David Walker had some big news Tuesday — news that could affect the captain’s decision whether or not to return for an eighth season of pro hockey.
Still, Walker wouldn’t say which way he was leaning on the retirement question, although hockey might seem like a trivial pursuit rather soon (keep reading…). For the record, he finished with five goals, 38 points, a minus-18 rating and 106 penalty minutes in 69 games. The 69 games-played stat might be the most impressive, considering he injured his thumb in a fight on opening day and wasn’t the same all season.
Knowing that Walker will have plenty more to say in a month, when he expects to decide on his future, we kept it short:
Where are you at now, as far as your plans?
Same old, same old. Still have no idea. I could go either way. There’s one way I’m leaning toward more than the other, but I won’t know or say anything until the end of April. That’s the timeframe I’m looking at.
Because of the surgeries?
Because of the surgeries, and there’s a few other little things that are going to take place. I’m waiting, giving it a month.
Can you say what those few other big deals are?
They’re family issues. Just basically it comes down to looking at what’s best for me and my wife, and now my wife’s pregnant, so there’s more than just thinking about her and I. It’s thinking about what’s best for the three of us, the four of us with the dog. That’s the big thing. I’m going to give it to the end of the month, look at everything, make a decision. I’m not going to wait until July or August to decide, it’ll be something that’s decided early rather than later.
How do you evaluate the season?
Obviously we didn’t make the playoffs, so it’s a failure. You don’t start training camp just thinking you’ll have a good year. Everyone starts training camp saying let’s win a championship, make playoffs. If you don’t make playoffs, you can’t set out to achieve the goal you set at the beginning of the year, and that’s to win a championship. So from that standpoint, it was a failure. We didn’t get it done. But on another note, we pushed. We didn’t give up. There was plenty of times during the year with adversity that we could’ve packed in tents and went away. But we didn’t. We fought to the bitter end. Too little, too late, the push we made was a little too late in the season. Maybe if we made that push earlier things would’ve been different. We got what we deserved based on how bad we played at the beginning of th year. 72-game season, the guys who are returning need to realize that Game 1 is just as important as Game 72.
Talk about your player/coach role and what you got out of that.
I didn’t think that role was going to be a completely different role than the past. A large part of that role was just Karl allowing me to be in on meetings, and maybe using me a little bit more as a sounding board than I have been in the past. I learned a lot of little things and how to – you could say I got a lot of first-hand accounts of what happens, and the stress that comes with the job. The time, the hours that comes with having to put in. So I learned a lot of little things. A lot of the things you probably don’t learn unless you’re put into it. I got to see those kind of things. It was a good learning experience. I wish I could have learned a little more when we got into the playoffs, but we didn’t make it so it’s kind of a bummer.