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‘Easy-Going, Dog-Loving Guy’: Kuemper Letting Good Times Roll With Capitals

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Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper

ARLINGTON, V.A. — Who is Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper?

As I ask him to describe himself in one sentence, he laughs, thinking about it for a second. Then, with a grin, he shrugs.

“Pretty laid-back guy. Easy going. Dog-loving guy. Just like hanging with my dog. Chilling,” he decides.

That’s been Kuemper’s mantra over the course of his life. And on the ice, that attitude has made him one of the most consistent goaltenders in the league and ultimately, a Stanley Cup champion.

Kuemper fell in love with the game the same way several kids from Canada did. Born and raised in Saskatoon, Kuemper watched his dad, a police officer, play hockey and immediately wanted to follow suit. He fell into the goalie position by coincidence, and it ultimately worked out.

“As soon as I was old enough, I was on skates… we had a set of gear that our team had, and we took turns with it,” Kuemper said. “Whenever it was my turn to be goalie for games, I liked it. Just kind of stuck with it.”

It hasn’t always been an easy road, though. Kuemper has ridden the “highs and lows” that come with the role of a netminder. Over the course of his career, it’s gotten easier, especially given his consistency over time.

“[You have] the chance to go out there and [make] a difference every overnight. You just learn to deal with them over time,” Kuemper explained. “The more experience you get. You know, the sun comes up in the morning. You just got to try to stay as even-keel as possible.”

READ MORE ON WHN: Kuemper, Lindgren Discuss Fast Friendship, Building ‘Bromance’ With Washington Capitals

Rising through the ranks, Kuemper found himself drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL Draft. From the get-go, he showed consistency and poise in the net, and after a few standout years with the Arizona Coyotes, he ended up making quite the statement with the Colorado Avalanche in 2021-22. There, he showed the league what he can do with a .921 save percentage and 37 wins in 57 games. Then, he led the way as the Avalanche hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2022.

Following his standout year, Kuemper hit free agency as Colorado brought in Alexandar Georgiev to team up with Pavel Francouz. Considering he leads all netminders with at least 150GP over the last five years with a .921 SV%, Kuemper was one of the most highly-coveted names on the market. But once he heard Washington was interested, he was set on signing in D.C. And once the market opened at 12 p.m. on July 13, he inked a five-year, $26.25 million deal to make his way to the District.

“I just heard great things about the organization. The biggest thing for me was it’s a team that’s won recently,” Kuemper said. Has a lot of those pieces that know what it takes to win and the team that I think can win it. That’s what I want to do.”

Kuemper has been acclimating well to life in D.C., scouting out the local pizza places and getting tips from his teammates. He, his wife and dog, Rogue, took a road trip down from Saskatoon to the DMV and also bought a house.

“He’s great in the car, which is surprising because as soon as he gets out of it, he can’t relax,” Kuemper said of the road trip, where they let Rogue out at multiple rest stops to get his feet moving. “He just falls asleep right away [in the car], which is nice.”

RELATED: Kuemper, Washington Capitals Have A Blast, Play With Puppies At Caps Canine Shoot

Overall though, his calm and collected personality also carries over off the ice, as he likes to take it easy. He’s a fan of history and also has a variety of TV shows that he goes through — he just finished Cobra Kai — and he also spends his spare time reading the Game of Thrones series and other fiction and non-fiction books. He admits that he’ll find himself scrolling through social media at times but has tried to cut back. (Editor’s Note: He’s not responsible for Rogue’s Instagram, @rogie_perogie_)

“It’s entertaining. I don’t like when I catch myself spending hours a day on it,” Kuemper admitted. “I try to stay off as best I can so I’m enjoying other things in life rather than just staring at my phone. But at night, it’s a good way to connect with people, especially through long distance.”

So far, he’s having a great time adjusting to the team culture, too. He enjoys facing those Alex Ovechkin shots in practice, saying it helps his game, and working with goaltending coach Scott Murray and Lindgren, he finds himself having the time of his life.

In the end, Kuemper said he’s not focused on his individual accolades in the District. He has one goal in mind: to hoist the Cup again.

“I don’t think about my personal standing on a list or anything,” Kuemper said. “For me, it’s just about coming in and playing and winning as many games as possible and trying to help the team win a Stanley Cup.”

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