Photos by Chris Gordon

We know the Capitals have plenty of skill players, but when the team drafted Tom Wilson last month they added something else: a big, bruising forward who isn’t afraid to push people around. In the first two scrimmages of Washington’s Development Camp this week, that something was on display as the 6′ 3″, 205-pound winger bounced around the ice making a myriad of hits and occasionally jawing with prospects on the opposite team. This, it seems, is exactly what Capitals General Manager George McPhee was looking for when he took Wilson 16th overall, somewhat ahead of his projected draft slot.

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Why Tim Thomas Skipped The White House

Tim Thomas refuses to combine politics and hockey except when he’s using his hockey fame as a megaphone for his political views. Since his Random Capitalization rant on Facebook a few months back, he’s instituted a zero-tolerance policy for questions about politics, the President, or the White House– ending interviews as soon as the taboo topics come up.

No distractions. That’s Timmy’s rule. Nothing gets in the way of hockey from here on out. We admire that, but it’s a departure from the previous policy. After some late-night filings, our spies have unearthed photographic evidence of what Thomas did instead of meeting Obama in January. Yep, turns out he’s been rubbing elbows with right-wingers… and we ain’t talking about Nathan Horton.

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Joe Beninati’s Rookie Card

Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin pose with their Rookie Cards

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Way back in the eighties when trading cards were still packaged with a stick of bubble gum, a young, bright-eyed right-wing by the name of Craig Laughlin was featured on his first ever card. O-Pee-Chee, a Canadian candy company, produced the 1983-84 season set which also featured rookie cards for Scott Stevens, Phil Housley, and Brian Bellows.

Fast forward 28 years, Laughlin can now be found in the Capitals broadcast booth alongside play-by-play man Joe Beninati. The broadcast duo has been calling Capitals games together for 17 years. While the two took completely different paths to get to their current jobs, The Panini Group has now distinguished Joe B. with the same honor Laughlin received in his playing days. Yes, Joe B. now has an official trading card too. And it comes signed!

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

On Monday, there was a great deal of confusion about why the Capitals didn’t make any roster moves — after both owner and general manager expressed a desire to buy, many were left wondering why they never did. Luckily, we got an exclusive look at General Manager George McPhee’s Facebook Timeline, and we think it may shed some light on the mysterious events of February 27, the Tradeless Deadline.

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NHL All-Stars Suffering from Concussions and Head Injuries

Special thanks to Gary Bettman for letting the guys out of the Quiet Room long enough for us to snap this pic. Enlarge. (Photo illustration by Ian Oland)

The stars of the All-Star Game were a little less bright this year. Some of the familiar faces that fans expect were absent for reasons that are becoming all too familiar in the modern NHL: head injury. Approximately 85 head injuries have been reported this year, meaning that nearly ten percent of all active players have been injured. 28 of 30 teams have reported at least one head injury, while some franchises have dealt with as many six or seven. With star center Nicklas Backstrom now sitting out due to concussion, the issue has hit close to home for Caps fans.

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Alternate Cut of the Alex Ovechkin Suspension Video

Our Russian spies have infiltrated NHLHQ and recovered this alternate cut of Brendan Shanahan‘s suspension video for Alex Ovechkin. This video, archived by RMNB contributor Max Duchaine, contains several revelations about Shanahan’s mental state.

What we find is a broken man at the edge of madness, hated by all, who retreats to a lonely room to watch teen dramas and weep quietly. Do not loathe this man. Pity him.

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Rene Bourque Guest Stars in Mike Tyson Punch-Out

On January 3rd, Rene Bourque — then of the Calgary Flames — elbowed Nicklas Backstrom in the jaw. The reckless play resulted in both a concussion for Backstrom and a Shanaban for Bourque. Capitals players thought the elbow was a cheap shot, but they failed to exact retribution. Sigh.

“It’s one of those things where it kind of sucks because we’re not able to play (the Calgary Flames) again this year,” Troy Brouwer told reporters after the game.

Troy is in luck. Bourque was traded Montreal last week. And look at that! The Caps play the Habs… tonight!

DING! DING! DING!

Inspired by my favorite NES video game of all-time — Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out — here’s how we think tonight will play out for Bourque.

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Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

In Russia, they say the first crepe is always a clump. It describes the low expectations when something is attempted for the first time. The first NHL game for Dmitry Orlov, who debuted on the big scene Monday night against the Coyotes, was certainly not a clump – but it did turn out to be quite uneventful. His next game — a Thanksgiving Eve fixture against Southeast Division rival Winnipeg — was quite different. Dima’s name was in bold on the playing roster handout as one of the six Capitals’ starters. When the starting line-ups were introduced over the PA system, a loud cheer came from the crowd as the youngster was named one of the starting defensemen. Orlov was even featured on the jumbotron walking alongside his captain to the locker room. Expectations were certainly higher this time around.

Well, Dima certainly turned it up a notch or two for his second NHL game. Of course there were the obvious moments: his first NHL point – an assist on Nick Backstrom’s goal in the second period, a textbook-perfect hip-check on Blake Wheeler that sent the big Jets forward tumbling to the ice head-over-heels, and another thunderous collision with Evander Kane that launched his opponent’s stick into the stands. He even made an appearance on NHL Network. But as I talked to Dmitry in the Caps’ locker room immediately after the game, it quickly become apparent that helping his team win the game mattered much more to him than getting on the score sheet or landing a spectacular hit.

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Catching Up With Former Capital Andrew Gordon

Photo credit: Kyle Mace

Andrew Gordon won two Calder Cups with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears in four seasons.  He played nine games with Washington last season, scoring his first career NHL goal on future hall of famer Martin Brodeur, a feat he celebrated by kissing assister Marcus Johansson on the bench. But Andrew left the organization over the summer to hazard the free market. After a promising performance at Anaheim’s training camp, Gordon was added to the team’s roster (and then cheated on us in Finland with another blog).

I caught up with the notoriously well-spoken Andrew Gordon after the Ducks’ painful 5-4 overtime loss to the Capitals on Tuesday. We talked about California weather, competing against his former teammates, and the enduring adoration of Washington’s fans.

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Kanooblian, a Work of Art Inspired by Mike Knuble

Mark Burrier is an artist (and my friend and colleague) from Frederick, Maryland. One of his many projects is a website called Rare Words, where users submit words that become the starting point for drawings. To ring in the new season, I submitted a word to the blog. It’s a word I use a lot: kanooblian. It means As of or pertaining to Mike Knuble’s net-crashing ways.

Here’s a tiny version of the drawing:

"Kanooblian" by Mark Burrier

You’re gonna have to follow me past the jump to see the whole thing. You’ll be glad you did.

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