joel-ward-donates-blood

Photo: @tcmorrison

RMNB’s been busy working on a special project, so we missed the Inova Blood Drive at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Every few months, Inova holds a blood drive at the Caps practice rink and gives away bobbleheads and shirseys of certain Caps players. This past Saturday it was Joel Ward.

Unfortunately, the Wardo bobble heads got stuck in customs, but donators wound up getting a more special gift: meeting The Big Cheese himself. Ward signed autographs, took photos, and complimented people on their t-shirts.

And, of course, he donated blood.

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evgeny-kuznetsov

Photo: @kuzy092

We’re still 7 weeks away from training camp, but two important Washington Capitals players have already made it back to the district: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.

(A whole month early for training?! What a bunch of lazy, unreliable Russians! Am I doing this right?)

We were tipped off to the players’ movements when Kuznetsov posted a selfie with his wife on Instagram shortly after boarding a plane at 2AM on Thursday. His caption was, “✈️✈️✈️ DC,” which means either that he had two connecting flights or — like me — he realizes that emoticons are effective only if you repeat them a lot.

Eight hours later, Orlov posted a photo posing with his girlfriend at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in D.C. I cannot tell if his broken left arm is healed or out of the cast yet.

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grubi-atomic-breath-new-mask

Photo: DaveArt.com

A lot has changed in Washington D.C. since last season, including the goalie situation. On the first day of free agency, new Caps GM Brian MacLellan signed veteran goalie Justin Peters to be Braden Holtby‘s back-up. That means goaltending prospect Philipp Grubauer, who shined in a one-month stint with the team last December, will likely be relegated to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears for most of next season.

I bring that up because, um, well, this is awkward. Grubauer’s new mask from Swedish airbrush artist David Gunnarsson is 100% Caps-flavored.

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On Monday, Maria Kirilenko announced through R-Sport that she and Alex Ovechkin were dunzo. “There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn’t want to go in detail,” Kirilenko said, as translated by Fedor Fedin. “I’ll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.”

Without sharing those details, the gossip hounds turned to speculation.

Case in point: Ovechkin, who is currently vacationing on a French beach, posed in photos that got published on the internet. One person in those photos was gymnast Karolina Sevastyanova. Sevastyanova was scrutinized in particular for a) being a woman, and b) being near Alex in those photos.

R-Sport, who first broke the break-up news (say that three times fast), later published a nonsensical story, which later got translated by Sport Illustrated’s Allan Muir. That article, entitled Alex Ovechkin dumped by Maria Kirilenko over Instagram photo, was shared widely across social media. Despite the fact that Kirilenko and Ovechkin hadn’t been seen together in weeks, the article made it seem as if the pictures were the scandal that split the couple up.

On Tuesday, Kirilenko shot back in an interview with Sovetsky Sport’s Nikolay Mysin, calling those reports “laughable.” “I made my decision to break up the engagement long before these pictures appeared on the social networks,” Kirilenko said, as translated by RMNB’s Igor Kleyner.

Kirilenko added, “it is not a secret for anybody that Sasha has certain habits and particulars of behavior that I did not consider worth tolerating anymore.”

Her full comments are below.

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laich-hough

Photo: @BrooksLaich

You’re bummed right now. I get it. Alex Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko have broken up, Weezer is making new music (their new single is terrible), and the second Hercules movie of the year is about to drop and it’s got The Rock in a wig. It’s a bad time to be a human. Heavy Ovi thoughts tonight.

But there is some happy news on the romance beat. Brooks Laich used the L word in a happy birthday tweet to girlfriend Julianne Hough.

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Alex Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko are engaged

Ovechkin and Kirilenko after they got engaged. (Photo: @Ovi8)

This morning, R-Sport announced that Alex Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko have parted ways and ended their engagement. Kirilenko gave an official statement and retweeted R-Sport’s article on Twitter around 10:30 AM.

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ovechkin-vacation

This weekend, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin flew to France to enjoy the lovely beaches of St. Tropez. On what he described as his vacation, Ovechkin hung out with former KHL player (CSKA) Ruben Begunts and Brooklyn Nets small forward Andrei Kirilenko (Maria’s cousin).

And for the first time ever, I saw Ovechkin dive.

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jan-urbas-washington-capitals

Photo: RRBG Photography

In May, Fedor broke the news that Slovenian center Jan Urbas had agreed to a try-out agreement with the Washington Capitals. In July, the six-foot, three-inch, 218-pound forward made his debut in a Caps jersey at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in the team’s Development Camp.

Skating on the first line between Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana (the Capitals last two first-round selections), the 25-year-old got a good look at the team’s future, mentoring two of the Caps’ biggest offensive prospects in the system. The line dominated throughout the wee as Urbas showed off his offensive flair and puck-pressuring skill. For a better idea of how he plays, think Jeff Halpern in his prime, but with less goal scoring ability.

First recruited by Steve Richmond (the Capitals’ director of player development) in Germany, Urbas got on scouts’ radars with his play in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Despite playing in the 7th highest league in the world (DEL), Urbas was solid in the Olympics, scoring a shorthanded goal and helping Slovenia make it to the quarterfinals for the first time ever.

I had the chance to talk to Urbas after Development Camp concluded. The center talked in great detail about his experience in the Olympics and the hero’s welcome he received when the Olympic team got home. He also shared his thoughts on Burakovsky and Vrana’s future–as well as an update on if the Caps had reached out to him with a deal.

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Vrana (3 of 5)

Photo: Chris Gordon

After his Team Red lost to Team White 7-4 on Saturday, 2014 first-round pick Jakub Vrana was visibly disappointed. Sure, Vrana was just a few weeks removed from realizing the dream of getting drafted by an NHL team, but the 18-year-old couldn’t get past what happened on the ice.

When I spoke to Vrana afterwards, the Czech winger wasn’t his usual joking, smiling self.

Vrana still shared some interesting nuggets before departing. Vrana said he’s signed to a three-year deal with Linköping of the SHL and is unsure if he’ll be at Caps training camp in the fall. He also revealed some details about that fancy shootout goal he scored and his newfound love of American sandwiches.

My full interview with Vrana, who signed his entry-level contract with the Capitals on Tuesday, is below.

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madison-bowey

Photo from our Instagram, which you should totally already be following.

The Capitals’ NHL blue line is the deepest it has been in years, and the farm is starting to get stacked with defensive prospects as well. Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wey, and Connor Carrick have each shown that they will soon be ready to take the next step. Also developing rapidly: 2013 second-round pick Madison Bowey.

During last week’s Development Camp, the 19-year-old was one of the most mature prospects out on the ice. He dominated Saturday’s scrimmage, creating a number of chances on the rush.

Bowey’s most creative effort came early, a ridiculous no-look pass that led to Nathan Walker’s goal.

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