capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Features

Capital Upgrade: Summer 2012 Edition

Photo courtesy of bhrome
courtesy of bhrome
Typically, the period between the NHL Awards night and Unrestricted Free Agent day – known to non-hockey fans as July 1 – can be one of tumult, surprise, or downright boredom. It’s when the front office of every team takes the spotlight, working last-minute contract deals, shuffling trades for salary cap space, and executing the yearly NHL Draft. Year to year, it can be hot, cold, or lukewarm for any organization.

This year, the Washington Capitals have been hot. How hot? Enough that I’ve had to morph this article from a NHL Draft day summary into one that encompasses several changes from the Caps’ front office over the last few days. And the initial prognosis – such as these can be in the off season – is that the Caps may have finally found the last pieces of their playoff enigma.

A fast recap: in the last week, we have 10 new draft selections, a new coach, a new second-line center, and sayonara to two players (with a third possibly on the horizon). Shall we dive into the changes? Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Features

Sports Extra: Capitals Hockey 2010-11 Season Preview

Photo courtesy of
‘All alone in the net’
courtesy of ‘bhrome’

Tomorrow is the start of the 2010-11 NHL regular season, pretty much the only sport that matters in my household. Around the DC area, the Washington Capitals are becoming – if not already – the number two sports franchise, and with good reason: unlike many of the other pro teams in the area, the Caps have been consistent winners the last several years.

Today’s date, actually, should probably be declared a local holiday. Why? Well, five years ago on October 5, some rookie with the number 8 on his sweater hit the Verizon Center ice in the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Forty seconds into the game, Alexander Ovechkin – the rookie in question – hit defenseman Radoslav Suchy so hard against the glass that one of the supports broke loose and hit the ice. A portent of things to come? If so, Ovechkin had two more signs to stamp his arrival to the NHL that night – his first two goals of his career, one of them a great one-timer from Jeff Halpern. At the end of that game, there was no doubt: Ovechkin – and the Capitals – had arrived at the next level.

It’s been an Ovechkin-fueled rocket ship ride for the Capitals since, with no sign of stopping.

Continue reading

Arlington, Fun & Games, Sports Fix

Capital Summer

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Slapshot at Game 7
Modified; originally uploaded by clydeorama

Now that the dust has (partially) settled, let’s look at the Capitals. Yes, that’s right, I said Capitals. Hockey in July.

Because the summer is when a team’s foundation is made.

First off, Brooks Laich and Shaone Morrisonn elected to take the team to arbitration. Nothing to get worked up over, just that Ted’s going to pay a bit more for their services if things proceed as normal. Laich wants about double of his current $725,000 salary.

Matt Cooke has gone north and signed with the Penguins. Not terribly surprising, after Matt Bradley signed his three-year extension back in May. Continue reading


Capital Frenzy

Photo courtesy of clydeorama

Wow, busy week across the NHL. Lots of moves with the July 1 Free Agent Turkey Shoot, and the Washington Capitals are right in the thick of it.

McPhee managed to re-sign Mike Green on Monday, June 30, effectively sealing up a potential weak spot and relieving many diehard Caps fans. So one less headache to worry over when Tuesday hit.

And hit it did.

Biggest news? Smoking-hot goaltender Christobal Huet bolted for more money and a suddenly very dangerous team in the Chicagoland area. Can’t blame the Blackhawks there – missing the playoffs by three points with an average goalie squad made any potential FA goalies legitimate targets.

Unfortunately, it forced McPhee to take a Vegas-sized risk by approaching – and signing – Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore for a more-than-modest two year deal worth $9M. BIG risk. HUGE. Now, if this was 2003, then it wouldn’t be a big deal (ok, maybe it would be, considering his lackluster play the next few years) – but despite his sudden transformation from mediocre back to the old Hart and Vezina winner with the ‘lanche last season, it really remains to be seen which Theodore the Caps got on this deal.

The goalie situation really is crucial to the Caps’ success in the next year. With Huet bolting for more lucrative waters and Kolzig “bolting” to Tampa (for what will probably be his final year or two of his career) as a mentor for the Lightning’s fresh-faced netminders, the play of Theodore is going to either sink or rocket Capital play. All the offense in the world isn’t going to matter if the goalie position is leakier than Montgomery County’s water lines.

There’s still more signings and moves to be had, for sure, as McPhee is still faced with UFAs Cooke, Fedorov, Bournedienne, Arsene, Riazantsev, Stana, Morgan and Werner. It will definitely be an interesting summer on ice.

Green Winds Up, courtesy of clydeorama