Saturday, September 30, 2006

Caps Squeak Past Flyers

Capitals 1, Flyers 0

Kris Beech wrapped the puck around the net, Robert Esche was out of position, and the Flyers defense collapsed just enough for Beech to squirt the puck through. With 3:14 left in the game, Beech was the hero and the Caps improve their preseason record to 3-1-1. The Caps played a close scoreless game, and come out victors. This is a good sign that the Capitals are finding ways to win.

Compare that to a scoreless game last season, when the Caps were happy just to get the game into overtime. Now, they are putting the pressure on late in close games. Even before Beech’s game winner, the Caps were knocking on the door with good pressure on net, and using their speed for aggressive forechecks.

Brent Johnson grabs the shut out after a couple of spectacular stops. Every one were game saving saves. The defensive core looked faster and were able to use their speed to at the very least got them to the red line for quick dump-ins.

The Caps special teams were also something to watch. The ability to kill off a two minute, 5 on 3 was a turning point in the third period. While the penalty kill was impressive, the power play still looks a bit sloppy. The Caps are keeping the puck to the outside, which is good for puck control, but they have to find more movement to get the puck in to the slot for gold mine power play goals.

They certainly have the talent, now they need to execute. The Capitals do need to capitalize on their opportunities a little better. Even during some great attacks on net, the Caps sometimes will miss an open man with a better shot, or shoot it right into the goaltenders chest stopping play. As the chemistry grows for those on the power play, I expect to see some of those issues to clear up.

Capitals have a final preseason game against Carolina October 1st that will be a dress rehearsal for their home opener on the 7th. Caps will be facing a winless Carolina team in the preseason, so they must stay sharp.

In other news, Steve Konowalchuk’s career has been snubbed short by a disease that can lead to irregular heart rhythms. The former Capital, now Colorado Avalanche retired amid concerns of his health after tests showed positive for Long QT Syndrome. Konowalchuk made the decision in a written statement stating that family came first. I wish him the best, and will miss his seeing him on the ice.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Caps Blow Out Flyers

Capitals 6, Flyers 1

In a game that had just about everything, the Capitals finally pull together a blow out win where it was special teams that pulled through for them. The Caps were 3 of 10 in the power play column as well as being able to kill off a triple minor (that is right a triple minor given to Brian Sutherby, double minor for roughing and a minor for slashing).

Although Alex Ovechkin didn’t score, he did make his presence known. Ovechkin stood up for Jakub Klepis after he was boarded. It didn’t take Mike Richards long to pull Ovie aside and the two got into it. It was two second year players standing up for teammates by dropping the gloves.

This game featured a slew of fights (Ovie and Richardson, Matt Bradley and Derian Hatcher, Sutherby and Richardson) and even some big open ice clean hits. And the Caps proved that being aggressive can pay off. The Penalty kill was in the Flyers faces all night, not allowing much time for set-up. It was a change that was like night and day from the previous game for the Caps special teams.

Scoring goals for the Capitals were Jamie Heward (who returned to the ice after an off season surgery), Richard Zednik, Mike Green, Sutherby, Kris Beech and Bradley. Last year I talked about getting more goal support for Ovie. Tonight they got it, and in bulk.

Caps return to Ashburn Ice Center to finish out the rest of camp. The Caps will play the Flyers again at the Verizon Center on Friday. It should be interesting game if Donald Brashear is put back in the line up. Although retribution for a preseason game is rare, it’s not totally unheard of.

The Caps looked like a hockey team in this game, something that they really haven’t pulled together last year. But we have to see if the Capitals can learn the definition of consistency. If the Caps put this kind of effort in every game, I would be happy with whatever the result is.

Caps Live Via Web

Washington Capitals will face the Philadelphia Flyers in preseason exhibition tonight. Bummed that the game is not being televised? Never fear, is broadcasting the game via broadband off their website. However it is restricted to the Washington area only.

