Capitals Return: Officially 14 September

We’re excited!! Some of the Capitals and Prospects are working out in the early morning hours at Ketter Ice Plex in Arlington. However, they will officially return to work and training camp on 14 September–on the ice the 15th. This is when we will see how their summer workouts have gone and which rookie might get the nod for a regular slot on the roster.

In the meantime – players like John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and NJ Devils Marcus Johansson, are skating and getting their ice legs back. Today Ovi’s personal trainer was there to observe and work with Alex.

Also, Scott Murray – the new goalie coach and Barry Trotz were in the house. Murray working with Vitek Vaneck who is up from Hershey.

This is a great time for the guys to just practice some hockey while having a fun time. We hear the Kuzy has been quite the prankster – hiding Vaneck’s helmet and stick.

Also attending the impromptu skate are Jonas Siegenthaler, Sam Anas (Minnesota Wild prospect and Maryland native), and previously Philipp Grubauer and Braden Holtby.

Mojo was invited by Carly to join the skate as he packs up his house for the move to Jersey. We have to say we had mixed emotions seeing him on the ice…

 

 

Capitals Summer Winding Down

Players are gradually returning home after the summer break. Some are looking pretty buff and despite vacations, most have obviously been working out.

It has been a busy summer for the Capitals franchise, from new contracts to big weddings, and great trips. Here is a little look at what they shared with the world on social media during the offseason.

Weddings!


Can anything top the celebration of their marriage than the Ovechkin wedding extravaganza? The two-day celebration brought family and friends together to wish the Alex and Nastya all the best in their new life as husband and wife.


Brett Connolly and long-time girlfriend Katrina Kim tied the knot in Niagara Falls with a few close friends, including Tom Wilson and his GF Taylor, the Winniks, the Holtbys and Alzners.


Former Caps player Brooks Laich and the lovely Julianne Hough were married in an outdoor ceremony in Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. They then went on a two-week honeymoon that included a safari!

Best wish to all the couples!!

Vaca

There is no disputing that hockey players have some of they best vacations – and yes, we are slightly envious.

Italy was a popular spot as the Orlov’s and Philipp Grubauer spent time there. The Orlov’s again vacationed with their good friends the Bobrovskys.


Grubi in Greece:


Kuzy spent time home in Chelyabinsk in addition to attending Ovi’s wedding. Backstrom and Burakovsky shared training videos as they conditioned for the coming season. Nicky even had some coming lessons.  Burky popped back to Virginia for a few days to take in the mountains with his mom. Even Ovi showed off some of his workout routines.

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https://instagram.com/p/BXFUw_WAGnC/

And he got some new ink: img_1211

Tom Wilson hung out with his girlfriend Taylor Pischke while she traveled overseas for volleyballs tournaments. And he worked out with old roomie, Michael Latta.

Changes

Two other notable changes this summer. Goalie Coach Mitch Korn has stepped down from his duties as primary goaltender coach with Hershey Bears coach Scott Murray joining the team. Additionally, Verizon Center is no more. Signs are slowly going in for the new Capital One Arena.

New Contracts

It was the summer of making the right deals to keep players the Capitals felt would best help them to advance in the coming season. Those who inked new deals included:

TJ Oshie – eight years, 46 M
Evgeny Kuznetsov – eight years, 62.4 M
Dmitry Orlov – six years, 30.6 M
Brett Connolly – two years 3 M
Andre Burkovsky – two years, 6 M
Philipp Grubauer – one year, 1.5 M

And the newly added right winger Devante Smith-Pelly signed on with the Caps for one year agreement at $650,000.

Saying Goodbye

We had to say goodbye to:

Nate Schmidt who went to the Vegas Golden Knights
Karl Alzner to Montreal Canadiens
Marcus Johansson – New Jersey Devils
Kevin Shattenkirk – NY Rangers
Justin Williams – Carolina Hurricanes
Dan Winnik – no new contract

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Finally, we offer our condolences to Alex and Nastya Ovehkin on the loss of Nastya’s mother in early August. It was a bless that she was able to attend their wedding celebration and she will be missed by her family and the nation of Russia. Vera Glagoleva was a popular actress and distinguished movie director.

Looking ahead,  Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov, Grubauer, Johansen, Hobbs, Siegenthaler, Vanecek and Anas, are participating in the annual pre-camp informal skate at Kettler. Even Marcus Johansson showed up, although his is now  NJ Devil. Thanks to Tarik for keeping us informed. We’ll be back at it later this week as we end ours summer pause.

