Capitals Family Wishes All the Best to the Smailys


If you have spent any time at Kettler Ice Plex you have undoubtedly seen four-year old Jonas and his dad Sigi. They are part of the Capitals Practice Pack and good friends with the Caps Russian players. And they are heading off to Texas for some new adventures.  




We got to know Sigi as we began writing our blog in November 2015. We adopted Jonas as our mascot and quickly came to realize the we were watching a future hockey star in the making. JoJo spends every minute his dad can spare, skating on the ice. He is so good that he is already skating with older kids.

We, the Caps Practice Pack, and all of Kettler and the Verizon Center will miss seeing the Smailys around. Thanks for all your support to our little blog. Keep posting those videos Sigi so we can keep watching Jonas grow into that elite hockey player. We can’t wait to see Max follow in his big brother’s footsteps!! (Haha- you know it’s coming!)

From Sigi’s Facebook

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Maggie, Brittney, and FiCP

Washington Capitals and Fans: A Giving Community

Every year we the fans become part of the Washington Capitals giving community. We participate in raffles, auctions, and donation opportunities. The Capitals help make us aware of some of the great outreach organizations in our area. Many of the players extend their personal giving of time beyond the Capitals events, especially during the off season.

This past season, Monumental Sports sponsored several events at Verizon Center during game time. They raised a good bit of money (over $900,000) for the charities they support. Here are some highlights of those efforts and some special activities that the players are personally involved in during their own time.

The Caps and Inova host a blood drive about four times a year at Kettler Ice Plex. This summer participants received a Burakovsky bobblehead and had the joy of sharing the gift of life. Check here for the next date and to sign up to give. (The next donor date has not be set yet)

One of the strongest connections the MSE Foundation has in the area is with Fort DuPont Ice Arena. The Caps announced this summer that they have provided a “$20,000 grant for the second consecutive season in 2016-17 to continue to give children an opportunity to learn through sports” through the Up2Us Sports program. In June, MSE announced a donation of $12,000 to the hockey club to support youngsters who are interested in hockey. They also hosted the annual summer cleanup, donating another $5,000. The Caps frequently skate at Fort DuPont and this year hosted the youth and family at Kettler for a skate with Alex Ovechkin. You too can volunteer there to ensure hockey is really for everyone. Click here to become a friend of FDIA.


The Caps have a special affinity for the military, especially families of fallen soldiers. As part of the Salute to our Military, fans helped raise $56,000 through the auction of Caps memorabilia. Some of the players joined families of an evening of skating and story-sharing as part of TAPS. watermarked92016-12-22-2059

Hockey Fights Cancer often links with Make a Wish to raise funds to fight cancer and to support young people by making their wish to meet and skate with Caps players come true. This umbrella program brings together some of the local organizations that are there for families. MSE announced: “$63,955 for Flashes of Hope, Hope for Henry, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Leidos donated an additional $40,000 – $10,000 to each organization. Combined with proceeds from the evening’s 50/50 raffle, warm-up puck sales, Ellie’s Hats donations and the sale of Hockey Fights Cancer pins, nearly $140,000 was raised for the charities.”

We got to know Jay Coakley with Ellie’s Hats this year. This once one-man show has grown, in large part because of the exposure the Caps and Taylor Winnik gave them. This is a year-round group that now provides more then just hats for sick children but gift cards, backpacks, and other financial support all year.  Please consider helping Jay bring smiles to the little ones in our community by donating here.

karl signing ball
The Washington Capitals Fan Club is more than just a group of fans who meet up before games. They too are a generous giving organization. Every year they sell and auction off Christmas balls signed by the players. This past year they raised $10,000 for the Fort DuPont Kids. We’ll share more about their outreach and events soon.

T.J. Oshie has a personal connection to the struggles of family’s who struggle with the far reaching effect of Alzheimer’s. He revealed that his father Coach Oshie is in the early stages of the disease. This summer TJ asked fans to help support the search for a cure by donating to the Alzheimer’s Association Longest Day campaign. You can still give $77, or more, through the link.