The Caps must work on their special teams, especially if they are planning on taking a few penalties (I guess the infractions are rubbing off on other Washington area Sports teams that start with the letter “R” and end with “edskins”). It’s not only their penalty kill that needs help, their power play needs to start scoring some points after the Devils killed all 8 of their penalties in the previous preseason game.

Richard Zednik looks to get some more ice time. Let’s hope that more ice time can turn in to offensive production, even though Zednik often looks out of position. Wash Post goes into details about the forwards return to D.C.

Around the NHL

  • Detroit Red Wings couldn’t let Steve Yzerman just leave. Even in retirement, he is too valuable. The Wings made him Vice President.

  • Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin won’t have surgery, but will be sitting out 4 to 6 weeks with a dislocated shoulder. Malkin will miss the season opener.

  • Brett Hull’s 16 will be raised to the rafters in St. Louis. Hull basically holds every offensive franchise record with the club, so it only makes sense for this to happen in Blues country.

Enjoy the game.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Kolzig's New Digs

A picture made me do a double take:

It's Olie Kolzig in some very fancy new pads. They look pretty good, except for the fact that Kolzig is still on the CCM site. And these were the pads he wore last season:

Not sure why Kolzig changed pads, but the new pads do look sharp. He has changed pad manufacturer before, he originally came into the league with Heaton pads. It just took me by surprise to see him in both Reebok gear, but still on CCM's site.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Caps Lose Again

Capitals 1, Devils 3

Marty Brodeur was a brick wall. Stopping all 13 shots he faced in a period and a half of work. The Caps could not kill a penalty to save their lives and once again, it’s special teams that do them in as they drop their third preseason game in a 3-1 loss to the Devils.

Ben Clymer was the single goal scorer for the Capitals with a late goal. The Devils were 2 for 5 on the powerplay, the Caps were 0 for 8. Even though the Caps were not in the penalty box much, it was all the Devils needed.

The Capitals out shot the Devils 34 to 18. It wasn’t the lack effort on behalf the Capitals. The roar of the crowd must have been deafening from a grand total of 3200 people that were in the crowd.

Caps will stay in Hershey for a few practices before facing off against the Flyers on Tuesday.

Date With The Devils

Caps face the Devils tonight in Hershey PA. You know where they make chocolate. Mmm, chocolate. The Capitals did some excessive traveling coming back to D.C. after the Pittsburg game only to bus it back to Hershey (not that its that big of a trip, but why not just stay in Hershey after the Pens game?). They will stay at the Giant Center for some practices after the New Jersey game where they will face the Flyers then travel back to Ashburn.

Tarik El-Bashir has a good article on Alex Semin in the Wash Post, who seems to be happy to be in black and bronze:

"I'm happy to be here, back in the NHL," the 22-year-old left wing said through
an interpreter yesterday. "I expect to play as well as I can, and improve as the
season goes on. I still don't feel at my best. My legs still feel a bit heavy.
But I'm getting there."

Semin may take the league by surprise with all the attention on the other Alex, Alex Ovechkin.

The Capitals also made some roster moves. Goaltender Frederic Cassivi, forwards Eric Fehr, Quintin Laing, Dave Steckel, and defensemen Timo Helbling, Lawrence Nycholat and Jamie Hunt were reassigned to the Bears leaving the roster at 29.

Maybe the biggest surprise in this move is Fehr who many suspected was his time to gain a roster spot or at least be a last minute cut before the season. But with acquisitions of Richard Zednik and the return of Semin, getting on the team seems to be a challenge.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

One And Done

It’s 11:26 on a Friday night. I click through the local stations 4, 7, and 9. I am hoping to see some Caps highlights from a pretty exciting come from behind overtime win only to be highly disappointed. Not only were there no Caps highlights from any of the major local stations, they didn’t even mention the team was even playing.

