During the penultimate game of the Capitals preseason, the team unveiled an elaborate new skycam suspended from the rafters. The fan reaction was swift and mostly negative, largely from fans in the upper deck whose views were impacted by the moving camera and its cables. On Sunday night, Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsisacknowledged the criticism in a blog post.
Not visible: the player with the puck. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
On Friday night, Verizon Center debuted its new “skycam,” the first such camera permanently installed at an NHL and NBA building. Now it appears the expensive device may not be so permanent. A CSN Washington spokesman told RMNB the camera will not be in place for the next Capitals home game. It received a deluge of criticism from fans.
“The product was being tested last night and is not scheduled to be used Sunday,” Brian Potter, the director of communications for the channel, said in an email. “It hasn’t yet been determined if it will be used further. Many factors will be considered, including feedback from fans.”
Save for Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom is the best player on the Washington Capitals – and it’s been that way for some time. Seeing him on crutches, then, after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery in late May was an unwelcome sight for Caps fans. On Wednesday, after four months of recovery, Backstrom practiced with his teammates for the first time since the operation — albeit in a non-contact jersey. Still, the star center who didn’t miss a game last season is likely to miss this year’s opener, though the a quicker return that some feared.
“There’s no timetable,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said when asked when Backstrom might get back into game action or lose the non-contact jersey. “Whenever he’s ready, he’s ready. I consider Nick a franchise player and you never put a franchise player at risk. When he’s ready, he’ll be ready. That will be determined by our medical staff, his doctor and more importantly, Nick himself.”
The Washington Capitals played in the final game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 27. The Caps lost that contest to the New York Islanders, but their Game 7 victory in Washington put an end to hockey at the Coliseum. It was a glorious moment. Six months later, the Islanders have left the brutalist circular abode behind, moving to the opulent Barclays Center in Brooklyn. After closing out the Coliseum, the Capitals got the chance to play one of the first games in the new place, beating the Isles 3-1 Monday night.
The differences between the two buildings are striking. While the old concrete blob featured notable amenities such as rat poop and a TV angle that seemed to be coming from St. Louis, the new barn has a bus elevator, which is a freaking elevator for buses.
“I’ve never been on a bus elevator,” Jay Beagle told RMNB. “At first we were kind of like, what’s going on here? And then we realized it was an elevator for a bus, so that was kind of cool.”
In July 2013, Andre Burakovsky, an 18-year-old Swede drafted earlier that year, joined the Capitals for the first time during the team’s annual development camp. Burakovsky, with his tenuous command of English and an unfamiliarity with peanut butter, was placed in the care of Tom Wilson to adjust to North America.
When Burakovsky made the Capitals roster full time at the end of last year, he went right back to Wilson, staying with the bruising Canadian forward and his roommate, center Michael Latta. While Wilson and Latta are inseparable, even during the offseason, they took time to take Burakovsky under their wing. The trio’s exploits provided continuous amusement to Caps fans with Twitter or Instagram accounts. That time, however, has come to an end.
Bill Simmons coined the term the “Tyson Zone,” which describes state of someone being so outrageous that nothing they do is surprising. Alex Ovechkin, who receives sheep for his birthday and sometimes has no idea how normal humans dress, certainly has a bit of that in him. We shouldn’t be that surprised, then, when Ovi and Mike Tyson are photographed in warm bro-hug/posed photo, which is exactly what happened Sunday afternoon at a Fanatics Authentic signing event at FedEx Field.
The day before training camp opened, Andi Lambert, the wife of Washington assistant coach Lane Lambert, died at the age of 45. She had spent the last 17 years battling a rare form of breast cancer. On Saturday, the entire Capitals team, along with members of the Nashville Predators, who Lambert previously coached for alongside Barry Trotz, went up to Ohio attend the funeral outside of Cleveland.
“I know it meant a lot for him for us to be there and support him and to remember Andi the way we all know her and love her,” Trotz said Sunday. “It just tells you the class of the people in this business.”
It turns out he can still be a bit of a sap. On Thursday, Wilson’s roommate, Michael Latta, shared a screenshot of their TV that revealed T-Wilz was watching Titanic, the epic romance staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, on repeat.
When the Capitals drafted Ilya Samsonov 22nd overall at last month’s NHL Draft, many people were surprised that the team, already stocked with goaltending talent, would select another netminder. In spite of conventional wisdom, the Capitals insisted that they always draft the best player available. In this case, Samsonov was the best player available.
“Our scouting staff as a whole, individually and as a whole, were more than happy to be able to call his name,” Capitals assistance general manager Ross Mahoney told reporters at the draft. “We’ve always talked in the past about trying to draft the best player that’s available to us and for sure we thought he was our best player that we could take with that pick, so we went ahead and took him.”
Despite a contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk that runs for three more years, the Capitals planned on Samsonov’s attending their development camp in July to work with goalie coach Mitch Korn.
“He has a contract, but we’ve had players in the past, some Russian players that we’ve drafted and they were able to come over,” Mahoney said. “We have tremendous confidence in our goalie coaches, being able to help this young man develop his game and bring it to a level that’ll get him to succeed in the NHL.”
That, however, never happened. While the Capitals first claimed Samsonov was missing camp due to a visa issue, he was actually attending Metallurg’s training camp as first reported by our own Ian Oland. Despite the mix-up, the Capitals didn’t purport to be concerned when they addressed the issue last week.
Saturday was the last day of the Capitals Development Camp and, subsequently, the team’s annual fanfest. Fans began jamming the rink around 8 am, eager to get a prime position for the weekend scrimmage and the team’s year-end equipment sale.
The event featured an autograph signing with new addition TJ Oshie, attracting a packed group of admirers. Despite the damp weather outside, the Caps hosted street hockey and moon bounce for little kids on the top deck of the parking garage. Indoors, thousands completely packed Kettler Capitals Iceplex to watch the team’s draft picks and the camp’s free agent invitees battle it out in a scrimmage, won by Team Red 7-3. During general manager Brian MacLellan’s press conference, one reporter brought up the possibility the event could be moved to a bigger venue.
“We’ve never thought about,” MacLellan said. “It’d probably be a good idea.”
Part of the reason the event has gotten so big is due to the camaraderie of Caps fans. On Saturday, a group of Caps fans who met on Tumblr got together to watch some hockey and see some of their favorite prospects in the flesh. The Papa Squad (named after Tom Wilson’s and Michael Latta’s nickname for Nicklas Backstrom) of Sydney, Victoria, Alexi, Taylor, etc gathered together to get take some selfies and some signature. Victoria even got the prospects to sign her TJ Yoshie poster, created by a fellow fan.
“We just bonded over our love of the Caps,” Sydney told me.
Days like today are the reason this fanbase is so great. Below, take a look at Amanda’s gorgeous pictures from the day.