Players have a way of giving back to the community by sharing their skills and time with others, usually in their hometowns. Many players find a way to give and to keep it under the radar for the most part. Just because we don’t hear about doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Every year, now former Cap, Justin Williams hosts JW Hockey Camp in his hometown of Cobourg, Ontario.  All proceeds go to his charity, the Justin Williams Foundation.

Tom Wilson returned to his roots in May to support his former elementary school in Toronto. During a Fun Fair, he signed autographs and

Tom’s former roommate, Michael Latta, takes time out every offseason to work with youth on their skating skills. He is a great coach, encouraging the special needs kids at camp Kid’s Abilty to go the extra distance.

Coach Trotz is an avid supporter of Best Buddies. Last October the Capitals wives and girlfriends put together a team, with the Trotz Strolling with Nolan Team, walked to raise awareness during the Best Buddies Friendship Walk on the Mall. Sign up here to walk this year on 21 October.  watermarked32016-10-16-1932

Speaking of wives and girlfriends, they have always been champions for fund raising and bringing awareness to special interests. In addition to supporting Best Buddies, they (especially Taylor Winnik) supported events with baskets to raffle, highlighting Ellie’s Hats, and of course the annual calendar that Taylor shot for Homeward Trails. Sales garnered $67,000 for the pups in need. We really will miss Dan and Taylor and the impact they made on our community.


We learned this summer that Evgeny Kuznetsov was part of a group of Russian skaters who donated donated “new uniforms to a sled-hockey team [in Chelyabinsk,” according to CSN. He, like Ovechkin, supports an orphanage in Russia. He hopes to one day open a hockey school there too.

Dmitry Orlov frequently spends the offseason supporting local charities in Russia. This year we have seen him throwing his support behind a local hockey training center.

We’re sure there is much more going on that with the players and coaches that we don’t always know about. Many prefer to do what they do quietly and privately. At the end of the day we know that hockey players have a reputation for giving and so do their fans. We encourage you to keep the giving and community outreach going over the summer and to stash a little away to supoort MSE, the Fan Club, and other great organizations during the season.

Keep Rocking the Red friends!!!

Washington Capitals Young Guns, Past and Future

young guns

The original Capitals Young Guns were a special group of players that joined the Capitals in the early 2000s. Typically, when we refer to the Young Guns we mean Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Nick Backstrom, and Alex Semin because of a 2008 promotional poster of the four. The name stuck. Ovi, Green, and Semin were all 22 at the time the poster came out. Backstrom was just 20 and playing his first season with the Caps. Additionally, other star players were all 23 or younger, including Jeff Schultz (21), Eric Fehr (22), Tomas Fleishman (23) and Brooks Laich was only 24.

The four players were the high scorers on the team. It was a time when the majority of the players were 25 or younger. Older guys like Sergie Federov , Brett Johnson, and Olie Kolzig were now in their 30s and winding down their time with the Capitals. It was an exciting time for the Capitals and the Washington DC region. We had the flash of Alex Ovechkin who was scoring machine who seemed unstoppable. The players seemed to be everywhere, hanging out in the clubs with fans that were happily Rocking the Red everywhere we went. Ted Leonsis understood what he had and used the youth of the team to light the hockey spark for many of us.

So where are those guys today—the ones who captivated a region and drew many of us into our first hockey games? Ovi and Backstrom remain with the team and only Jay Beagle and John Carlson remain from the era of YGs—Beagle joined the roster in 2010 and Carlson in 2009.

NHL: Preseason-Washington Capitals at Montreal CanadiensAlex (Sasha) Semin was traded by the Caps after the 2011/12 season. His performance, and attitude, began to slip and management finally decided it was time for him to go. He went on to play for the Carolina Hurricanes for three seasons before finding himself in Montreal. Sadly his stats just kept dropping and heads kept shaking about  his game. He signed with the KHL-Magnitogorsk Metallurg in 2016. He was last seen singing at Ovechkin’s wedding.

green_red-wingsMike Green was traded in July 2015 to the Detroit Red Wings. The two-time Norris Trophy winner became too expensive for the Caps. He had suffered through injury and had finally rebound in the inte 2014/15 season. A good thing for everyone, except the accountants.  At 31, he ended the season a -20; however, he led the team’s defensemen in goals. He will be a UFA at the end of this season and could very well be a the end of his career.