Granted, Friday night is a busy night in sports. Channel 9 couldn’t talk about anything other than High School football (Florida State Asst. Coaches were at the Dunbar game), channel 7 covered the Phillies game (huh?) and channel 4 just couldn’t be bothered. The Capitals take their place once again as an afterthought in local news fodder.

It’s preseason, I know, and it’s not like the game counted and it was probably not easy to get video from Pittsburgh. But when the Wizards start their preseason, watch for in-depth analysis, player interviews and roughly 5 minutes devoted to Gilbert Arenas’ rippling physique.

Face it, the Caps are just not that important in DC, even with the reigning Calder Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin. There are farmers in upper Alberta that have no television that are more into the Capitals than the local media in Washington. I know, I get hits on my blog from up there.

The only way to change all of that is to make the playoffs, and hockey gods willing, win a championship. Until then, I will just have to wait for opening night, to see the Caps get mentioned in the news again.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Caps Flip Fortune, Win In OT

Capitals 5, Penguins 4

It’s another preseason game that could not be decided in regulation. The Capitals take the Penguins into overtime. Instead of a loss, the Capitals win this one on a Matt Bradley goal at 2:59 in OT.

The Capitals gave this night to the prospects. No surprise, the Penguins did the same. No Alex Ovechkin, no Sid “the Kid” Crosby, no Evgeni Malkin. In fact on the Capitals side there were only two players with single digit numbers on their back, John Erskine (4) and Olaf Kolzig’s backup Brent Johnson (1).

It was not a pretty game. Special teams again caused the Caps fits. Allowing two power play goals, an even strength goal, and a shorthanded goal. It is clear the Caps need to button down both with and without an extra man. The Caps had to kill 14 penalties on the night including an interference call in OT.

Caps again couldn’t keep themselves out of the penalty box. Donald Brashear found himself unable to keep himself from being sent to sit next to the timekeeper 3 times in the third after being able to stay away from the box in the previous preseason game. Erskin couldn’t keep himself in good standing either with 4 PIMs.

It will be crucial that the Caps do not allow themselves get into bad situations by being in the penalty box all night. Brashear and Erskin may be the two that get the Caps in a hole that they may not get out of night after night.

Scoring goals for the Caps were Quintin Laing, Matt Pettinger (two straight games with goals), Bradley (game winner),Thomas Fleischmann and Jakub Klepis (who was the #1 star of this game). Players with assists were Boyd Gordon, Klepis (2), Steve Eminger (2), Mike Green, Brashear, Laing and Fleischmann.

Caps will face the Devils in a couple of days (Sept. 22nd to be exact). The game will be played at the Giant Center in Hershey. The Caps then return to DC after a preseason game against the Flyers on the 26th.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Caps Fall To Lightning In OT

Capitals 2, Lightning 3 F/OT

Special teams once again give the Caps fits even though they out-shot their opponents in pre-season play. Dan Boyle scored on a long shot 2:24 into overtime to cap a 3 goal comeback after trailing early 2-0. Caps showed promise by scoring the first goals early in the first and second periods, but it was the same old story from last year: Penalties are the chink in the Capitals armor.

The Caps actually beat Tampa Bay in shots 42-36. But it only took one shot in overtime that was the biggest Cap killer on a Brooks Laich high sticking penalty. Alexander Semin and Matt Pettinger were your goal scorers for the Caps. Brian Pothier, Ben Clymer and Laich all had assists. Alex Ovechkin was second in shots on goal, second to Semin, and did not score. Donald Brashear did play, but did not make the score sheet either in points or penalties.

Since the game was not televised, and the website radio broadcast was not working, I couldn’t really tell you anything about the game except what I could gain from the score sheets off Every player came out even in this game, only one player had a +1 and another had a -1 (Mike Green +1, Clymer -1).

The Caps face the Penguins for their next preseason game on Friday. It may be a match up of Ovechkin and Sid “the Kid” Crosby, but there will be no Evgeni Malkin who was injured in the preseason game with Ottawa after running into his own player (Mark Recchi who was also hurt in the same game for different reasons). No word on if that game will be televised or if there will be a radio webcast.

