Friday, June 16, 2006

Hershey Bears Gives DC Something To Look Foward To

Congratulations to the Hershey Bears on winning the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy by beating the Milwaukee Admirals in their own back yard. In a series that never saw a lead change, the Hershey Bears tied the Cleveland Barons for the most Calder Cups in the AHL (9 if you are counting).

And while the first game was a close 2-1 match, the rest of the series has been lopsided wins. Game six was no different as the Bears explode in the first period with 3 goals went ahead and won the Calder Cup in overwhelming fashion with a 5 goal win.

Comcast Sportsnet in Washington played the game late on tape-delay, but all I got was the first 7 minutes of the game before, for some unexplained reason, the channel was blacked out. It will be replayed again this afternoon (Fri. 6/16) at 3 pm.

Now this creates problems for the Washington Capitals. While this is good news for the Caps prospects, those players wishing to keep their jobs in a Caps sweater may have step aside. Rumors are already flying about who is on the chopping block, and who from Hershey will be in a Washington jersey for good next season.

With a confident core of prospect players and some key free agent pick ups, the Caps could improve on their up and down record of the ’05-’06 season. The AHL Championship is an important win for the Capitals, but it doesn’t mean the Caps are on the right road.

14 players on the Hershey squad have played in the big league. Only two have proven they are ready to play at the NHL level. Brooks Laich and Mike Green are two outstanding players that may be in a Caps sweater for good. But others have struggled. Jakub Klepis was not the outstanding playmaker the Caps had hoped for, Eric Fehr couldn’t get his goal scoring touch going, and Thomas Fleischmann was a -7 for 14 games. It could be say that it’s a long road ahead.

Now that the Bears safely have the Calder Cup at the Giant Center in Hershey, and the AHL season is laid to rest for another year, we will have to see what moves the Capitals make in the off season to build a team around Alex Ovechkin and Olaf Kolzig. Should be an interesting summer.

Congrats to Hershey, and thanks for giving the Capitals a sliver of hope.

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