Rangers' Chris Kreider, Captials' Tom Wilson able to keep hockey and friendship separate

Published February 23, 2022 at 6:08 PM

It's the age-old debate: Can NHLers be friends with opposing players in season or not? Can they put their relationships on hold as soon as the puck drops? According to New York Ranger Chris Kreider, it comes down to a person's ability to compartmentalize and be professional when the puck drops.

Kreider was spotted having a friendly conversation with Washington Capitals' tough guy Tom Wilson. Wilson, who is virtually hated by every fan base except his own, has drawn the ire of the blue shirt faithful for a slew of things, most notably trying to injure star forward Artemi Panarin by throwing him to the ice last season after Panarin had lost his helmet. To Kreider, it's about being able to flip a switch.

"There's a respect and a professionalism away from the game; I think everyone understands that... the minute the puck drops, things change dramatically."

As Kreider continued to elaborate, he noted that it's tough not to get to know most players around the league on a personal level.

"I feel like I've played with one or two guys on every team"

When it comes time for the puck to drop, Kreider is as battle-ready as anyone.

"The minute the puck is dropped, the only friends out there are the guys wearing the same jersey as you. I think that's what being a pro is all about is being able to respect one another and being able to converse away from the ice but obviously doing your job and battling incredibly hard and being competitive when you're playing that game."

I have to admit, as a person, I understand his sentiment. You build personal and professional relationships with everyone, and then they get traded or choose to sign elsewhere, which is the cost of doing business in the NHL.
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