We have this theory that once someone puts on a red jersey he is always part of the Washington Capitals family. And when it comes to Free Agency, we are always interested in how our guys are taken care of around the league. So we thought we would give a rundown on who went where and when we might see them again in DC. Continue reading “Free Agency Deals, Moves, and News About Former Capitals”
NHL Trade deadline has ended any Washington Capitals sit tight while other teams make some big changes.
…Meanwhile, other teams grabbed up some opportunities to improve their chances in the playoffs.
Trade time is never fun to go through. Players get pulled from practice and sent off to another team overnight. Some are placed on waivers only to find themselves in the AHL. A few lucky ones are picked up by teams who see their potential as a player and as a turning point for the team. Continue reading “Capitals Do Nothing at Trade Deadline to Change it Up…”
The NHL announced the full list of players heading to Florida for the All Star Game 27 and 28 January. Despite heavy lobbying, John Carlson was overlooked. He is listed as a potential replacement should someone become injured or unable to attend. That’s how Kuzy made it last time so who knows….
Former Cap Mike Green will be going for the second time in his career.
Congrats to Coach Trotz, Alex Ovechkin, and Braden Holtby.
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.
Alex (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.
Mike 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.
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.
Summer is the time for hockey weddings!!
The Ovechkin wedding wasn’t the only big news this weekend. Former Washington Capitals player Brooks Laich married his love, Julianne Hough. They were married in Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Former Caps photographer, Cheryl Nichols ran into another former Cap, Mike Green, who was there for the wedding. Continue reading “Brooks Laich and His Jules Tie the Knot”
Now that the NHL has released the complete list of players who will be protected from the expansion draft, we can also see who is up for grabs. We were a bit surprised by the number of former Washington Capitals’ players on the availbe list and equally surprised to see some who were protected.
Here are some of the notable former Caps players up for grabs should general manager George McPhee (GMGM) decide to rely on some picks from his past:
Jeff Schultz – Ducks
Troy Brouwer – Flames
Michael Latta – Blackhawks
Cody Eakin – Stars
Justin Peters – Stars
Matt Hendricks – Oilers
Jaromir Jagr – Panthers
Mike Ribeiro – Predators
Jason Chimera – Islanders
Jaoslav Halak – Islanders
Michal Neuvirth – Flyers
Joe Ward – Sharks
Eric Fehr – Maple Leafs
Brooks Laich – Maple Leafs
Steve Oleksy – Maple Leafs
Latta, Eakin, and Olesky are among the youngest players on that list. Latta has been playing in the AHL for the past season, with some pretty good success. Eakin’s performance took a bit of a dive last season with only 12 points compared to an average of 36 points the previous three seasons. Olesky also spent last season back in the AHL. He has been a pretty solid player in the AHL but hasn’t made a full-time NHL roster yet.
And those protected:
Semyon Varlamov – Avalanche
Mike Green – Red Wings
Filip Forsberg – Predators
Connor Carrick – Maple Leafs
Mathieu Perreault – Jets
We were pretty surprised to see Varly on this list given his history of injuries, including hip surgery in January that ended the 2016/17 season for him. We were equally surprised about Green. His stats haven’t shown much improvement with the Wild, although he has been one of the Wild’s best offensive defensemen. Forsberg is no surprise. We’ll just leave it at that! Same goes for Carrick who looks to have a bright future in the NHL.
GMGM has his work cut out for him over the next couple of days. With the complete lists of available players out now, he certainly has a wide range of talented players from which to pick. And then there is the negotiating for future first round spots in the draft and we all remember what a pro his is a negotiating.
And in case you were wondering – here is the complete list of protected and available players for the Caps.
Nicklas Backstrom (F)
Andre Burakovsky (F)
Lars Eller (F)
Marcus Johansson (F)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (F)
Alex Ovechkin (F)
Tom Wilson (F)
John Carlson (D)
Matt Niskanen (D)
Dmitry Orlov (D)
Braden Holtby (G)
Jay Beagle (F)
Chris Bourque (F)
Paul Carey (F)
Brett Connolly (F)
Stanislav Galiev (F)
Tyler Graovac (F)
Garrett Mitchell (F)
Liam O’Brien (F)
T.J. Oshie (F)
Zach Sill (F)
Chandler Stephenson (F)
Christian Thomas (F)
Nathan Walker (F)
Justin Williams (F)
Daniel Winnik (F)
Karl Alzner (D)
Taylor Chorney (D)
Cody Corbett (D)
Darren Dietz (D)
Christian Djoos (D)
Tom Gilbert (D)
Aaron Ness (D)
Brooks Orpik (D)
Nate Schmidt (D)
Kevin Shattenkirk (D)
Pheonix Copley (G)
Philipp Grubauer (G)
Every time the Caps fail to make it past Round Two of the NHL playoffs, the call for the coach’s head can’t be far away. This season is no different as we have begun to see the tweets in favor of replacing Barry Trotz are building as frustration is replacing tears and anger.
