ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway looks out at the rink, eyes wide as he reflects on his career. He admits that he didn’t know he was going to play pro hockey, and only found that out when he signed his first contract.
Hathaway’s love for the game started around the age of three. He tagged along with his mom to sign his older brother, Ephraim, up for hockey. That’s when the rink asked if Hathaway also wanted to join.
“They asked if my mom wanted to sign me up, and she was like, ‘isn’t he way too young?’ And they said, ‘no,'” Hathaway smiled. “So next thing I knew, I was playing hockey.”
The Kennebunkport, Maine native grew up working at his family’s seafood restaurant. Every day after school, Hathaway made time to go play hockey, whether it be on the pond or the backyard rink his friend’s dad built. He also played hockey at home with his brother, where they would alternate as goalie and forward and shoot on each other with a tennis ball.
Growing up, though, it wasn’t clear from the start that his career would lead him to the ice. In addition to hockey, Hathaway played soccer and baseball, and also ran track and cross-country. He also followed the Capitals closely, as his uncle used to work for Ted Leonsis. Hathaway laced ’em up for all four years at Phillips Academy Andover, a college-prep school in Massachusetts, which ultimately led him to Brown University.
“I just wanted to be on the ice as much as possible, especially in the winter,” Hathaway said. “I mean, I played every sport I could, I didn’t know I was going to play only hockey until after high school. I’m glad I did.”
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During his time in the Ivy League, Hathaway made his impact on and off the ice; he operated and owned a lobster cart with teammate Mike Juola and also studied business, while also becoming a key member of the Brown Bears team. He was an alternate captain in his junior and senior years and finished his NCAA career with 20 goals, 58 points and 178 PIM through 121 games.
His success in college led him to the pros, where he signed with the Calgary Flames as an undrafted free agent.
“I didn’t know I was going to turn pro until I signed my contract in college,” Hathaway explained. “It was a step closer towards my dream. I always wanted to play in the NHL. I didn’t know I would, but I always wanted to, I always dreamt of it. It was just one step closer to fulfilling that.”
Hathaway spent four years with the Flames organization, forming his game and becoming a prominent physical presence. He dished 16 goals and 40 points, while also throwing a whopping 460 hits through 175 total games up with Calgary.
“I know definitely [he was] one of those guys where I didn’t enjoy playing against him. He pissed me off, he was annoying,” Nic Dowd, who used to play against Hathaway in the West before becoming close friends and linemates with him in D.C., recalled with a grin.
Hathaway’s gritty playing style and ability at both ends of the ice led him to Washington, where he inked a four-year deal in the 2019 offseason. He admitted that it was a bit nerve-wracking coming into the organization, but once he arrived in the District, he felt at home.
“It’s just such a successful organization. It’s nervous to come into a team that was so close-knit, such a high winning percentage in the last 5-10 years,” Hathaway noted. “i had heard good stories about the organization, about the room. And every bit of it was true. Just an unbelievable group of guys that are so welcoming. and bring guys in and want guys to be successful as much as they want to be successful. It’s a great room to succeed, to be your best on the ice and really off the ice, too.”
With the Capitals, Hathaway has been able to expand on his skill set, especially under head coach Peter Laviolette. Not only is he still playing his hard-hitting style, but he’s finding ways to produce as well. Hathaway has five assists in his last six games and has been outstanding when it comes to driving pressure on the forecheck, especially on that checking line with Dowd and Carl Hagelin. His recent success also earned him a promotion to the top line to skate with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.
“[He brings] a lot,” forward Nicklas Backstrom said of No. 21. “He’s been producing a lot this year, scoring a lot of goals. I think what he brings to the lineup every night: his energy. He’s physical. I mean, he can play both ways. With the PK, big numbers there. Overall, he’s a pretty all-around player. And all of those guys are so important for our team. It’s been great.”
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Off the ice, Hathaway also gives back to the community and works to help first responders through “Hath’s Heroes,” an organization he launched during his time with Washington.
Through 30 games this season, Hathaway has seven goals and 12 points and is on pace to hit a career-high in goals (18) and points (30). He also ranks fifth overall in hits.
“Consistency is, I think, the biggest to the team because we get to see it in his games and his direction in games through his consistency,” defenseman John Carlson added. “He’s a guy who comes in every day and works really hard… it’s great to have him on your team or against to kind of spice things up and push the pace more than maybe you would against another guy. He’s just one of those guys [who’s] high-octane all the time. I think he’s done a lot of great things on the ice for our team this year and certainly in a number of different ways.”
But, beyond the stat sheet, the 31-year-old is simply looking to continue playing his game, which includes killing penalties, generating pressure and most importantly, being a team player and leader.
“[He’s a] good individual. He’s a really good teammate,” Dowd said. “A guy who stands up for his teammates, and he plays hard. That’s why we like him… I think anybody in the league would take him on their team. It’s his job, and he does it well.”