Jack Hillen: An Important Piece in the Caps’ Puzzle

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Posted January 15, 2015

Jack Hillen (Caps Outsider)

The great Vince Lombardi, legendary head coach and general manger of the Green Bay Packers, once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”  It seems that Coach Barry Trotz truly subscribes to that philosophy and has gotten his players to buy into it.  Recently, fans have seen the Caps firing on all cylinders and have seen tremendous individual efforts by guys not considered high profile players.  Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr certainly come to mind when reviewing the Caps’ recent successes, but what about the guys spending most of their time on the bench waiting for their chance to shine?

One player who has been working hard and waiting patiently is Jack Hillen.  The 28-year-old defenseman began his NHL career with Coach Trotz and the Nashville Predators as a free agent in 2011.  In 2012, as a free agent for a consecutive year, he signed with the Caps.  He suffered an injury in his very first game with the Caps, and has been plagued with injuries ever since.  Caps fans can recall a devastating hit by the Calgary Flames’ Lance Bouma on Oct. 3 2013 that rammed Hillen into the boards.  Fans held their breath as he was helped off the ice obviously in excruciating pain.  Surgery to repair his tibial plateau was successful; however, his bad luck would continue.  When he finally came back at the end of that season, he accidentally collided with Alex Ovechkin and was knocked unconscious.  But all of these unfortunate injuries haven’t dampened Hillen’s spirit.  Back in the lineup, he has been working hard to overcome his past injuries and play more minutes.

At a recent post game press conference (1-4-2015, Caps vs. Cats), Coach Trotz talked about Hillen with respect and confidence.

“He has a tremendous work ethic.  He works hard and the guys on the team see that.  If he had scored today on his breakaway, there would’ve been a lot of guys on that bench that would have been really happy for him.”

And that’s the epitome of “an individual commitment to a group effort.”  Hillen is not the first name on the lips of commentators, his jersey is not flying off the shelves, and he doesn’t have millions of dollars in endorsements but he is an important, integral part of the team.

“Guys are starting to recognize that there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” Trotz continued.  “Everyone has their role.  It’s not about one or two high profile players.”

Looks like the pieces of the puzzle are coming together and everyone is contributing.  The Caps have earned at least one point in 18 of their last 19 games.  They are in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division, 5th place in the Eastern Conference and 9th place in the NHL.

Let’s Go Caps!