Brooks Laich was traded to the Maple Leafs in February 2016, much to the dismay of the fans. He was the longest tenured player in the locker room at the time of his trade and often thought to be the voice of encouragement for the team. Truthfully, his game had declined. Like Mike Green, he suffered some injuries from which he never seemed to rebound. His run in Toronto didn’t go too well. He is without a team right now, but he does have a lovely new wife–Julianne Hough.laich

Goalies Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth would ultimately find themselves playing on other teams as the Caps continued to search for the goalie of their dreams. Varly went to Denver where he has had a reasonably successful career as their starting goalie. Neuvy was traded for Jaraslov Halak in 2014 and is the number two for the Philadelphia Flyers. Both continue to have injury issues which had a lot to do with the Caps helping them move on.

Jeff Schultz asked the Capitals to trade him after the 2012/13 season as his ice time decreased and his performance slowed under Coach Oates. He found himself playing for the LA Kings, and though his time on the ice didn’t improve, he had the last laugh when he hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2014. He was sent down to the AHL and played two more years. He played with the San Diego Gulls last season.

Eric Fehr was one of the most beloved players of the YG-era. He came to the Caps after three seasons with the Hershey Bears. He wasn’t necessarily a stunning player, averaging 28 points a season, but he brought that sense of urgency the team was known for at the time. The Caps traded him to Winnepeg in 2011 and brought him back in 2012 before again trading him to the Pittsburg Pens. He bounced between the Pens and the Maple Leafs—playing a hard game against the Caps during the 2016 playoffs. He too got to hoist the Cup. He has one more year left on his contract with Toronto. He is recovering from a broken hand but is expected to return.

Tomas Fleischmann, aka Flash, brought that spunk to the ice that excited the crowd. The Czech player has had some rough days over the years. Originally drafted by the Red Wings, his rights were transferred to the Caps in 2004 and he joined the team in 2006, splitting his time with the Bears. He was side-lined in 2009 when it was discovered that he had a blood clot. He returned late for the following season and went on to play in the playoffs, although not contributing too much. He was traded to the Panthers in 2011 and in 2014 they traded him to the Ducks. The Canadiens signed him the following season who traded him to the Blackhawks for the 2015/16 season. He failed his physical with the Hawks and is believed to have ended his career due to ongoing health issues.

Karl Alzner was trade to the Maple Leafs this summer. He was the ultimate Iron Man for the Caps, setting the performance and work ethic bar high. Unfortunately, the salary cap made it impossible for the Capitals to sign him to a new contract. We expect to see him make a difference on the blue line for the Leafs. He and John Carlson were late comers to the YGs but were part of the mix that made fans believe a Cup win was possible.

Young Guns 2

We hear a lot about Young Guns2 with the 2017/18 season. While we get that there will be a group of younger men joining the roster to augment the ones who signed this summer, we wonder if they will have the same impact that the original YGs had on the sport. As of now, seven of the 18 players holding spots on the roster are 30 or older, including Ovi and Nicky, the last of the YGs. With the return of Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Tom Wilson along with the potential addition of players like Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, or any number of Bears who will move up; the Capitals should be a sensational team to watch. The next couple of seasons have the potential to be as exciting as those years with the original Young Guns and make their mark in the NHL. We want to see that revived sense of urgency and drive to win that we for a few years starting with the 2007/08 season.

Capitals Goaltender Coach Passes the Baton to the Next Generation

At the conclusion of the Washington Capitals’ Development Camp, goalie coach Mitch Korn announced that he would be stepping down from his position and turning the reins over to Hershey Bears coach Scott Murray. Will this mean a change in the training philosophy and perhaps even the way in which Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer perform between the pipes?