As concerned it is to see the Caps gain a good lead only to lose it with three unanswered goals, I really don’t take much stock in preseason games. Glen Hanlon is still playing with lines and many players that have permanent roster positions did not play tonight. Players that are jockeying for position must step up their defensive intensity for the team to be more rounded.

Caps Open Pre-Season Against Lightning

The practices have been furious, and players are jockeying for positions. The Capitals seem to have more on their minds than just improvement. It’s a good sign for Caps fans who have counted the days to see the phenom Alex Ovechkin again. But before the quest for a winning record, the Caps must face Tampa Bay in preseason action.

According to Mike Vogel, writer, the depth chart is as follows:

Capitals’ Lineup for Wednesday’s game:
8-Ovechkin, 16-Sutherby, 20-Zednik
43-Fleischmann, 24-Beech, 18-Pettinger
28-Semin, 21-Laich, 87-Brashear
10-Bradley, 22-Fata, 14-Fehr

2-Pothier, 26-Morrisonn
27-Clymer, 44-Eminger
52-Green, 55-Schultz


A couple of names not in the line up like Dainius Zubrus, Brent Johnson and captain Chris Clark. Ben Clymer has moved to defense which he has played before the Bolts moved him up to wing. Players looking for permanent jobs are Thomas Fleischmann, Kris Beech, Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr and defensemen Mike Green and Jeff Schultz as well as Maxime Daigneault.

Richard Zednik will be back in a Caps uniform for tonight’s game. Ovechkin will be wearing the A as assistant captain. Many of the young minor league players hope their efforts in winning the AHL Championship can translate to a spot on the bench at the Verizon Center.

Caps will be looking for those that have shown some improvement over the summer. Preseason has little to do with winning, and more about building a team.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

4 Days To Preseason

Only four days until the Capitals start their preseason, and still no television schedule for either the Caps web page or on It was about this time last year that the schedule was released. Comcast seemed willing to work out to put all 82 games on their schedule between several stations. So hopefully something will be worked out soon.

The Caps take today off after their first practice at palatial practice facility at Ashburn Friday. All Capitals were present and accounted for, Alexander Semin included. In a rash move to beef up the blue line, Caps signed John Erskin.

Practice starts again Sunday morning around 10 am. The Caps will be playing 2 preseason games this week, the first on Wednesday versus Tampa Bay, the next against the Penguins (Ovechkin vs. Malkin) on Friday.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Out With The Old, In With The New

Hockey is coming back. A new collective bargaining agreement sees its first off-season begin to melt away. That leaves many players on the free agency list in new uniforms as training camps start around the league.

Many teams took advantage of this windfall list, sending many players packing over the summer to new cities. While it is hard to gauge a clear winner or loser, only time and an 82 game season will tell, many teams looked shell shocked while others looked to land a little gold mind of players. Many teams hurriedly signed their stars to keep them home, many could not hold on to others, allowing key players that were big successes during the season to slip away.

The Buffalo Sabres can attest to losing some key talent. J.P. Dumont signed with Nashville after he could not agree to terms offered by Buffalo, Mike Grier and Jay McKee were also lost to San Jose and St. Louis respectively. Don’t cry for Buffalo yet, they still have Daniel Briere and Ryan Miller, and have signed Jaroslav Spacek from Edmonton.

The Ottawa Senators had their defense picked apart over the summer. Boston picked up Zdeno Chara, Washington took Brian Pothier and Detroit took back Dominik Hasek. However, Ottawa was able to hang on to most of their offensive weapons in Jason Spezza and others, still leaving them very dangerous in the Eastern Conference.

St. Louis has quietly made moves with some unexpected signings like Manny Legace from Detroit (who was blamed for their early fall in the playoffs even with a sluggish Detroit offense). Doug Weight returns to a Blues uniform and joining him in St. Louis are Martin Rucinsky from the Rangers, Dan Hinote from Colorado and McKee from Buffalo. The Blues are not going to be last in the Western Conference in the direction they are now heading.