Our Thanks to Jill Sorenson

We met Jill Sorenson through the Caps Fan Club. She had come to speak to a group of die-hard Caps fans about the 2015/16 season and the skinny on players. She shared her personal stories about covering DC Sports since 2000, when she worked with legend  NBC’s George Michael. She graciously agreed to meet with us as we were launching this blog and was one of our first, and favorite, interviews of all times. Jill’s story continues to be read by fans month after month, even though the interview was in December 2015.

Today she confirmed what had been only rumored last week. CSN has decided not to continue their relationship with her. We are saddened and angered by the decision. As are many fans and others who cover the Washington Capitals.

Jill became a grand supporter of our little endeavor, understanding what it is like to be the new kid on the block and to be women working in a predominately man’s world of sports coverage. She encouraged us to keep going, even when we might have to fight for our place. She told us to be ourselves and cover the Caps in a way that is natural for us.

img_6293She then introduced us to other women in the hockey world – bloggers and players. Over the years since we first met, she always greeted us warmly and supported us on Twitter as we continued to carve out our niche of three women running a hockey blog which expanded to include a couple of guys and a few other women who write when they can.

And then there is the Jill who we watched provide insight into the lives of the Washington Capitals. Her stories were heart-felt and full of mutual respect as players opened up their homes and their personal lives to her. And you could see the respect she had from many of her co-workers at CSN and around Kettler and Verizon Center. Our hope is that she will land on a local network where she can continue to interview players and interact with fans as she has for so many years at CSN.

We can’t say enough about this wonderful lady. We wish her, and her family, nothing but the best. We so greatly appreciate the doors you opened to us Jill and the friendships (Wendy) we have made because of you. We can’t wait to see you back on the air, doing what you do best – covering DC Sports!!

Maggie, Brittney, and Mel

May there always be work for your hands to do
May your purse always hold a coin or two; 
May the sun always shine on your windowpane; 
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain; 
May the hand of a friend always be near you; 
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Every NHL Equipment Question You Have, Answered.


Have you ever asked:

  • What stick does each player on your favorite NHL team use?
  • What’s the most popular stick brand and model among NHL centers? Goalies?
  • What sticks do the top scorers in the league use?

Our friends at ProStockHockey introduced us to a great new database that can answer questions like those for you. If you are interested, your next stop should be www.GearGeek.com, the world’s first online database of NHL equipment. Recently launched, the site has more than 3,500 equipment items used by all 700-plus active NHL players. You can slice and dice the information just about any way you want, and see the results within a couple of seconds.

It’s the NHL gear fan’s paradise — and one that has been much in demand, since previously it has been quite difficult to get accurate and comprehensive information about player equipment. GearGeek updates its site daily so fans can keep track of equipment changes players make during the season.

Did you know that Alexander Ovechkin uses a Bauer Supreme 1S stick while Sid Crosby uses aCCM Ribcor Reckoner. Both shoot left so you have to wonder if the stick makes the difference in performance?  

Specific pieces of equipment GearGeek monitors include sticks, gloves, pants, skates, helmets, blockers, pads and masks. The site also details player stats for the past/current season. It’s free to use and requires no registration or login. It’s a highly “bookmark-able” site for any hockey player or fan who enjoys being in the know about pro equipment.

We recommend hockey players and hockey watchers give them a look. Bloggers, you might just find some extra info to add to your stories!!

 

This Season Must be a Tough one for the Metro Division

Many teams playing in the Metropolitan Division have been doing well building their teams since last season. In addition, the first two draft picks were from teams in this division, which may reflect a great season for its teams and, consequently, unpredictability for the division title and classification for the playoffs. Now let’s look at each team and what we can expect for the season:

Carolina Hurricanes: Cam Ward, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Trevor van Riemsdyk will also have the experienced Justin Williams, former Capitals and three times Stanley Cup champion; one with the Canes and two with the Los Angeles Kings. And they have a new goalie, Scott Darling, acquired from Chicago. They were in the seventh penultimate position in the Metro and 21st overall in the league. And they were eight points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs who took the Wild Card spot.

Columbus Blue Jackets: The team was one of the big highlights in the last regular season, ranking third in the division and fourth overall. The team from Ohio which already has Sergei Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson and Brandon Bubisnky will also feature Artemi Panarim, who came from the Chicago Blackhawks.

New Jersey Devils: Taking the last place in the division / conference and 27th overall in the league, the franchise has won the draft lottery and now has rookie Nico Hischier, who will play alongside players like goaltender Corey Schneider, Tylor Hall, Adam Henry, Brian Boyle and former Caps Marcus Johansson. The Devils finished the last season with 70 points and can use the boost Johansson could bring.

