The lockout is miserable, but at least we get NHL stars participating in silly AHL promotions. Check out Braden Holtby (front row, second to the left) and Dmitry Orlov (back row, dude wearing the hardhat) doing their best to raise money for the American Cancer Society by showing off new pink t-shirts and sticks. The “Pink The Rink” shirts will be available for purchase at the Bears game on Sunday behind section 117, and the pink sticks they use during warm-ups will be up for silent auction behind section 119.
That’s great and all, but where can I buy that hard-hat Dima’s wearing?
Photo credit: Hershey Bears Facebook page.
Whatever you think of Bruce Boudreau, he will forever be a part of DC hockey lore. He transformed the Washington Capitals into contenders, won the Jack Adams his first year behind the bench, and he invigorated a languid fan base. He had stories; amazing hockey stories. After talking with Caps radio man John Walton, I’m ready to share one of Bruce’s most legendary moments.
On December 26, 2006, Bruce Boudreau — a few months after his first AHL championship and exactly a full year before he was permanently hired as head coach of the Washington Capitals — jumped onto a bus with the Hershey Bears for a 220-mile jaunt up I-95 to Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Bears had Christmas off and were forced to travel the day of the game. The drive usually takes about three and a half hours.
The team ran into post-holiday traffic, pushing their arrival time back a few hours. When the Bears finally arrived at the Arena at Harbor Yard, they had just 20 minutes before warm-ups. As each player grabbed his gear off the bus, they ran to the locker room. Boudreau, who always preferred the comfort of his track-suit on the bus, grabbed his only companion, a suit bag, and headed inside to the visiting team’s coaches’ office along with assistant Bob Woods and general manager Doug Yingst.
Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey On Earth
November 1st marks the first day of Movember, an event where men across the globe grow mustaches to raise money to fight prostate cancer. Hockey players have been among the most avid supporters of the charity, raising thousands for research and awareness.
Almost the entire Hershey Bears team is participating this year, and some players are trying to one up each other. After Boyd Kane’s wife offered a signed team photo for any person donating $25 or more, Caps prospect Tomas Kundratek responded with his own overture.
No signed jersey or stick. Too rote. Instead, Kundratek is offering to take the fan who donates the most money out to dinner at the finest establishment in Hershey: Houlihan’s! If you’re nice, he might let you order an appetizer.
Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey On Earth
In a move both surprising and logical, the Capitals announced Sunday that Adam Oates would serve as co-coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears with head coach Mark French for the duration of the lockout. Caps assistant coaches Calle Johansson, Tim Hunter, and Blaine Forsythe and goaltending coaches Dave Prior and Olie Kolzig will — in George McPhee’s words — “be involved at different times” and also help out with the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate, Reading Royals.
To adequately take on lockout-loaded teams like Oklahoma City Barons whose roster now features Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Justin Schultz, the Capitals have given their farm team the deepest coaching staff in AHL history.
Our brotherblog Sweetest Hockey on Earth has great coverage of the Hershey Bears’ new logo, jerseys, and mascot. The new debut was made to celebrate the team’s 75th anniversary. We all think the new design is fantastic, and Coco’s six-pack abs are okay too.
Photo credit: Kyle Mace
The Hershey Bears lost to the Adirondack Phantoms 4-3. The game was played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, home of the Phillies, in front of the largest audience in AHL history.
Our sister blog, Sweetest Hockey on Earth, has comprehensive coverage of the game. There’s Brian Mills’ pre-game reminiscence of outdoor hockey, Kyle Mace’s magnificent photos from outdoor practice, the team picture, the pump-up video, the recap of actual game, and a billion photos of the game.
NHL Network will broadcast the game at 4 PM on Saturday, so, ya know… spoilers.
(Photo credit: Kyle Mace)
Making the Hershey Bears 7-1 victory over the Pirates even sweeter, fans threw over 10 thousand bears on the ice for charity. Check out our Hershey blog, Sweetest Hockey on Earth, for more of Kyle Mace’s photos and Kathryn’s game recap.
All photos by Kyle Mace. Click to enlarge.
We heard from reader Matthew W. that Braden Holtby got a new mask this week. Until today, all we had were blurry, long-distance cell phone pictures, but now we’ve got pics from Kyle Mace (of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey On Earth) taken during warm-ups of the Bears/Senators game.
The front of the mask features a bear on a roller coaster (either a reference to Hersheypark or his turbulent offseason) and the Capitals Weagle logo. The back features the flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta (Holtby’s home); the Japanese symbol meaning “Constant Improvement,” the words “Carpe Diem”, and the Hershey Bears logo.
Below the jump, check out Kyle’s hi-res images of Braden’s sweet new headgear. And thanks to Holtby for unknowingly being such a great model.
Photo credit: Hershey Bears Facebook Page
In early February, when Metallurg Novokuznetsk failed to reach the KHL playoffs, Dmitry Orlov worked out a deal with the team’s management. Instead of being sent down to the MHL to play for Metallurg’s affiliate during their playoff run, Orlov started his professional career in the Capitals’ organization to work towards his goal of becoming an NHL player.
He flew to America, and made his AHL debut with the Bears on February 27th. That night, Dima registered an assist, spent time on the power play, and had a first period so solid that Tim Leone called it “the best first 20 minutes from a 19-year-old D I’ve ever seen in this league.”
Orlov went on to total nine points in the remaining 19 games of the AHL regular season, and he experienced his first ever AHL playoff series, a 4-2 series loss to the Charlotte Checkers.
The six-foot Novokuznetsk native is now back in DC, participating in his first ever NHL Training Camp. I caught up with Hershey Bears Head Coach Mark French — the same man who guided the Bears to an AHL record 60 wins and the team’s eleventh Calder Cup in 2010 — and asked him about Orlov’s rookie season, what he needs to improve to make the NHL, and if Dima has the potential to be a 20-goal scorer in the NHL.
Photo credit: Chris Gordon
When George McPhee swooped in and signed free agent goalie Tomas Vokoun for a couple bucks and Alex Ovechkin’s now useless stockpile of CCM sticks, there was no doubt it was a great move for the Washington Capitals. But that doesn’t mean everyone was happy with it. 21-year-old netminder Braden Holtby, who looked assured of a roster spot just a day before when the team traded away Semyon Varlamov, was once again relegated to a job with the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
We know what Michal Neuvirth, the remaining ‘keeper in the Caps’ trio, thinks about the deal and losing his starting spot. Holtby, however, has been somewhat of a mystery, with head coach Bruce Boudreau admitting during Development Camp even he hasn’t spoken to the Saskatchewan native about the move.
Unbeknownst to us (but not Hockey Ramblings), someone has been able get Holtby’s side of the story. Several weeks ago, The Pipeline Show on Team 1260 Edmonton caught up the young goalie, with Holtby spilling the beans on the crease situation, Nicklas Backstrom’s injuries, why he didn’t think the team’s defensive system was much of a change, and more.
Below, we offer a transcription.
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