If your head isn’t spinning yet with all of these moves, just know that we are only scratching the surface of players on the move this summer in the NHL. There are 132 free agents that have changed teams as listed on which doesn’t include off season trades as of September 14th. These are just the highlights.

Some familiar names also moved around after so-so seasons. Eric Lindros went south to become a Dallas Star, Ed Belfour did as well signing with Florida, and Petr Sykora made a move west in Edmonton. Michael Peca (his season was not sub par) is buying property in St. Paul signing with the Wild.

Goaltenders seemed to be on the move every wear. Hasek, Legace and Belfour were all packing to new locations. As were Ty Conklin who is now a Blue Jacket and John Grahame, who was strongly criticized by Coach John Tortorella after Tampa Bay lost in the first round of the playoffs, signed with Carolina. The biggest non move by a goaltender, Rick DiPietro who will be going no where soon, signed a 15 year contract with the New York Islanders, guaranteeing DiPietro at least $4 million a season until he is 40.

Free agency this off season has seen some players go back to their old haunts. Jeremy Roenick is a Coyote again. Rob Blake is back in Los Angeles after a stint in Colorado. Hasek will be flopping around the crease in red and white again with Detroit while Weight brings back some Cup experience to the Blues.

New faces in new places have kept many fans a buzzed this summer with rumor and speculation. Complaining about whom they let go, and who they signed. It will take some getting used to, to see players in different uniforms.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Captain Found in Clark

The Capitals did the right thing, and made Chris Clark their captain. The announcement came today. It’s the right person to take the reins of this team. He has the experience, and is a gritting two way player that is a hard worker on the ice.

Clark was the best choice for this team. Alex Ovechkin realized he wasn’t ready to be that person. Clark is the heart of what this team is supposed to be, tough and hard working. And as a fan, I couldn’t be happier for him and for this team.

Some talk going around is where everyone is going to be. Talk of maybe putting a Russian line together with Ovechkin, Dainius Zubrus and Alexander Semin. Most likely though Richard Zednik and Semin may be a solid number two line and the Russian trio may make an interesting power-play option.

Teams may fear the one and two line the Capitals are presenting. Possible line match ups will be much clearer tomorrow when the press gets a look in at the Caps. And on Friday for the Caps open practice to the public.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pick-Up Is Back

The season is starting to change. There is football on TV, the weather is getting cooler, and some of the ice rinks around D.C. are bringing back pick-up. Yes sir, pick-up hockey is back so I have to get my schedule down so I can make some time to hit the ice and stretch out the old legs.

While looking up some of the areas rinks to get the times and dates many of them will have for pick-up, I came across the Gardens Ice House's website and thought I would look around. They are the only ones, that I could find that have pick-up on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am normally at Mt. Vernon on Wednesdays and Fridays. Hockey four times a week, I can hardly stand it!

Anyway, I came across the league play on Gardens' website. That led me to and tempting link that was titled, Suspensions. This should be interesting. Just look at some of the infractions listed for their adult league:

  • "Match Penalty- Deliberately inflicting physical harm to a Game Official (Rule 601g1, League Rules)"

  • "Match Penalty - Kicking an opposing player (Rule 623b)"

  • "Game Misconduct - Using a racial slur towards an opponent (Rule 601f2) Probation and indefinite suspension applied under Rule 410, Supplementary Discipline"

  • And my favorite: "2 Game Misconducts - continuing to dispute an official's decision after being assessed a misconduct (Rule 601a, League Rules) Match Penalty - Attempting to inflict physical harm to a Game Official by throwing his broken stick shaft at the Official (Rule 601g(1), League Rules) Match Penalty - Attempting to inflict physical harm to an Off-ice Official by breaking his stick in the vicinity of the Score Keeper and almost hitting her with the blade (Rule 601g(3), League Rules) (assessed under Rule 410, Supplementary Discipline)"

That last one you heard right, the guy broke his stick in half and threw half at the referee, and the other half at the scorekeeper. The poor girl is just running the scoreboard. Not to mention that it's assault and you can get some serious jail time, I have seen cops get involved and it's not pretty. Guys sober up real quick.

