This week’s interview is with Washington Galaxy RW Jefferson McNeely.
SHL Digest: This week, we’re here with the star of the Washington Galaxy, Jefferson McNeely. Jefferson, thanks for talking with us.
Jefferson McNeely: I never pass up an opportunity to talk! Let’s do it.
SHLD: The last time we interviewed you was four years ago, when you and the Galaxy were on the verge of clinching your second straight division title. Needless to say, it’s a different situation now.
JM: You mean that we’ve gone down the toilet?
SHLD: That’s not how we were going to put it.
JM: It’s okay, it’s true. The only thing we’re competing for now is the #1 draft pick.
SHLD: You’re a competitive guy, by all accounts. How does it feel to be on a team that’s struggling?
JM: I’m not gonna lie, it’s tough. Being in a playoff race, playing for those stakes, it gives you that extra juice. When you don’t have that, the grind starts to wear you down. It’s a long season, man.
SHLD: You’ve been in Washington since the beginning. One of your longtime teammates and friends was Casey Thurman, who was dealt to Boston earlier this year after expressing criticism of the crowd and the team’s direction. How did you feel about the trade?
JM: It was a bummer to see Thurm go, obviously, but I definitely wasn’t surprised. There’s no point keeping a Ferrari in the garage if all you’re going to do is driving it to the store. I don’t know if Boston has the horses to compete this year, but they’re moving in the right direction and getting Thurm is a huge plus for them.
SHLD: Did you have any qualms with the things he said?
JM: Absolutely not. Listen, if anyone around here has the standing to criticize how things are going, it’s him. He’s in the prime of his career, and he doesn’t have a ring. He shouldn’t have to spend the rest of his prime on a last-place team. He did what was right for him, and I have nothing but respect.
SHLD: A lot of the things you just said about your former teammate also apply to you. You’re a couple years older than him. Are you trying to hint that you’d wish you’d been moved at the deadline?
JM: No, not me. You forget, I was a free agent before the season and I chose to stay in DC. If I wanted out, I’d have gone somewhere else then.
SHLD: So what’s the difference between you and Thurman? How is it that you’re happy to stick around, while he had to go chase a title?
JM: I’m accustomed to DC. I like the city, and I like the fans. And, honestly, I’m used to being the star, and I like that too. Thurm is the kind of guy who would go be a bottom-line grinder somewhere if he could help that team win a title. I like to win, but I’m not a bottom-six guy, either. Different personalities.
SHLD: So if you get to the point where your skills start to slide and you’re not getting top-line minutes anymore, would you retire?
JM: Yeah, probably. Of course, easy for me to say that now. Let’s see what happens. I’ll probably be 39, 40 and still trying to hang on by my fingernails.
SHLD: So, what is it like working with a young Galaxy roster? Are you trying to serve as a mentor to the younger forwards?
JM: Yeah, absolutely. I think we’ve got a lot of good talent, and I’m trying to make sure they develop their skills and stay out of trouble. The coaches are focused on their on-ice skills, and I’m trying to work with them on the off-ice stuff. Where to go after the game, how to keep from going crazy on the road, the types of people to stay away from, things like that.
SHLD: Do you think you might be a coach someday?
JM: Might be. Who knows? Right now, I’m focused on playing, and I think I’ve got a few years left at least.
SHLD: Fair enough! That does it for this week’s interview. Thanks again, Jefferson, and good luck the rest of the season!
JM: Hopefully the next time I talk to you, it’s because we’re going to the Finals again.