Coaching a goaltender is no easy task. USA Hockey writes about the challenges that extend well beyond just firing pucks at the goalie during practice. It involves teaching the goalie to watch the ice, anticipate the puck, and know when to move high or low to block a shot. It is much more of a mind game combined with a skating skill game. We have all heard post-game reviews that talk about a goalie not having his head in the game.

One of the things that Coach Korn has been able to do is integrate Holtby and Grubauer with the team. They aren’t stand-alone players. He has taught the players how to challenge his goalies in the first minutes of each practice. Mitch always had a core team of guys who helped him work with the goalies. It was about the net minders, not the players. The training is so much more than just stopping slapshots – it involves understanding the players on the opponent teams and expecting the unexpected. He has a reputation for investing in the lives of his goalies, understanding that a coach’s job doesn’t end on the ice, taking into consideration the whole person as a player.

Mitch came to the Caps with Barry Trotz in 2014. He has coached five goalies to become Vezina Trophy winners, including Braden Holtby. He has fine-tuned the skills of Grubi into an elite player with the potential to become a starting goalie in the NHL. We have seen his unique approach to training, using screen boards and angle devices. He is a hands-on coach. One of the things we heard after development camp was how impressed the players were in the time he took with each of them.

Murray, at 35, has some big shoes to fill. He began coaching the Bears goalies, including Grubauer, in 2013. More recently he has coached the likely next generation of Caps goalies, Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek. He has had the privilege of working under the guidance of Olie Kolzig. Scott previous spent five seasons as goalie coach of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, He has already spent some time with Korn during camp so the transition to the Caps goalie coach should be relatively seamless.

Murray is one who believes in training his goaltenders to read the environment. He brings with him a history of working to develop players into top notch goalies. In addition to developing goaltenders in Hershey and in the OHL, he worked as a development coach for the RHP Training Centre in Ontario for two years. He is open to using all the tools available to coaches to improve his players. While his philosophy and process may differ slightly from that of Mitch Korn, we think he will be bring something new to improve the stopping power of the Caps goalies.

What’s next for Mitch, who turns 60 this fall? We understand that he will oversee goal-tending operations and serve as a mentor to Scott as he makes the transition. As Director of Goaltending, he will also travel to Caps affiliates in Hershey and South Carolina (ECHL) to work with their coaches and share his years of experience. He will continue with the Mitch Korn Goaltenders and Defensemen Camp to train up a new generation of potential NHL goaltenders. The teach of the ‘goalie whisper’ will continue, even as he pulls back from some of his duties with the Caps. And we imagine he will have much more time back home in NY for more great deli sandwiches!

watermarked2(2017-03-23-2150)Braden is one of the most agile goalies in the league. You know – those amazing splits and twirls when he makes one of those amazing saves that gets our heart pumping!! Underneath the showmanship is a well-trained player with discipline and concentration who is willing to do what it takes to make the save. We don’t expect any of that to go away. We look forward to observing Murray during training camp and Caps practice to see how he interacts with the goalies and what training tricks he has up his sleeve.

Washington Capitals: John Carlson Ready to Bring it?

John Carlson was once seen as one of the linchpins of the Capitals special teams; however, his role slipped with the arrival of Kevin Shattenkirk last season. He frequently skated with Matt Niskanen in this new role on the second powerplay group. Carlson has a reputation as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, certainly on the Caps roster. When not shooting himself, he is creating opportunities for the forwards, feeding them the puck at just the right moment. Unfortunately, many believe that some of those skills seem to be slipping away from the talented blue liner.

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Carlson was drafted by the Capitals in 2008 and with buddies Karl Alzner and Jay Beagle was a member of the 2008/09 Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears. He played his first game with the Caps in November 2009 recording six points in 22 games and scoring his first NHL goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in March 2010. He quickly became known for his speed and aggressive play, blocking forwards heading to the Caps net. He moves the puck smoothly toward the opponents net and has been one of the highest scoring defensemen in the NHL.

Carly has seen is fair share of missed games due to injury. He was out in April 2017 for the last four games of the regular season due to a lower-body injury and it wasn’t clear if he would make it for the playoffs. He was also out earlier in the season, again for a lower-body injury, missing six games.