It really makes me think of what kind of game some of these guys were playing. In the next column is the duration of the some of them, which includes permanent banishment from playing at the Gardens Ice House at all.

I know from playing in an Adult league, how easy it is for someone to lose their cool. But some of these infractions are just uncalled for. I have only been in a fight once on the ice, a full throwing punches and pulling the jersey. I got a 5 game suspension for doing so and regretted ever getting involved. It made me approach the game in a totally different way.

So for now I am going to stay away from that adult league, and just attend a pick-up game or two a week. It is not worth getting a stick thrown at you.

Monday, September 11, 2006


5 years ago a tragedy hit the nation. It was a day that sports took a back seat. The scars are still present in the landscape of the New York skyline, and in the faces of those who saw those planes hit the twin towers and the Pentagon.

Sports meant very little at that moment. But soon afterward, it was sports we turned to for comfort, for a sense of normalcy in this world gone crazy. Whether it was the return of the NFL season, or the amazing seven-game World Series featuring the Yankees and Diamondbacks, Americans rallied around their teams.

It was a welcome change from watching the disaster that wouldn’t go away on our news channels. In a world that changed, sports didn’t. The players were the same, the rules were the same, and the uniforms brought comfort to those that just needed a break.

Instead of writing a sapping article in my poor grammar, I thought I would find some experts to relay what 9/11 means to sports.

Loved Ones Remember Kings Scouts' Joy of Life – Helene Elliott, L.A. Times

Never Forget – Lisa Olson, New York Daily News

Pain of 9/11 Can’t be Erased for Aggie – Terrance Harris, Houston Chronicle

Baseball Helped In Healing – Mike Berardino, Sun Sentinel News

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Potheir vs. Brashear

It took me a while to find it, but I finally did. March 5 2004, Flyers vs. Senators. Donald Brashear gets into a tussle with Rob Ray in front of the Flyers net. The fight ignited 413 penalty minutes, a single game record in the NHL.

While it really wasn't Brashear's fight I was looking for, I remembered Brian Potheir and Brashear tussled. Potheir actually jumps Brashear over the head of the linesman.

The video is the first of three. If you want to see all three rounds which leaves a total of 5 players on the benches for both teams, here is part 2 and part 3.

The Irony of all this is now both players are now on the same team. I assume they got over it, let's hope. I knew of the scrap between both players but didn't realize it was in the middle of a brawl and that Potheir nearly took the head off the referee to get at Brashear. It is nice to see Potheir show a little toughness, which his stock is starting to rise as I do more research on the new Capital.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Some Old Time Hockey

Canada vs. England (1930)

Some really old footage I found on youtube. I had to share. Canada vs. England and Canada beat England (don't know the score, but it was the final game at the first Ice Hockey World Championship).

Notice the defensemen on this old footage. Kinda looks like the Capitals blue liners, just standing around.

Camp Roster Set

Caps have released their camp roster. It’s a list with some very familiar names on it, and not so familiar names. One thing is certain, the Caps are relying on their prospects to step it up for this season.

Some names that stick out that were in Hershey last year. Mike Green is a young talented defenseman that shows he is quick, strong and already a fan favorite. Brooks Laich is another to watch, who nearly secured a spot at the end of last season playing 73 games in the big league and getting some key goals in the Bears’ championship run in the minors.

If Alexander Semin actually shows up, he will certainly create a buzz for the Caps adding another weapon to the already loaded offensive threat. Brian Pothier will be the only major signing George McPhee did in the off season. The Caps are in desperate need of defense, as was evident last season where Olie Kolzig faced 50+ shots a game. Instead of getting a good stay at home defenseman, McPhee gets an offensive defenseman. It makes sense, kinda of.