New York Islanders: The team led by John Tavares, Jaroslav Halak, Johnny Boychuck and former Caps Jason Chimera almost qualified for the playoffs, with 94 points, just one point behind Maple Leafs, which has been qualified with the second and last Wild Card spot. One key change is a new goalie coach, ChrisTerreri, who coached the likes of Devils legend, Martin Brodeur.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, Brendan Smith are names that don’t need introductions. The team reached the semi-final of the Eastern Conference, being eliminated by the Ottawa Senators in six games. The team has lost Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta and Dan Girardi during the offseason, but signed defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (who played with Capitals during playoffs).

Philadelphia Flyers: The team that finished the regular season with 88 points, fighting in the final rounds for the hope of a place in the playoffs, has got the second draft pick. Rookie Nolan Patrick will certainly contribute the team alongside names like Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Shayne Gotisbehere and Valtteri Filppula.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Caps greatest rival has won two consecutive Stanley Cups (2016 and 2017), both defeating the Caps in the conference semi-final. Also in both times, the Penguins maintained names like Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang among others. The team lost goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to the Vegas Golden Knights, but Matt Murray is ready and able to replace Flower. As the Penguins maintain a good base for the two-time consecutive team, they will certainly be a strong team to face in an already talented Metro Division.

Washington Capitals: The Caps have won two consecutive Presidents’ Trophies, but both times they were eliminated by their greatest rival, the Penguins. The team led by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Braden Holtby, John Carlson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky can count on a more effective participation with younger players like Jakub Vrana. Vrana has been standing out  and could gain a permanent spot on the team this season. At least many Caps fans are hoping he will. However, the team lost names like Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson and Kevin Shattenkirk, but the remaining roster and the new additions will be able to keep the Capitals in contender status.

Featured image by sportspresscom

Justin Williams: Just What the Carolina Hurricanes Need?

williams canes cup

Once upon a time, the Carolina Hurricanes hoisted the Stanley Cup in victory. The year was 2006 and Justin Williams (former Capitals and LA Kings forward) was an integral part of the winning strategy for the team. It would be his first Game Seven win, with a shot into the empty net of the Edmonton Oilers.

Only one other player from the winning team remains on the current roster. Cam Ward was a rookie goalie at the time, having only played 28 games in the NHL. He was later awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in the playoffs. Unfortunately, his stats have decreased over time and newly acquired Scott Darling is likely to be in the number one spot this season.

So what does Williams bring? The Washington Capitals have nothing but good things to say about his locker room presence as well as his tenacity on the ice. When he entered free agency he is reported to have said: “I want to go to a team that has a chance to win.” The Hurricanes need someone with the kind of determination J-Will has to bring his leadership from the locker room to the ice. At 35, he has a world of experience to share with his teammates – including what it is like to win three Stanley Cups and to play on a team that couldn’t get past themselves in the second round.

Returning to his former home “Stick” has said, “I want to be an impact player for a long time and I plan on being one the next couple years as well.” The veteran player has that potential with a relatively young group of players on the Hurricanes. He really is looking forward to his time (two years) in Raleigh saying: “You just want to help guide as best you can, because you know what it takes, and you know what works and what doesn’t, a lot of the time.” Williams, who had one of his best goal-scoring years since leaving Carolina, recorded 24 goals and 24 assists last season. He continued to be a force in the playoffs for the Caps, with one game-winning goal.

On a personal note, Justin will be joined by his wife Kelly and two children Jade and Jaxon. They are his pride and joy! Jaxon has been seen skating at Kettler Ice Rink in Virginia and will likely continue his training with dad in Raleigh. Born in Cobourg, Ontario, Williams in June 2017 became a naturalized US citizen having lived in the US since he was 16. He hosts an annual camp back in Cobourg and is active in raising funds for disadvantaged children to play hockey. The Williams family will be a great asset for Raleigh and The Research Triangle.

The Phone Booth is No More: Caps Fans Have Suggestions for New Nicknames

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Monumental Sports made it official today: Verizon Center is gone and the naming rights have been granted to Capital One. Rumors started swirling last week that the change was coming and all the paperwork was signed today. Capital One Arena will continue as a concert venue and host games for “Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics, Washington Valor, Washington Wizards and Georgetown men’s basketball,” according to the press release. New signs should be up this fall –maybe in time for Caps opening day.