During 2015/16 season Carly was on his way to claiming the Iron Man (playing 412 consecutive games) title for the team when he was injured in December and missed 12 games. He then missed another 13 games following corrective surgery for a fractured ankle. He returned with a bang in March, scoring the overtime game winning goal against the New Jersey Devils. It was obvious when he came back the first time that he wasn’t quite himself.  He never really seemed to recover from that period off.

The Caps placed Carlson on the protected list during the recent NHL expansion draft, offering up Nate Schmidt instead. The team also indicated their faith in Brooks Orpik when they said they weren’t considering a buy-out of his contract to open up some salarly cap space. Also back this season are Taylor Chorney, Matt Niskanen and the newly signed Dmitry Orlov who is likely to find himself on the special team’s top group. It remains to be seen who will join them when the season kicks off on 5 October. Given Carlson’s  injury record, it would behoove the Caps to have seven defensemen on the roster.

Since joining the Capitals in 2009, Carlson has played 526 games, scoring 62 goals and assisting on another 203 for the team. This past season he ranked eighth on the team for overall points and sixth for assists. However, when it comes to plus/minus on the team, he ranks lowest for the defensemen – Brooks Orpik has a +32 while Carlson ended the regular season a +7, his personal lowest in the past three seasons. And, he has the third highest ice time on the team–suggesting the high level of confidence Coach Barry Trotz has in his abilities. His playoff performance has been fairly steady over time, he routinely scores at least two goals, scoring on the power play. His plus/minus tends to drop which is a contributing factor to the teams inability to advance to round three and the finals. We hope to see John and the rest of the team get past whatever holds them back in the playoffs.


John Carlson: defenseman, dad, and devoted husband. He and his wife Gina are slowly grooming their son Lucca into a hockey player in his own right! The couple married in September 2014 welcoming Lucca to the family in June 2015.They live quietly and close to Gina’s family in Maryland. Gina is an active fund raiser for St. Judes. Check out her fundrasing page to become part of her donor team and follower her on Instagram to participate in her raffles during the season, which frequently include Caps tickets and a meet and greet with John.

Carlson seems to have been banged up quite a bit the past few seasons. He never really seemed to come back as strong after his first injury, leaving us wondering what is holding him back. We are looking forward to seeing the old Carly back to playing a key role in the team’s success. The team needs his grit and fight to get further in the playoffs this coming season. Additionally, he will be one of the blueliners responsible for mentoring junior players joining the team and together they have an opportunity to one of the strongest group of defensemen in the league this season. We’ll see how big a role he plays on the man-advantage unit this season and if his PP scoring numbers are on the rise.

 

Monday Bits and Pieces of Washington Capitals News

We are in the midst of summer hockey doldrums as we wait for training camp and the new season to start. For the Caps, there are still a few things to settle about lines and rookies. 

Meanwhile, weddings are behind us. The Ovechkin’s and Laich’s are winding up their honeymoons. Former Capitals/Bears defenseman Connie Carrick announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend Lexi Solofra. Congrats!!

Travels

Burky is home!!

The Oshie’s are in Lake Tahoe according to Lauren’s post:


Nicky Backstrom continues to work out in Sweden with his trainer- even taking in some cooking classes:


Philipp Grubauer remains in Germany and visited one of my personal favorite castles: Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein. 


Dmitri Orlov took in some Russian football:


Over the weekend, friends of the Caps who donated blood received a Bura Bobblehead. Did you get yours? Thanks to all who gave!

ICYMI

Caps sign Liam

And that’s about it for now. You know it’s slow when other bloggers and media are recycling stories. How are you filling your hours waiting for October??

Washington Capitals: Hockey Family Extraordinaire

One of the things that makes all the change this summer difficult for some Capitals fans is the sense that the family is breaking up. The players are pretty active on social media which tends to make us feel closer to them. We have the advantage of peeking into their personal lives, the weddings, babies, and the fun they have together.