The only other signing that raised some eyebrows was acquiring Donald Brashear. Brashear does not add anything to the club except brute toughness. He is the team’s policeman keeping those other goons in line. He will be a heavy hitter and an all out fighter that should keep the drunken lobbyists in the stands at the phone booth amused after they get bored watching Kolzig get pummeled with shots.

There are 6 goaltenders attending camp. The most familiar are of course Kolzig, Brent Johnson, Fredric Cassivi (who was signed by the Capitals after his spectacular effort in net for Hershey), and Maxime Daigneault. The other two are top prospects Daren Machesney and Michal Neuvirth.

It is also interesting that among the names who is not there. Like one, Ivan Majesky is not on the list. Still on the free agent list as of the morning of Sep. 8, Majesky may not be in a Capitals’ sweater this season.

Also missing are Brian Willsie (signed with L.A.), Jeff Halpern (signed with Dallas), Mathieu Biron (signed with San Jose), Nolan Yonkman (signed with Nashville), Jeff Friesen (traded to Anaheim), and of course Brendan Witt (traded to Nashville, signed with Islanders).

One thing is for sure about this camp, the Caps are putting all their cards in the hands of their young players. They are counting on the prospects to show signs of improvement once again this season.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hockey Around The Corner

It’s a great time to be a blogger for hockey. Teams are beginning to show up for camp, players are revisiting their old haunts. And all the off season trades and signings have observers like us buzzing with dreams of post season greatness.

Instead of chatting about mindless non-news the bloggers have a chance to talk more about the actual game. It’s a dawning of a new season that makes us giddy like school girls asked to dance for the first time.

No more will we dazzle you with boring youtube videos of the same goals over and over. No more will hockey bloggers complain about the latest signings or non-signings or bad trades. No more will you see yet another Alex Ovechkin montage that inevitably leads to “the goal.”

Now it’s time for us to sign on and tell you how ready our teams are to kick everyone’s butt. It’s that nervous anticipation for camp to start like a nervous first time father in the waiting room waiting to be told if it’s a boy or a crappy team.

The Capital’s camp officially starts September 15th. Circled on my calendar with a red marker that rivals the circle around my anniversary (don’t tell my wife). Caps fans have a lot to talk about, and surprisingly it’s not all about Alex Ovechkin.

How will Brian Pothier fit into the new scheme? Which prospect will step up this year and make the team for good? How will the Hershey Bears championship in the AHL last year affect the Capitals this year? And of course who will be the Caps new captain?

While all of those will be answered after the first couple of games the Caps play, the biggest question will be if this team is a contender. Ovechkin has already set the goal of making the playoffs this season, and it remains to be seen if this team has improved to that standard.

All these questions are swirling around in the mind of the hockey blogger about their respective teams. They are starting to spill them out on their pages. Now we are talking about hockey, not just the lack there of.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Not Ready To Be Captain

Go figure, I had to go to a Canadian website to get this gem. Alex Ovechkin turns down the Capital’s captain vacancy citing that his English is not very good to take that role this year. I totally agree with him, just for different reasons.

Ovechkin is an amazing talent and the Capitals are his team, but it’s only his second year in the league. Not an accomplishment to warrant a “C” on his shoulder. It’s the same problem I have with Sid “the Kid” Crosby taking the captain’s role. What can a second year player know that a 5 year veteran who had to earn a spot to play in the National Hockey League doesn’t?

Crosby and Ovechkin are two of the leagues most exciting players, each able to create unbelievable plays on ice that leave fans shaking their heads. It’s what they do on the ice can make or break games for their respective teams. They have created a buzz about the league that hasn’t been there since Wayne Gretzky’s smooth scoring, or Mario Lemieux’s brute strength and soft hands.

