"A bunch of us were sitting around the locker room the other day and it came up how, with everything going on in the world, we’re so lucky just to be working,” said the 34-year old defenseman. “I hope people don’t think we take that for granted. We’re lucky to have jobs, and then to have a job in something you love to do…well, we’re really fortunate."
There is a reason many Islanders fans -- and many Caps fans, it seems -- still love Brendan Witt, even when he's having a very rough year that's thrown his ability to fit the team scheme in doubt. Chris Botta has many more quotes from Witt like the one above, covering his desire to stay on Long Island and his frank acceptance of the business side of hockey -- whether he stays or is moved at this year's NHL trade deadline.
It's been a wild ride for Witt, who was selected by Washington with one of the five "Stevens" 1st-round picks the Blues gave up for signing Scott Stevens away to a then-whopper offer sheet. Witt saw the Capitals' lone Cup finals appearance and not a whole lot else memorable in D.C. His own desire to restart meant he missed the Capitals' rebirth, but if he has trouble with Scott Gordon's system, it's debatable whether he'd fit the Capitals' squad today anyway.
Witt has two years left on his contract at $3 million annually thanks to an extension he signed last summer -- when he promptly went on radio and expressed heartfelt appreciation for the fans' and team's commitment to him.
The word "warrior" is thrown around constantly by fans when discussing Witt, but in this case it's not cliche: You watch him constantly sacrifice his body for the play as if there is nothing else more important. Yet his activities outside of hockey reveal his appreciation that there is indeed a fantastic world beyond the rink. What's more, while he's surely done his share of trench work on defense that can look shady in isolation, he's rarely been associated with the kind of dirty play practiced as "part of the game" by many of his peers in similar roles.
Simply, he does honest work out there -- and even his questioning of Gordon's system this year was delivered, in my book, with constructive intent. With the Islanders, I think his play has leveled off and bounced back some from this season's lows, but there are still games where I really question whether it makes sense to keep him.
Ultimately, if Garth Snow is offered real value for him, his system fit has been too uncertain to turn it down. But if Witt is still around next season, I won't be disappointed even if his play does not continue to rebound. He is the kind of player who makes you appreciate far more about this game than goals, wins and losses -- no small attribute in times like these.
No matter what happens, he'll always be Witt, "the warrior."