The Washington Capitals hosted their 2016-17 regular season home opener in style Saturday with a special red carpet event. As cars provided by Lexus dropped players off on F Street, diehard Caps fans lined the entrance, hoping for a picture or an autograph with their favorite athlete.
The event started at 3:30 and was hosted by PA Announcer Wes Johnson, who served as the master of ceremonies. Johnson introduced players as they arrived while preselected fans walked the players down the red carpet. Many Caps, including Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Nate Schmidt, and Andre Burakovsky, posed for selfies with fans before going inside Verizon Center.
That afternoon, RMNB had two photographers at the event, myself and the talented Katie Snyder (who you can follow on Instagram and Facebook). Snyder is one of the Redskins’ home-game photographers and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Snyder also does a lot of freelance work, including family-based portraits.
Thursday night in Pittsburgh, Capitals forward Justin Williams face-tackled Evgeni Malkin to the ice after the Russian superstar whacked goaltender Braden Holtby.
“It was like a different sport,” Malkin said of the hit, comparing Williams’ takedown to a wrestling or MMA move. “I’m OK. It was nothing bad.”
Well judging from this (very unreal) play-by-play I just unearthed by former WWE announcer Jim Ross, Williams’ takedown had malice and the resulting melee was one hell of a slobberknocker. Think of Evgeni’s family, Justin.
Thanks to you, we raised $8,840 for Caps fan Ryan Ellis to participate in the Drive Sober 200 Xfinity race at Dover International Speedway this Saturday. That money went to pay for a pit crew, transporting the car, new tires, parts – you name it. It also paid for a half-wrap of Ryan’s black-and-blue painted #25 Chevy Camaro.
Over the last few days, I’ve frantically worked with Rick Ware Racing and Carnage Graphics to turn around a hood design, a bumper design, and several other lower quarter panel decals. While it’s been fun and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it’s also been quite stressful. We also had to figure out where to put everyone’s name who donated, how to best credit our secondary sponsors, and how to make all of those logos perfect vector illustrations.
After 48 hours, the car design was finished (minus the bumper). I really hope you smile at the final result.
The Young Rising Sons, an up-and-coming band signed to Interscope Records, just released the first single off their new album due out early next year. Titled Undefeatable, the tune — much like the band’s previous smash hit from 2015 — is catchy af. It also has special significance for Caps fans and hockey fans in general.
First, the pop rock trio consists of two gigantic Caps fans, lead singer Andy Tongren and drummer Steve Patrick, who have most notably played street hockey with me in front of the 9:30 Club and held my ferrets.
Delving even deeper, Steve Patrick is the nephew of Capitals President Dick Patrick. The Patrick family is one of the most historic and decorated families in hockey history, featuring five Stanley Cup champions and four Hockey Hall of Famers (Lester, Frank, Lynn, and Craig). Dick Patrick’s son Chris is also a scout for the Capitals.
Photo: Patrick McDermott
On Monday afternoon, checking-line forward Michael Latta was not tendered a qualifying offer, ending his tenure in Washington. Lats will become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
“We struggled with that one,” Barry Trotz said to Elliot in the Morning the next day. “He’s been a really good soldier for us. We felt with where the game is going, in terms of our team, with four centermen, Lats is best playing in the middle and right now we don’t really have a place for him. And plus we have a couple centerman, Travis Boyd and Chandler Stephenson, who have really stepped up from the minors. Their skill sets are a little different. They’re more about speed and skill. And Lats is more about the physicality and the grind.”
“We wanted to give him an opportunity somewhere else,” Trotz continued. “Lats has been exceptional as a teammate. A lot of his teammates are sorry to see him leave. But I’m hoping the best for Lats. He’s a terrific guy. He’s a guy’s guy and a great teammate.”
On Tuesday night, I spoke to Latta and he opened up about the team’s decision to not bring him back. He also discussed his time in Washington – a time he will remember fondly – and also spoke seriously about his close friendship with Tom Wilson.
He also had some very sweet words for Caps fans.
On Tuesday night, a day after news broke that Michael Latta would not receive a qualifying offer from the Washington Capitals, I had a lengthy interview with the forward, who is now set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Latta told me that he was caught off guard by the team’s decision to non-tender him, but had nothing but good things to say about his teammates and his time in Washington.
“I was getting texts from everyone,” Latta said when the news dropped. “I wasn’t replying right away to [Tom], so he double, triple, quadruple texted me.”
“I think that’s one of the best things about hockey, the relationships you build,” Latta continued. “Tom and I obviously have become very close and will probably be one of my best friends forever. I’ll take a lot of good things from Washington, like the friendships I’ve built.”
Latta, who according to Hockey Fights has dropped the gloves 106 times in his professional career, will now look for a new team. He’s hoping to find a spot where he can bring energy every night and penalty kill. Depending on where he ends up, Latta could find himself playing against his former Caps teammates next year. It may get very awkward for fans.
Photo: Bruce Bennett
Washington Capitals goaltender and Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby rocked a stunning John Varvatos number to the 2016 NHL Awards on Wednesday, noting that he enjoyed the “rock and roll” motif of his new suit. Caps video coach Brett Leonhardt appeared wearing socks with Barry Trotz‘s face on them to go along with a fancy tuxedo. When Trotz, who won the Jack Adams, appeared on the red carpet, he was also wearing new attire, ditching his usual black for a fresh blue suit with narrow pinstripes.
Photo: Chris Gordon
Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt (he’s tall) has lived an eventful hockey life. Originally a producer and videographer for the Capitals’ website — and occasional Verizon Center DJ — he became known throughout the hockey world when he served as an emergency goaltender for a game in December 2008.
After Jose Theodore injured himself during a pregame skate, Stretch signed an amateur tryout agreement before the Caps faced the Ottawa Senators. Leonhardt later left DC for a job in the NHL’s war room in Toronto before coming back as Washington’s video coach in 2012. In 2013, Leonhardt, a former junior hockey and NCAA Division III goaltender, once again served as a backup, preforming his usual video editing duties during the intermissions.
Now, he’s added a notch in his storied career: wearer of absurd Barry Trotz themed socks.
Ovechkin poses with the Rocket Richard Trophy, which he won again this year, at the 2014 NHL Awards. (Photo: Harry How)
The Washington Capitals had a domineering regular season in 2015-16, running away with the Presidents’ Trophy by 11 points. On Wednesday evening in Las Vegas, their personal feats from this past season will be honored. Well… most of them.
One Caps player already has hardware locked up: Alex Ovechkin, who won the Richard Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer. It was his third straight 50-goal season. But there will be no crazy blue suits on the red carpet this year. Ovechkin will not be in Las Vegas to claim his prize.
“Alex will not be attending the Awards this year,” a Capitals spokesperson said in an email to RMNB, declining to elaborate further. A spokesperson for the NHL also confirmed Ovechkin’s absence.
Ovechkin is also a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award for the work he did for the American Special Hockey Association. Let’s assume he’s not going to win that one, lest the Awards become even more awkward.
Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt has done many amazing things in his life. He made the Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team in college and was named an All-WCHA First-Team All-Star in 2012-13.
Schmidt fulfilled a lifelong dream in making the NHL, playing his first career game on October 12, 2013. Schmidt has scored a NHL goal and played in the postseason. With his high-profile gig, Schmidt even got a free Tempurpedic pillow just for being him.
But on May 11, the highlight of Nate Schmidt’s life happened. Jimmy Fallon made fun of him on The Tonight Show.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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