But are they ready to scold a teammate that has seen harder times in this league than they have? Can Crosby be tough with a player that has 10 seasons under his belt? Can Ovechkin keep the spirits up of his teammates that seesaw between the minors and coming back up and being sent down again, if Ovechkin has never set foot in the minor league system?

These are all challenges that many of the league’s captains have to face each time they practice, play and lead their teams. How can a year of playing in the NHL make these boys men? Not just men, but captains. Crosby and Ovechkin are certainly not ready to be that kind of leader when they themselves have so much learning to do.

Great hockey captains like Jason Smith, Rod Brind’Amour, Mark Messier, Stevie Yzerman, Joe Sakic, and Mike Modano all had accomplishments under their belt. They were all veterans that were true students of the game, even becoming teachers as well. They all had taken their experiences, years of playing in this league, the ups and downs of season after season and applied them to the team. It’s what made them great captains. They had earned the respect of their peers, not just handed the position after a “good” year.

I don’t know if Crosby and Ovechkin have that yet. They can earn their stripes with an “A” proudly on their chest of course. After a few years of experiencing what it means to bring your lunch pale and hard hat to every practice, every game, and every playoff series, they then can be the teachers and leaders that have the battlefield experience. It’s then, with the team solidly theirs, they can wear the “C” like a war medal.

It’s laughable to expect a player that has only played one season to become a leader. One year does not gauge a player’s overall career. If the season goes to crap under the leadership of a sophomore player, are they to blame? And is a sophomore player ready for the responsibility of being the team’s leader?

Crosby’s constant whining over every hit, or Ovechkin’s lack of good English are interesting arguments against putting them in charge. But in the end it’s not if they can lead, it’s if they really have earned that right to be the leader.

Editor's Note: This article is featured on the website

Bondra Back?

It’s time to hit the ice, work out the cobwebs, oil the hinges, and scrape the rust. And for a few Capitals, September 15th isn’t soon enough. A few sightings confirmed by Tarik El-Bashir of Caps at Ashburn signals the start of a new season.

Players such as Dainius Zubrus, Chris Clark, Brian Pothier, Shaone Morrisonn, and Olaf Kolzig dressed up for an informal skate at Ashburn Ice House. Plus a surprise guest, Peter Bondra.

Bondra expressed interest in coming back to the Capitals, but George McPhee showed no interest:

"We were waiting to hear from the Caps, and last week I got an answer" from General Manager George McPhee , said Bondra, who still has a home in Annapolis. "He said he wasn't interested. So now I have to look at some other options.

"The Caps were my first option," he added. "But unfortunately that isn't going to work out."

Peter Bondra was not only a fan favorite in DC, but a significant producer holding many scoring titles here as a Capital. Since the purge of 2004 where the Capitals basically dumped every veteran paycheck in an effort to get younger, Bondra has been bouncing team to team playing with Atlanta last year and Ottawa a season before that. It looks like he will be looking for work elsewhere for this season too.

It’s not about the past, but about the future and Alex Ovechkin is the bright star on the horizon. That is if we can pull him away from Toronto. Ovechkin seems to prefer our neighbors to the north even telling a reporter there that he would like to play in Toronto. Uh-oh.

Next week will mark the return of all Capitals for opening camp that will be split between Ashburn and Hershey. And that means the season is just around the corner. For Caps fans, it’s a new dawn that has to be better than the previous one. It all started on an informal skate with Bondra on the ice alongside. How ironic.

NHL Notes

  • Evgeni Malkin is officially a Penguin. Like that wasn’t going to happen after sneaking him over an ocean and hiding him in Los Angeles.

  • Stephen Peat is no longer a Cap, he’s a ‘Cane. Guess getting Donald Brashear was enough.

  • will be going under a major renovation. The word on the street is that will become more like allowing fans to have their own pages and more. It is going to be an attempt to get fans more involved with their teams and with the sport. It may change many of the hockey blogs you see today, instead of searching for them on google, they may all be at

That’s all I got.