It’s hard to create the family-nature we saw this past year. The bonds have grown over the years and people like Dan and Taylor Winnik brought the friendships to new heights between Taylor’s photography and trips as teams. As some of the players move on, we are left wondering if the team can recapture the unity they had last season and if they will be able to integrate the younger players who join the roster into the “family.” We don’t know about other teams, but the Caps have a special camaraderie that continues well after a player moves on to other teams.

We saw just how close this group had become when they took two team vacations during the Bye Week.

Last summer we had the Alzner- Oshie vacation:

But maybe nothing is better than watching the players tweet one-another, either in jest or to congratulate them. And the connections have continued well after teammates move along.

There is something hysterical about Young Guns2 – Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Andre Burakovsky–especially when the ‘old dudes’ get involved:

But nothing, absolutely nothing, tops what happened when Bura got his new, two-year contract this summer. Of course, Latts got things rolling and Justin Williams took the bait:

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And it just got a little crazier with their obviously inside joke.

Once again, leaving the youngest player mystified–as were we! It all warmed our hearts!

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Throughout the years the boys have supported each other in their accomplishments – even when they are playing for other teams, or in the case of John Erskine, not playing. Erskine has been known to randomly show up for Caps games in DC or Canada. Once a Capital – always a Capital!

Of all the relationships, none can top the bromance between Latta and Wilson. The one-time roommates still give it to each other on social media. Their antics keep us in stiches–like when they dressed up as a “special couple” for the Ovechkin team halloween party.

 

Always Room at the OvechkinTable

Speaking of Alex Ovechkin – there is of course the unique homeland bond that the Russian players have. The friendships extend well beyond Caps players into the US-Russian community. They have helped one another adjust to life in the US and to learn the language and how to navigate the different culture. Alex has maintained a relationship with former Caps and old friend, Alex Semin, who was at his wedding extravaganza in July. Ovi frequently hosts family and friends at his home in McLean, Virginia. Those friendships are evident at Ketter where you can Nastya Ovekina and Varvara Orlova hanging out during practice. The Orlovs are close friends with Sergei Bobrovsky and his wife, frequently traveling together. Evgeny Kuznetsov seems to be the quiet one of the bunch, except at weddings.

 

The family atmosphere on the team boils over to the fans. Players (and their families) are quick to interact with fans when they meet them. And many of us have found great friendships in our common love for the Capitals.We have a wonderful community found in season ticket holder events, Capitals Fan Club, The Road Crew, hockey-supported events, and anywhere you find hockey being played.

The Caps inspire us and have helped to build a community that continues to grow and we have no doubt that we and the players will make the new kids feel right at home. There is always room for more friends in cold places after all….
 

Washington Capitals Investing in the Future

The Washington Capitals will look different this season. Several players have left and their spots will most likely be filled with rookies from the Hershey Bears and a few new gentlemen who are filling the roster. Gone are Marcus Johansson, Nate Schmidt, Justin Williams, Daniel Winnick Kevin Shattenkirk, and Karl Alzner.  These players were key contributors to the Capitals successful regular season and will be missed on and off the ice.

This season will see a commitment to a group of younger players—“The 20-Somethings”—from the previous season’s roster; players who the management believe can get them past the second round of the playoffs. With new contracts for Andre Burakovbsky (22), Evgeny Kuznetsov (25), Dmitry Orlov (25), and Brett Connolly (25) the Caps have a core group of NHL experienced players under 25 that should be prepared to serve as a bridge between the veteran and rookie players. Continue reading “Washington Capitals Investing in the Future”

Monday Eve Capitals and Fans Social Media Updates 

We continue to wait for September and Capitals training camp and pre-season games. News moves slowly this time of year…

The Hershey Bears had news!

Nicky!

Still time to Rock the Red

Kettler is a great place to learn to skate:

Around the Ice

Washington Capitals US-Russia Connection, (and then some)…Part 2

Part two of Luis Felipe Rodrigues’ series on former Soviet/Russian players for the Washington Capitals. Read Part One here.

We were reminded that in 1974, the first year of the Washington Capitals, the Cold War, a dispute between the United States and the Soviet Union, still loomed.  The dispute had and impact on hockey as many of the players were born in the old rival power of the USA did and today continue making history in the NHL.