For old-time fans, it may seem like we are going back in time. When the Capitals came on the scene in 1974 they played at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Also known as the “Cap Centre” we can see many fans gravitating toward “Caps Arena” or back to “Cap Centre” as we all get used to the name.

The Cap Centre housed the Capitals until Abe Pollin had the vision to brings sports and new life to the heart of Washington DC with the construction of the MCI Center which opened in 1997. It has been home to the Wizards and Capitals ever since.  Abe later added the Mystics to teams calling MCI Center/Verizon Center home.  It has been known as Verizon Center since 2006.

That said, there are all kinds of new nicknames floating around:

The ATM:  Cause you know there will be more in the arena now!

The Wallet: Never come here without one full of cards or cash!

The Loan Booth: ’cause some of us need a loan to keep our season tickets these days.

The Vault: Because we have so much money locked up in the place every season.

The Money Pit:  Since we have some much money locked up in the place every season–and nothing to show for it.

And still others had some not so grand thoughts on the matter…

Well, you get the idea. Fans JUST WANT THE CUP!!! 

Also hidden in the fine print of today’s announcement are details about a new pricing and paying system:

This summer, MSE also plans to move to a new point of sale system — which will be a great first step toward faster lines and additional payment options for fans, as well as better analytics and data that will allow MSE to better tailor the arena experience to each fan.  The new point of sale system will also enable MSE to offer Capital One cardholders automated discounts on food, beverage, merchandise and more.

Let’s hope part of the improvement includes better WiFi connectivity!!

Washington Capitals Fan Club: Keeping Caps Friends Together

The Washington Capitals have a great group supporting them, on and off the ice. The Fan Club has been around since 1975, almost from the Caps beginning in 1974; developing interest in the team by connecting fans through organized events including road trips, membership meetings with media, and happenings during the off season. In addition, the Fan Club has a rich history of fund raising and donating to charity organizations, which is one of the reasons we love this group!

During the season, the Fan Club hosts monthly meetings with notable speakers like CSN’s Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and Caps TV personalities JoeB and Locker or Capitals Alumni Hall of Famer, Rod Langway. They provide many opportunities for fans to interact with the people behind the scenes that most only see on their TVs, like the on-ice officials. They keep us linked with the broader NHL hockey community by hosting visiting booster clubs and connecting with them on road trips. And while we are talking about road trips – they have several planned each year. Some members even travel in groups to the All Star Game and the NHL draft. Be sure to check out the web page for planned trips, including visiting the Hershey Bears, during the 2017/18 season.

  • And let us not forget their presence at Kettler Ice Plex. Have you seen those banners hanging over the Capitals Ice Plex? Those are compliments of the Fan Club. There is a core group—the Caps Practice Pack—that shows up nearly every day for practice. We analyze players performance and postulate who is in and who is out.

They aren’t content to just meet up during the season; they also make sure we join together during the off season. One of our favorite and fun events is the annual Nats Baseball Game.

This year they are hosting a special wine tasting event in McLean, Virginia for friends to meetup and catch up.  All this designed to keep the sense of community alive. After all, the Fan Club is more than scheduled gatherings. Many lovely friendships, and even romantic relationships, have grown out of these times together.

karl signing ballAs we said, the Fan Club is one of our favorite organizations because of their charitable giving. This past season, they (and you) donated over $12,000 to excellent charities. One special event is the annual fundraiser that includes bidding on Christmas balls signed by the players. All their events led to the Fan Club sending over $10,000 to Fort Dupont this season for their Kids on Ice Hockey Program which “focuses on providing increased opportunity, education, and inspiration to the young people of the DC area through ice skating & educational activities.” Fans also join other fans during the summer to help with the Caps Cares rejuvenation day to spruce up the rink area for the coming season.

  • In addition to this great holiday-focused giving, the Fan Club honors players for shut-outs, hat tricks, first goals, and other milestones. They honor the players by giving to their designated charities, including Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the Alzheimer’s Association, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and other children’s programs.

Stop by the Fan Club Table this season to renew or initiate your membership. And during the year, stop and vote for your favorite player of the month. Donations are then made in their name to Fort Dupont or the player’s favorite charity.

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If you are new to the Caps Family, this is the perfect way to become part of an active community. If you have been around a while, it’s a great place to share stories about the old days. And if you are already a member, invite a friend to check out their events as your guest. There is always room for more friends!

Check out their home page for all the details on the Capitals Fan Club. The Committee and Board Members work hard to make this a GR8 community with something for everyone. Come for the fun and leave with some new friends!!