While 23-year-old center Caleb Herbert has a long road to the NHL in front of him, he has something that other higher-rated Caps prospects in the system don’t: a burgeoning fan club!
Tuesday, three college-aged girls emblazoned in amazing, handmade puffy-paint shirts, made the journey to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to watch the first day of Development Camp. They had one goal in mind: to get a photo with the man they call Herbie.
If there’s one thing hockey players like it’s pasta. For eight years, Capitals players flocked to the Vapiano on Wilson Boulevard, just a few blocks away from Kettler. At the end of June, however, the German-owned chain closed down its Arlington location. Upon hearing the news, Liam O’Brien, who skated 13 games with the Capitals last season, was crushed.
The news has just broken that Caps GM Brian MacLellan is the worst human being in the history of the world has traded Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and a third-round draft pick to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for some guy name T.J. Oshie.
More like boshee if you ask us.
As you may know, we’re kinda fans of Brouwer, and we’re happy for the St. Louis Blues to be getting such a strong player and all around great guy. No, you know what, screw the St. Louis Blues and their stupid musical note logo. Congratulations on being a city best known for having an arch in it. You don’t deserve him.
First: some context! The Patrick family is one of the most famous families in hockey history. Lynn, Lester, Frank, and Craig Patrick are all in the Hall of Fame. Dick Patrick is the Capitals’ President of Operations.
One little known fact is that Dick’s nephew Steve is making a huge name for himself outside of hockey. Steve Patrick drums for the rock band Young Rising Sons, who had maybe one of the bigger rock singles of 2014 with “High.” You’ve likely heard it before in commercials or on the radio. It’s catchy as hell. They are releasing their first full length album in the fall with Interscope Records.
Friday in Culpeper, Virginia, a few hundred Eastern View High seniors gathered at Cyclone Stadium, the school’s football field, for graduation. Like the thousands of other students across the area, graduation is a huge celebration– the culmination of many, many years of hard work (or just enough expert coasting to get by).
But there was one Eastern View senior who was walking with a heavy heart: 18-year-old Paige Hockman, who was graduating with honors. As she walked on stage and accepted her diploma, she blew a kiss into the sky. Most in the audience understood exactly what the gesture meant.
The top of her powder blue graduation cap had a message written in glitter glue: “Guys, I did it!!!” The names Reagan, mom, and dad accompanied the note with blue hearts. Blue was her father’s favorite color.
Last week, Eric Fehr met the media to update them on the injury that has keep him out of the lineup for most of the playoffs. After two minutes of optimism and indirect answers, the scrum was finished. The day’s routine necessity had been completed. As the rest of the media shuffled away from Fehr’s locker, I made an offhand comment that the F-16 was getting ready for flight.
“There are some bad nicknames out there,” he told me. “Of all the nicknames to have, that’s a pretty cool one.”
I asked what he thought of his other nickname, Fehrsie.
“See, that’s the thing: I hate those nicknames,” he said. “Anybody with a last name with a –y on the end would probably be the worst one. Spelling it –ie doesn’t change anything. You need to be creative. As a group we’ve tried to be more creative with guys. We tried to change it up a little bit.”
Inadvertently, I had just stumbled on a massive scoop. Over the next 10 minutes, Fehr revealed the other hidden nicknames of the Capitals locker room. Some you might know– others you don’t.
Over the past season, we’ve seen Marcus Johansson go from a talented set-up man into the Caps third leading goal scorer. Andre Burakovsky has gone from an 19-year-old babyfaced rookie into, for a while, the team’s top-line right wing. In the past two weeks, those two have added more facets to their game. In the 2015 playoffs, Johansson and Burakovsky have become physical forces on the ice. But instead of going for needless checks that only put them out of position as so many players do, Marcus and Andre pick their spots, using their bodies to bump opponents off the puck or maintain possession.
“You never want to approach a game looking for hits,” Brooks Orpik, who was third in the league in that stat during the regular season, told me Wednesday. “If you do that you’re gonna be out of position.”
“We can’t try to be a skill team all the time,” he added. “If you are a big team, you have to use that to your advantage.”
When it comes to handing out cool nicknames to their teammates, we think hockey players are second to none. The current crop of Capitals are certainly doing their fair share of creative nicknaming. When the NHL mic’d up Tom Wilson for a first round game against the Islanders, we learned that Alex Ovechkin’s moniker is Destroyer – or at least that’s what Willy Baby calls him. And who can forget the “Big Cheese” Joel Ward; I mean, how can it possibly get any cooler than Big Cheese!?
In my opinion, it just did, courtesy of the two Caps players, who, as The Washington Post recently discovered, developed a strong and somewhat surprising friendship during the course of this season: Russian rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov and grizzled American veteran Brooks Orpik.
Down two goals to the New York Rangers at the tail end of the second period on Saturday, the Capitals were on a desperate search for points on the scoreboard. With 6:01 left in the frame, Evgeny Kuznetsov pulled a goal out of thin air, as he has so many times during these playoffs. Kuznetsov’s surprising and alert goal put the Caps within one, almost leading to a stunning comeback. Despite a late-game flourish, Washington lost. Tied for the Capitals team lead in playoff goals with Alex Ovechkin, Kuznetsov was once again superb. Nevertheless, the result was not good enough for him.
“Today I score, but next game another guy score,” Kuznetsov told me. “Who cares right now who score today? We lose the game.”