Explore Washington D.C.

Breaking the Ice with D.C. Hockey Pro John Carlson

The Washington Capitals defenseman on his proudest moment, why he loves D.C. and where he likes to chill out

Born in Massachusetts and raised in New Jersey, Carlson’s been with the Washington Capitals since 2009. Only 25, this hard-working player known for putting in extra on-ice practice time is already a top defenseman. In 2014, he competed at the Sochi Olympics, scoring Team USA’s first goal. He’s also a dedicated family man who enjoys exploring his adopted city with his wife and looks forward to sharing the sites with his son, now 7 months old.

Did you always want to be a pro hockey player?

Yes, since I started playing when I was around 3 or 4 years old. My dad played in college and introduced me to the game. He taught me all the basics. 

What are your “goals” for this season?

To win the Stanley Cup with the Capitals. That’s my main goal every season. We all work hard throughout the entire year to hoist the cup at the end. I’ve dreamed about it since childhood.

Who inspires you, professionally or personally?

My wife and son, in everything I do. Your whole world changes for the better when you get married, and again when you have a child. They are my foundation in life, and the love and support they provide is so important to me. 

What’s been your proudest moment on the ice?

My first NHL game, because I’d worked so hard throughout my life to reach that point. I’ll never forget the feeling.

Do you have any pre-game rituals?

We have a morning skate at Kettler [Capitals Iceplex, the team’s training facility]. As a pre-game meal, I usually stick to chicken and pasta or tuna and rice. Sometimes I take a nap or play with my son at home before heading to Verizon Center.

What’s your favorite sport to watch?

I love watching football. It’s always fun to get to a Redskins game and support them.  

Some players leave D.C. in the off-season, but you stick around. Why?

Because I love D.C. Everyone here has been very friendly, and it’s nice to be surrounded by so much history. It’s a great place for my son to grow up in, because it offers so many learning opportunities and unique experiences. He’s just a baby now, but I can’t wait to take him places like the National Zoo and the American History Museum when he’s older.

You’re known for dressing well. Where do you like to shop in the D.C. area?

At Suitsupply and Bloomingdale’s. They always have a lot of great options.

When you travel, what are your must-take items?

For the plane, my iPad and a book. Those make the time go by fast. Lately, I’ve been watching “Peaky Blinders,” and I’m big on reading biographies. Nearly anything nonfiction interests me.

If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would that be?

On the beach, because I love relaxing by the water. My favorite vacation destination is the Caribbean, but while my son is young, I plan to stay in the States. My family is in New Jersey, so we like to get together there during the summer and travel to different beaches. My wife’s family has a home in Ocean City, Maryland, so we spend time there as well.

Check out more of Carlson’s favorite D.C. spots