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.
After finishing the regular season as the NHL’s best team, the Washington Capitals fell short of their ultimate goal, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games during the semi-finals. Captain Alex Ovechkin hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs during his entire 11-season career, but despite some national media reports, this season’s early exit was not Ovechkin’s fault.
Ovechkin, along with John Carlson, led the team in points (12) this postseason. Ovechkin finished second to TJ Oshie in goals with five. During breakdown day Thursday, Ovechkin admitted to struggling through the regular season with a nagging injury.
“It was my back, lower back,” Ovechkin said. “Right now it’s gone. The trainers did a great job to keep me safe and healthy.”
This weekend, we also learned of something else Ovechkin was dealing with privately. According to a Russian TV program, two days before the playoffs began Alex Ovechkin’s father Mikhail suffered a heart attack, which caused the family to call for an ambulance.
Ahead of Game Two, one bold Caps fan brought a fluorescent pink sign to Verizon Center. Written haphazardly in marker and in all-caps, the message read “SHUT UP PIERRE.” The fan held this sign near NBC commentator Pierre McGuire during warm-ups. It was a hit online.
And apparently it has started a revolution.
Covering practices and morning skates at Kettler Capitals Iceplex is always an adventure. You want to provide your readers with good coverage, but you also want to make it out of there within three hours so you only have to pay a dollar to park.
Today, I made it by just a few minutes. As I was entering the on ramp to Route 66 West, there was a discreet vehicle in front of me. It was a white Mercedes S65 AMG with vanity plates. Everyone knows that car belongs to Alex Ovechkin.
Major League Baseball is in the throes of opening week and Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson was at a hockey game Thursday night. As a guest of CSN Mid-Atlantic and the Laughlin family, Robinson came to Verizon Center to see the latest iteration of the Capitals Penguins rivalry.
Nicknamed “The Human Vacuum Cleaner,” Robinson won 16 Gold Gloves and two world championships with the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson is considered one of the greatest third basemen in major league history. Former Capitals player Brooks Laich is named after the beloved Orioles infielder.
During the first intermission, I spoke with Robinson. Brooks explained his hockey fandom, what position he would play if he were a hockey player, and his thoughts on his historic Major League career.
In February, two RMNB readers, Daniel and Katie, told us that they had named their new child after two of their favorite Caps players, Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin. Naturally, we had to share the news of tiny Braden Alexander with all of you. The post was one of our most-read articles of February and NHL Live even showed a picture of tiny Braden on TV.
That reception was wonderful — Daniel and Katie thanked me approximately a million times through email — but that’s not the end of the story. A few days later, the Capitals reached out to me privately and asked if I could arrange for a package be sent to Daniel and Katie.
You’re never going to believe what they were sent.
Friday night, the Capitals lost to the Rangers 3-2. I mostly abandoned GIF’ing, but for good reason. Andy Tongren, the lead singer of the Young Rising Sons, came to my house to watch the game. Yes, a legit rock star came to my house to play with my ferrets, play fetch with my kitten, and watch the Caps.
The Young Rising Sons are signed to Interscope Records and currently recording their first full album. They’ve released two (very good) EP’s, which you can buy on iTunes here and here. You’ve likely even heard their monster single “High” before, which is catchy af.
Andy and drummer Steve Patrick play hockey (even with me outside the 9:30 Club) and are huge Caps fans. Steve is the nephew of Capitals president Dick Patrick.
I interviewed Andy in my basement during the game. We talked about touring, Justin Bieber, the Caps obviously, and the Man V.
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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