Tradition. That’s what we have in the hockey world when the season ends – whether the exit is from the regular season or the playoffs. So what do the Capitals’ players do? We can tell you they have some pretty set routines- with the exception of 2018.
For some it is about golf, or maybe watching other sports like soccer; some play more hockey, while others start conditioning for the next season. With the crazy long schedules hockey players have the summer is a time to travel home and reconnect with family and friends. Of course there is hockey with development camp and training camp and Caps Fan Fest when players begin to migrate back to the DC area.
Heading to the Golf Course
Those aren’t the words you want uttered about your team. Those are failure words. Teams drop their hockey bags and pick up golf bags and head to the green when their teams are out of the running for the Stanley Cup.
The Golf Advisor explains why hockey players are such avid golfers- it’s all in the swing. Golf is the perfect cross-over sport because the movements of sticking a tiny ball are similar to hitting a sliding puck. It has the added benefit of calming players down with the rhythm of play. It’s a good way to unwind during the season and also to take out frustration with the wack of the club on a small white ball.
To be fair, even after winning the Stanley Cup some of the Capitals, like TJ Oshie, participated in charity golf tournaments. That won’t be true for him this summer as he nurses a broken clavicle back to full strength so he can swing a hockey stick.
More Hockey More Hockey
The other big tradition is for NHL hockey players to join their national teams at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship Games. This year those games are in Slovenia and several Capitals players will be joining some of their NHL adversaries to play together. It’s always interesting to see Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin trying to be civil with one another as they play together for the Mother Land.
As of now, Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov are joining team Russia. According to CBS Sports, Jakub Vrana and Dmitrij Jaskin (both RFA’s) will join the Czech team. Andre Burakovsky declined an offer to play- he needs a new contract in the NHL and doesn’t want to risk injury during the offseason. Other players may join their home teams but for now only five Capitals are playing.
Oddly, Canada’s favorite NHL player, Sidney Crosby also declined an invite. Although he claims it is not due to injury, the decision is fueling speculation that something just isn’t right given his lack of scoring in the Penguins one round in the playoffs.
The Caps pack up their homes around the DMV and load up trucks and airplanes to go to their home of origin. Others relax in the warm waters of private beaches and luxury villas. Fans look on with just a touch of envy.
Each offseason we go on wedding and baby watch. That was especially true with the Ovechkin family last summer as we waited for the announcement that baby Sergei had arrived. This year the watch is for Dmitry and Varvara Orlov who are expecting their first child. Sometimes the Caps do a great job of hiding these personal events; however, with their social media presence fans find out in no time!
Maybe this is when the Ovechkin’s do one of those famous magazine shoots and we finally get to see the face of their little guy.
Planning for 2019/20
The end of the season becomes official with the annual NHL awards ceremonies. It all happens June 19 in Las Vegas. Nominations so far include Barry Trotz for coach of the year and Alex Ovechkin has won his eighth Rocket Richard trophy as the leading goal scorer in the League.
The NHL 2019 Draft will be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver from 21 to 22 June. The draft order is not yet available as it could change with any deals in the works.
Free Agency begins 1 July and is a complex process that depends on contract status, ages, and years in the NHL. Last season the Capitals made few changes to their lineup. This summer that could be different as they look to move some less productive players, acquire some more physical players, and stack the deck for some hefty contracts in 2020 and 2021– like new deals for Ovechkin and Backstrom and Holtby.
Development Camp is held at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, and typically occurs in the last week of June/first week of July. It’s a great time to see the newest players and some of the AHL and ECHL players hoping to land spots on the roster or just contract offers.
Caps Fan Fest happens at this time. It’s a good opportunity for friends and fans to gather and talk about the previous season and plan for the upcoming season. There are games and scrimmages to entertain fans. For season ticket holders, it’s a premium chance to buy used player equipment from jerseys to sticks. Then they open it up to the general public to pick through what remains.
Training Camp signals the return of The Capitals to MedStar as well as a majority of the Hershey Bears. Camp begins in mid-September and goes through the preseason. It is similar to development camp in that Bears players are showing the best of their skills as they compete for spots. All the goalies should be here and coaches will be looking again at the number two spot for the Caps as well as the two goaltender positions in Hershey.
Around and About
One never knows what news will break over the summer. A surprise wedding. A new house. An unexpected trade or contract extension. Whatever it is, rest assured that FiCP will keep you informed. Follow our blog, or Twitter and Facebook for updates!