For forward Aucoin, timing is everything
Son makes playoff run more special
Born Feb. 29, Brayden Michael Aucoin won’t remember his first few months. But the son of Keith and Maureen will have an unbeatable story to tell one day.
“When my son’s older, he knows he was born when I was in the NHL,” beaming father Keith Aucoin said.
What had been an impressive minor league season for Aucoin has turned into a miraculous tale of not only his surprising ascent to Washington Capitals regular but his impeccable timing. Aucoin obviously knew for a while that his family would be growing, but months ago the journeyman forward couldn’t have predicted being a part of an NHL playoff run.
“You try not to think about it. You try to just play. But you know you’re getting old and you want to get another chance,” Aucoin, 33, said. “I finally got the call, and I’m taking advantage of it.”
Aucoin has spent much of his pro career in the American Hockey League, putting up numbers that likely will get him into that league’s Hall of Fame once he retires.
He is more than a point-a-game player at that level, spending the past four years filling the stat sheet for the Hershey Bears, the Caps’ top affiliate.
But Aucoin hasn’t been able to make his cups of coffee in the NHL last very long. Wednesday was his 90th NHL game in a career featuring Caps and Carolina Hurricanes cameos, and his first with three points.
One thing seems certain going into Washington’s final 12 games of the regular season: Aucoin isn’t going anywhere. That’s a relief for a guy who put a lot of miles on his Chevy Tahoe in recent months making the trip back and forth from Hershey and he talked about how Maureen and their French bulldog, CAPITALS AT WINNIPEG Friday: TV: Radio: bigger than his size.
“We all know he’s not a big guy. But he’s smart player,” Caps coach Dale Hunter said. “He’s a real good playmaker. He sees the ice well and creates a lot for us.”
Aucoin is an offensive specialist, to say the least, and he might be a key cog on the Caps’ power play down the stretch, too.
He was part of a Hershey unit that clicked at a rate of roughly 30 percent, thanks in large part to Aucoin’s ability to create space and find teammates.
“He used to play power play in the American League for his whole life and he’s one of the best at it in that league. He’s probably the best at it,” center Mathieu Perreault said. “He knows what he’s doing out there, and you can see it the past few games on the power play.”
Aucoin knows what he’s doing in the offensive zone no matter the situation.
On the fourth line with the likes of Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward and Mike Knuble, Aucoin is a whiz at protecting the puck along the boards and not turning it over. Put him out there with Alex Ovechkin and other skilled players and he can thread a perfect pass to set up a scoring chance.
More than a few around the Caps mentioned that Aucoin uses a long stick for a player of his stature, which
DALLAS | John Wall will not be traded Thursday. But the fate of every other player in a Washington Wizards uniform is anyone’s guess.
Thursday is the NBA trading deadline, a day when many teams will drastically or subtly alter their rosters in an effort to make a playoff push, build for the future or simply dump salary.
The Wizards players whose names have been mentioned in trade talks know who they are, and each is handling the unknown outcome in his own way.
Trevor Booker, 24, is a player in demand. Generously listed at 6-foot-8, he’s a defensive stopper who can score when needed, play small or power forward, and guard a 7-foot center without a second thought. Booker handles the impending trade deadline by not thinking — or talking — about it.
“We just worry about playing basketball,” Booker said. “We can’t worry about [being traded] and let it affect our game. We just have to keep going out and getting better. I’m not sure what other people, my teammates, are thinking [but] we’re not talking about it.”
For Andray Blatche, it’s a slightly different scenario. The Wizards are seeking to trade the 6-foot-11 forward, but league sources indicate not many teams are interested. Blatche, 25, hasn’t lived up to expectations since signing a contract extension two years ago, and he hears the disappointment in the boos from hometown fans.
“It’s a business,” Blatche said of the possibility of being traded. “That’s something I’m not stressed about or losing sleep over. I’ve been here for seven years. I know that comes with the job. If a trade was to happen for anybody on this team, everybody knows not to take it personal, just go to the next team and work hard.”
Asked where he expected to be Thursday, Blatche laughed, looked over at guard Nick Young and asked, “Where will we be Thursday? New Orleans? That’s where I’ll be until I find out anything else.”
Young, 26, is also the subject of trade rumors. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard isn’t overly versatile, and he won’t make an NBA All-defensive Team anytime soon. But when his shot is falling, he can score 25 points a night without breaking a sweat. Young broke into his signature wide-eyed grin when asked where he expects to be Thursday.
“I’ll wake up, right? I’ll be in my hotel and watching some TV. In New Orleans. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s crazy,” Young said. “I’ve been cracking jokes with everybody because it happened last year. I joked that this year, somebody’s going to be gone by halftime. I’ve seen it all.”
Last year, the Wizards traded Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong for Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and Mike Bibby during halftime of a game Feb. 23.
Only Wall has been deemed by the Wizards as untouchable in the frenzied trade market.
“You never know what’s going on, that’s the tough part about it,” Wall said. “I think certain guys are worried, nervous about it. It’s something you have to deal with and just move forward. If somebody new comes in, you just got to keep the chemistry.”
Asked if he would prefer to have a few new teammates by Thursday, Wall, as expected of a point guard and leader, gave the appropriately diplomatic response.
“You enjoy playing with the teammates you have, and you know it’s a part of the business,” he said. “You don’t want to see people go, but you know it might be the best situation for you and your organization.”