So let’s look back a few years on the Ovechkin Era and see what’s been going on. Ovi signed with the Caps in 2004 right before the 2004/05 season lockout. It was a pivotal time for the Washington Capitals. At that time George McPhee was general manager (GMGM) and Glen Hanlon was coach. Hanlon had been coaching the team since 2003 when he was promoted as assistant coach and replaced Bruce Cassidy. Hanlon had played in the league himself from 1977 to 1991; however, he was never on a Cup winning team. His stint as coach was memorable only for his losses and the sense of defeat the fans felt as the result of his coaching.
That takes us to Bruce Boudreau. He too had played in the league. He; however, had no NHL coaching experience. What he did have was a winning record with the AHL affiliate team, the Hershey Bears. After seven years he took the team all the way to win the Calder Cup in 2006. The hope was that he would bring the winning skill he demonstrated in Hershey to Washington. Fans were pretty excited with this change and hope seemed to be all around the team. With Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green—The Young Guns—the Caps were primed for lifting the Cup.
Or so we thought.
BB would quickly become part of the “Building America’s Hockey Capital” strategy of owner Ted Leonsis. It was a pretty remarkable time for the Caps. He helped them win the Presidents’ Trophy in 2009. He gained notoriety as the “F-bomb coach” when HBO followed him around during the Caps first Winter Classic against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a game that would excite Caps fans and dismay Pens fans as the Sidney Crosby hit and subsequent concussion would haunt the team ever after. He was a staple in the hockey world and fans adored him almost to the end. By the time he left Bruce posted a 201-88-40 in 329 regular season games. He was also the fastest coach to record 200 regular season wins. Unfortunately, he could never get the Caps past the second round of the playoffs either. He gradually lost the confidence of the team and the fan base resulting in his rather abrupt firing.
It was all over by November 2011 when the Caps fired Broudeau and made one of the worst hiring decisions bringing in former Capitals’ superstar Dale Hunter, owner of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights. Hunter played for the Capitals from 1987 to 1999. Hunter made it clear when he arrived that he was no fan of Ovechkin, probably believing the press that Ovi had become disrespectful toward his coach and needed rewiring. The excitement for Hunter was brief. He had almost tasted the thrill of victory as a player with the Colorado Avalanche but still did not know how to lead a team past the final. After a dismal season (six months of coaching) with the Caps once again not making it past the semi-finals, Hunter decided he was better suited with the Knights and folded tent to head home.
Hunter’s departure led to the Caps second disaster in this time frame; the hiring of another former player, Adam Oates. Oates was a former assistant coach for Tampa Bay Lightning and part of the NJ Devils team (assistant coach) that made it to the Stanley Cup final in 2012, which the LA Kings won. Although he had not yet served as a head coach, he at least had the experience of working with a team that made it to the finals. And he was a Hall of Famer. What could go wrong??? Well things started bumpy with the 2012/13 NHL lockout, which led to a shortened first season. It looked hopeful for the team until they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. His second full season fell apart as he lost the locker room early and he lost the confidence of his star players, most notably Ovechkin. (Que the Ovi fires coaches rumors). He quickly lost the support of the fan base that loved him as a player. This discontent ultimately led to the Caps failure to make it to the playoffs. In the end, the Caps declined to continue their relationship with Oates and released him from his contract.
And as a side note, they also released GM George McPhee. He was after all, the guy who brought in all the losing coaches. Although he was also responsible for bringing on some of the strongest players in the league, he was unable to create the right mix for a Stanley Cup winning team. He came close though in his first year, 1998, when the Caps went all the way to the finals—for the last time. It was time for a major shakeup and many long-time followers of the Capitals had mixed feelings about letting go of GMGM. Like Bruce, he was well liked in the community.
Which brings us to the Capitals current coach, Barry Trotz. He never played hockey in the NHL, often saying he wasn’t good enough. He began his NHL coaching career with the Nashville Predators in 1997 as part of the new expansion team. He earned a positive reputation as a coach, a winning coach who also never took his team past the second round of the playoffs. He failed to bring them to the playoffs in his last two seasons in Nashville. As a result, the Preds released him in April 2014 which opened the door for the Caps to bring him into the fold a month later. There were mixed reviews about the Caps hiring him, but there was also a sense that he could be the guy to have some success in the latest round of “rebuild.” He has worked well with the team, never afraid to do the unexpected as he adjusted lines, sat under-performing players, and was not phased by the Ovi hype but looks at the team as a whole. Clearly he was disappointed after the Caps were knocked out of the playoffs for the third time under his leadership. He built real cohesion and friendships on the team, the likes of which we have never seen. There were mentors and a real dependence on each other, on and off the ice. However, all the changes and growth were not enough to give the team the confidence and steam to push past round two. Clearly he knows how to get the team to the playoffs but he hasn’t proven an ability to make it all the way. All that said, there is no sense from the players that they have lost confidence in him. He has created a new culture, but that culture will change with all the moving pieces and trades likely to occur over the summer.
