Dmitry Orlov

Photo credit: Kyle M.

It was over 30 minutes past the scheduled end of his practice session, but Dmitry Orlov simply did not want to leave the ice. With almost all of his teammates from Group C already in the locker room, the 20-year-old defenseman had the secondary rink at Kettler Capitals Iceplex all to himself, effortlessly gliding around invisible opponents with the puck seemingly glued to his stick. Dima was clearly enjoying the moment.

Group C included such standout blueliners as Roman Hamrlik, an NHL veteran of almost two decades, and John Carlson, not much older than Dmitry, but already recognized as one of the top young rearguards in the league. The young Russian appeared to be unfazed by such company. Every time the players gathered around a member of the coaching staff to receive instruction, Dima took his spot, usually in the front row of the huddle, and listened and watched very intently. He no longer relies on anyone’s help in order to understand — a very timely improvement in his command of the English language — as all of his Russian-speaking teammates were assigned to Group A.

Having finally completed his puck-dangling routine, Dima finally went off into the locker room, but not before he patiently signed autographs for a small group of his fans waiting for him rink side. A few minutes later he made his way into the media area — by then completely empty, aside from a couple of reporters finishing up their stories — and spoke candidly with RMNB about his improving English, participating in shootouts, and his first and only fight.

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Mark French

Photo credit: Hershey Bears Facebook Page

In early February, when Metallurg Novokuznetsk failed to reach the KHL playoffs, Dmitry Orlov worked out a deal with the team’s management. Instead of being sent down to the MHL to play for Metallurg’s affiliate during their playoff run, Orlov started his professional career in the Capitals’ organization to work towards his goal of becoming an NHL player.

He flew to America, and made his AHL debut with the Bears on February 27th. That night, Dima registered an assist, spent time on the power play, and had a first period so solid that Tim Leone called it “the best first 20 minutes from a 19-year-old D I’ve ever seen in this league.”

Orlov went on to total nine points in the remaining 19 games of the AHL regular season, and he experienced his first ever AHL playoff series, a 4-2 series loss to the Charlotte Checkers.

The six-foot Novokuznetsk native is now back in DC, participating in his first ever NHL Training Camp. I caught up with Hershey Bears Head Coach Mark French — the same man who guided the Bears to an AHL record 60 wins and the team’s eleventh Calder Cup in 2010 — and asked him about Orlov’s rookie season, what he needs to improve to make the NHL, and if Dima has the potential to be a 20-goal scorer in the NHL.

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Video: Alex Semin Grilled in Interview with CSN

As the Alex Semin Promotional Tour™ continues, Comcast SportsNet aired its interview with Sasha Minor tonight and Jill Sorenson left no stone unturned in the gripping, Peabody-caliber exposé. “Are [your shoes] comfortable?” she asked. “Are you okay?” was another. And our favorite: “You gonna smile?” George McPhee even gave his two cents: “He cares.”

Click here to see the full photo. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

Tuesday’s Baltimore Hockey Classic may have been dampened — see what we did there? — by puddles, poor ice conditions, and a Predators win, but there was one high point. Midway through the second period, Alex Ovechkin skated down the ice before Preds’ defenseman Ryan Ellis tried to separate Ovi from the puck at the half wall. Ellis lost. Apparently, really bad.

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Gregg Mace’s Memories of Baltimore Hockey

Baltimore Hockey Classic Washington Capitals

The Baltimore Hockey Classic marks the return of hockey to Charm City for the first time in 20 years. The Capitals will host Nashville on Tuesday night at 1st Mariner Arena. Gregg Mace, Sports Director of abc27 WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, grew up in Baltimore and shares his special thoughts about the return of hockey to his hometown.

Here's some footage of a bench brawl between the Skipjacks and the Rochester Americans back in the old days.

Every hockey fan has a special story to tell. A story of how they became interested of this great game. Mine began in the mid 1960’s. As a seventh grader at Baltimore Friends School, I became an avid fan of the Baltimore Clippers, the first Baltimore team in the American Hockey League. The team played in what is now called 1st Mariner Arena. To me, it will always be the Baltimore Civic Center. When the building opened, the Baltimore Bullets (now Washington Wizards) and the Clippers were its prized tenants. The Clippers were just one of a handful of teams in the AHL, a far cry from its nationwide exsistance today.

My parents or grandparents would drive myself and my friends to nearly every game. Tickets in the 300 level were just $1.50. After the first period, we perfected the art of moving to an empty seat in the more expensive sections. The four rows behind the net cost just $4.00 each.

Younger fans will find this hard to believe, but there was chicken wire to protect the fans from the puck, not plexiglass. You could hear everything that was being said. There were no helmets and the Clippers had claim to the last goaltender to not wear a mask, Andy Brown.

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Old Man Knuble

Mike Knuble

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

A 24-year-old Mike Knuble, then a promising forward prospect, played nine games for the Detroit Red Wings during the 1996-97 season.

Players who were still playing during Knuble’s first season in the NHL include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Mark Messier, Dino Ciccarelli, Brian Leetch, Grant Fuhr, and Ron Hextall.

Just days after Knuble’s first game, Phil Collins announced that he was leaving Genesis to focus on his solo career, M.C. Hammer wasn’t yet bankrupt, and it would be months before The Daily Show debuts on Comedy Central.

I guess what I am trying to say is Knuble is old getting up there in years, but don’t tell him that.

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We set out a task, faithful users of the Russian Machine, to create birthday cards worthy of our gut-less (wait, did that sound bad?) leader. The only rules: use an inferior graphics program to make it.

What we avoided telling you again this year was that we didn’t have to follow the same rules. Above, is our Penguin-Pinata card for Ovi via RMNB illustrator, Rachel Cohen.

Meanwhile, you guys rocked this assignment harder than a Bruce Boudreau fitness test. Unfortunately, only one of you could win our grand prize: a RMNB t-shirt and a Mr. Big Bar. Cruise on past the jump to check out the gallery.

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By now, many of you have seen Mike Vogel’s brief English language interview with Alex Semin, which the Capitals released earlier this evening. For those of you who haven’t, here’s the video.

Semin, who avoids speaking to the press and conducts his rare interviews in Russian, responded to Matt Bradley’s comments over the summer: “I don’t worry about it. Different people have different opinions.” He also talked about being the longest-tenured Capital: “I’m getting old. I’d like to stay here 10 more years. I like to play here.”  And he even showed admiration for DC: “Washington’s my second home. We have good fans.” Awesome.

We here at RMNB are sticklers for the truth though. When the Caps promoted the interview, they said it was his first-ever English interview. Not so fast, guys!

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Caps Are Officially Back: Fitness Tests, Pies, and Sasha Cares

“Matt Bradley said what?!” (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

136 Days after the Capitals got swept out of the playoffs, the players were back on the ice on Saturday, ready for a new season.

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Alex Ovechkin will surely be getting a lot of presents on Saturday, his 26th birthday. Still, his teammates Brooks Laich and Nicklas Backstrom decided to give him a special gift by pie-ing him in the face not once but twice. I was on the scene with my camera and you can check out the frame-by-frame below.

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