The Capitals have a long history of bringing in players for former Soviet-bloc countries, as well as Russia. In part one we looked at former Capital’s players from those areas. Today we look at current players from Russia and the Czech Republic. Perhaps none have had more of an impact than the Capital’s current captain.

Alexander Ovechkin was born in Moscow, Soviet Russia. His father Mikhail was a soccer player. His mother, Tatyana, a legend of Soviet basketball, won two Olympic gold medals in 1976 (Montreal) and 1980 (Moscow). Ovechkin has loved the sport since childhood and has always stood out. He arrived at the Caps in a troubled times for the NHL and the Capitals.

The Caps had traded Peter Bondra and a few other players as a way to cut costs. The team had finished the 2003-04 season in as the last place of the then Southeast Division and penultimate placed East Conference with 59 points and ahead only of its arch rival Pittsburgh Penguins (of the Atlantic Division) with 58 points. At the Western Conference, Washington was ahead of only the Chicago Blackhawks, who also had 59 points, but the Capitals took the best for more victories, which gave the Capitals the penultimate last place in the league. 

The Capitals won the 2004 draft lottery and selected Ovechkin; however, his debut was postponed due to the NHL lockout which canceled the entire 2004-05 season. Ovi has since become a symbol of the Caps franchise, his home country, and sport as one of the greatest scorers playing today. Ovi keeps making history with every passing season. First, he received the Calder Memorial Trophy as the rookie of the league year. He has been selected eight times for the All-Star Game, won the Art Ross Trophy in 2008 (given to the highest scorer in the season) with 112 points,  and six times won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He became the player with most goals and points in the franchise history, surpassing Peter Bondra.

Ovechkin currently has 558 goals and 477 assists, totaling 1035 points. In addition, he holds the franchise’s record in: most goals in a season (65 in 2007-08), most goals in a season as a rookie (52 in 2005-06), most power-play goals in a season (24 in 2013-14), most power-play goals in a season as a rookie (21 in 2005-06), most power-play career goals (191 so far), most game-winning career goals (86 so far), plus points in a season as a rookie ) He also recorded the most shots on goal in one season (528 in 2008-09). For the league, Ovi is the player who most scored goals in a season by left winger (65 in 2007-08) and the Russian born who scored most goals in the league, surpassing former Capitals Sergei Fedorov. When playing for Russia, he won three IIHF World Championships (2008, 2012 and 2014).

Born in 1992, Evgeny Kuznetsov is the first and only Russian of the team hitherto born in the country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was picked as the 26th overall by the Capitals in 2010, but he didn’t debut with the team until the 2013-14 season.  On April 27, 2015, he scored the game-winning goal over the New York Islanders in Game seven of Round one, which was externalized in fans memory. In 2016, he played the All-Star Game replacing Ovechkin, who suffered an injury. “Kuzy,” as he is called by the fans, is an indispensable player, renewing his contract recently for eight years and will receive a total of $ 63.4 million. He was with Ovehckin on the team which won the gold medal in the IIHF World Championship in 2012 and 2014.

Dmitry Orlov was born in Novokuznetsk, Soviet Union in 1991, the year in which the dissolution occurred. He is the last player to join the Caps who was been born in Soviet Russia. He was drafted by the Capitals as the 55th overall choice in 2009. He was slow to take to the team, sometimes playing for Capitals, sometimes for Hershey Bears, the Capitals affiliate in the AHL. The defenseman  joined the team in the 2015-16 season. Recently, just like Kuznetsov, he had his contract renewed and will receive 30.6 million over the next six years.

Jakub Vrana was born in 1996 in the Czech Republic. With the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia emerged. Vrana, who was drafted as the 13th choice in 2013, has already proved to show great promise, slowly gaining space but already has great affection from the fans. He stood out last season in the brief time he was called. He is expected to have a bigger role with the Capitals this year,moving up from the Hershey Bears to play in the NHL

There are many more players waiting in the wings that could join the Caps over the next few years. There is no doubt that Russia and the former Soviet-states continue to influence the game of hockey in the United States.