live with and make improvements.”
Born in Huntington Beach, Calif., Haar impressed the Capitals in his final season in the USHL when he recorded seven goals and 16 assists in 51 games for the Fargo Force. The Caps wanted his development to continue at the collegiate level and he earned a spot at Western Michigan for the start of the 2011-12 season.
Haar, listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, had a solid freshman season and was hoping to make a bigger impact last season, but a back injury sidelined him for eight weeks and he finished the year with just three goals and six assists in 22 games.
With the graduation of defenseman Luke Witkowski and the signing of defeneman Danny DeKeyser by the Detroit Red Wings, Haar was expected to play a big role on the Broncos this season.
But when his grade-point average fell below Western Michigan’s academic standards he was ruled ineligible to play until after Christmas. Haar said he has been attending classes all summer and vows to do well enough to be playing by Christmas.
“My school has shown nothing but support for me,” he said. “They’re always going to be there for me. They’re honestly a little bit worried about me. but I did well in my first two summer classes and things are starting to get back on track right now.”
Harr will be permitted to practice with the Broncos but will not make any of the team’s road trip. Western Michigan’s schedule begins on Nov. 1.
“I’m going to be getting my butt kicked by our trainer, so he’s not going to be taking it easy on me,” Haar said.
“It’s not a situation I want to be in. My team was going to really rely on me this year and I really let them down. It’s not good timing and it’s not going to be easy on us, but I’m sure our D corps will do a good job.”