In the weeks ahead the Capitals management will be taking a good look at what worked and what didn’t. Bloggers and sports writers will assess players and argue about the weakest links. If Trotz stays, he will keep working with GM Brian MacLellan to develop a new strategy and together they will work to create a new team that can go all the way. They have already made some positive changes overall on behalf of the team—creating a healthy environment and a place where young players can develop their craft. The team is closer than ever and it is a waiting game to see who stays and who goes and what that means for the next season.
In the end, the biggest downfall with GMGM’s hiring practice was the mistake in not hiring a coach with NHL Stanley Cup experience. The ongoing problem is that the Caps have never hired someone who coached a team and won the Stanley Cup. Close enough is not necessarily good enough. As much as we believe in what Barry Trotz has tried to accomplish with this team, his record speaks for itself. If the Caps stay with Trotz one more season, he needs to not just coach the team to the finals but win the Cup. If management is unsure of his ability to do that, we strongly urge them to consider hiring a coach with the actual experience of “rebuilding” a team that has won the Cup. We know who we would suggest at this point were the Caps to make a change today…
Bottom line: fans don’t just want another season of making it to the playoffs, or even making it to the final round. WE WANT TO BRING THE CUP HOME!! And we want them to do whatever it takes to make that a reality next season. We are past the ‘rebuilding’ promises and are ready for a positive outcome.
It only took 54 minutes before the Washington Capitals would get on the board during the Cap-Wings game on Friday night. Neither team had a great night. It would end with Braden Holtby, a shutout, and three players sitting in the locker room nursing injuries.
We start with old friend Mike Green (25) who had a few moments with Alex Ovechkin. After the game Mike even met with some friends from his days as a Cap’s player.
Tom Wilson, TJ Oshie, Lars Eller, and Andre Burakovsky all went down the tunnel before the end of the second period. Wilson returned. Oshie and Eller are out for a bit. Burakovsky skated at practice on Saturday and looked to be ok.
There was only one goal and that’s all that we really needed. Jay Beagle saved the day!!
Here are the rest of our shots from the game.
First the Caps:
And a little gallery for Red Wings fans…
All Hail the HOLTBEAST and his first shutout this year!
Photos by Mel Abernethy
We all have our hockey story and FiCP Contributor Chris Cleveland is no different. His story is pretty cool—how he came to meet former Caps player, Mike Green. As Chris tells it:
One of our old neighbors knew like all the Caps players. One day during the 2010 Olympics, it was snowing and I was outside shooting pucks on the street. We had a fairly empty street so you could stick the hockey net pretty much anywhere. Greenie, who was snubbed by Team Canada, was inside my neighbor’s house watching Team USA blowout Finland (or some team). Continue reading “Chris Cleveland Meets Mike Green, and More Stories”
Don’t forget game time is late tonight: 7:30 puck drop.
Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson both took take practice today so it looks like Alzner will continue his consecutive game-playing streak. Although it was only a “morning skate” the team was working hard on their drills in prep for tonight’s match-up. Players were in good moods as some of the dads watched from the balcony. The boys always seem a bit more inspired when their dads are in town. Let’s hope they bring us a win.
Caps Driving Forward
The Washington Caps hope to get back in the win column tonight and will be energetic and powerful as they face each other for the third time this season. Both teams are in second place in their division with the Caps leading the Wings in overall regulation wins. We can expect another hard hitting game that probably will come down to goalie stamina.
What Detroit Brings
Center Brad Richards has returned from back surgery and finally broke a scoring drought against Nashville on Saturday. They’ve been 6-0-2 since his return so scoring or not, he seems to be bringing some charm to the team.
Former Caps player and community leader, Mike Green returns to the phone book tonight. Don’t look for the 52 on his sweater though; his new number is 25. Clever eh? Read our article on Greenie Here .
Henrick Zetterberg (40) leads the Red Wings in points with 49 assists and 17 goals.
Never underestimate what Pavel Datsyuk (13) brings to the game. Even though he was hanging out with this Russian countrymen yesterday, he will be all about winning the game once he laces up. He comes into the game with 26 goals and 39 assists (65 points), scoring 2 goals and 3 assists in the last 10 days.
Don’t forget to check us out on Instagram (friendsincoldplaces) for more pictures from this morning.
What to Watch for Tonight:
Justin Williams: One point to go to reach 600 career HNL points.
John Carlson: One goal away from 50 career NHL goals.
Marcus Johansson: One point away from 200 total NHL points.