RMNB’s Guide To Free Agency

Photo illustration by Ian Oland.

Guess what tomorrow is? That’s right! Canada Day!

It also happens to be NHL Free Agency, the wildest and kookiest hockey day of the year. The Capitals aren’t expected to make any world-shaking moves this year, but you never know. The spirit of capitalism can possess even the most level-headed of GMs and make them act like crazy people, so stay tuned here tomorrow while we update you on what’s going down. The Caps have a few holes to fill, a few free agents who will find new homes — and who knows, maybe McPhee will trade Backstrom for Jeff Skinner or something, and we’ll all have to drink ourselves into oblivion.

Anything is possible! But luckily, not everything is likely, so follow us below the jump for your Guide to Free Agency 2012.

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RMNB’s Favorite Memories of Alex Semin

Photo credit: Nick Laham

We’re saying goodbye to Alex Semin this weekend. After seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Sasha will become a free agent at noon on Sunday. Think of it as tribute to the man or maybe just as part of the grieving process, but we’ve rummaged through the archives and picked out our favorite Alex Semin moments on RMNB.

We hope that this little stroll through the recent history will help you say goodbye to Sasha Minor in the best way possible. Will you get misty-eyed? Maybe. Will you marvel at his preternatural hockey skills? It could happen. Will you shake your head incredulously? Yup, definitely that.

So pour yourself something with ice in it and let’s hop in the wayback machine.

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Goodbye, Alex Semin

Our site is named for Alex Ovechkin, but our soul belongs to Alex Semin.

For nearly a decade we’ve watched rapturously as Alex Semin did his thing. 200+ goals, 32 of them game-winners: the man they call Sasha has been an exemplar of hockey skill in Washington all along. His finesse puts him in company with some of the best ever to play the game. His ability to send a puck careening impossibly to a distant teammates should be studied at NASA. He’s a stoic pro, like The Shootist or maybe Batman. Yeah, let’s go with Batman. That’s cooler.

But now he’s leaving. After seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Alex Semin will test free agency this Sunday. Where he ends up is anyone’s guess; all we know for sure is that we’ll miss him.

We’ll miss the 54 points he put up this season and the possession dominance he brought along with him, but mostly we’ll just miss Weird Old Sasha Minor: the cigarette-smoking, English-non-speaking, offensive-zone-penalty-committing, bongo-playing lug we all learned to love.

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2011-12 Year-End Review: Slapshot


Photo credit: Mark Gail

Capitals mascot Slapshot delivered the goods again this year, skating the flag onto the ice every home game without ever once tripping (which is more than Dennis Wideman or Alex Semin can say). He defied Capitals tradition by not folding under the pressure, and he did it all while wearing a 20-pound mascot head. What a pro.

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2011-12 Year-End Review: John Erskine

Rob Carr

Photo credit: Rob Carr

What can we say about John Erskine, the forgotten man?

Sometimes bad seasons happen to good people. There, you have learned the meaning of life from hockey. Erskine took a step backwards in terms of development and role on the team, but we are rooting for him, because the Caps just wouldn’t be the same without that gap-toothed grin.

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Photo credit: The Daily Telegraph

Via Matias Strozyk of Elite Prospects, the Caps have decided to invite another undrafted player to Development Camp. After inviting Max Iafrate, the son of Al, they now wish to take a closer look at Australian (no, not Austrian) prospect Nathan Walker.

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Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta

Ever since Ron Wilson — the only coach to the take the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals — was dismissed after the 2001-02 season, George McPhee has consistently hired head coaches with no NHL experience, with varying degrees of success. While Bruce Cassidy (2002-03) and Glen Hanlon (2003-2007) put up a miserable 125-169-55 record after a combined five seasons, Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter had better luck, taking the Caps to the playoffs for five straight years and racking up a 231-111-47 record, the best five-year stretch in the history of the team.

Former Capitals captain Adam Oates, who was introduced to the media Wednesday, continues the trend and is the fifth straight hire without any previous experience as an NHL head coach. However, McPhee is confident that he found what he calls “a real difference maker.”

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Al Iafrate’s Son Max Invited To Caps Development Camp

Lost in yesterday’s Adam Oates news was another piece of nostalgia. As first reported by Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record, son of Caps’ legend Al Iafrate, Max, has been invited to the Capitals Development Camp being held from July 9th to July 14th.

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2011-12 Year-End Review: Joel Rechlicz


Photo credit: Kyle Mace at Sweetest Hockey on Earth

There are some players who didn’t get a chance to make an impact on the ice with the Caps this year, whether through limited opportunity, injury, or otherwise. That isn’t going to stop us from giving them a disproportionate amount of words, though, because we do what we want.

Joel Rechlicz only played three games with the Capitals this year, but he brought his larger-than-life presence with him, got us talking about his wooden sticks and his ambidextrous punching, and about the changing role of the pure enforcer in the NHL. We are a bit disappointed that we never got to see him fight, but it’s good to know that he is there should the need for violence ever arise.

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Video: Adam Oates Was Once On Nickelodeon’s GUTS

We would like to welcome our new coach in with all the respect and decorum that is owed a Hall-of-Fame player and former Capitals captain — by which we mean, posting videos of him on Nickelodeon’s “GUTS.”

For those of you whose middle school years were not in the mid-nineties, “GUTS” was a low-budget, action-competition show on Nickelodeon featuring kids facing off in a variety of athletic challenges, often assisted by guest stars. Adam Oates appeared on the show in 1994, dressed for action in a salmon sweatshirt tucked into high-waisted jeans.

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