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Photo: WHL Images

“Where were you when it happened?” That’s what your grandchildren will ask you about the events of April 19, 2014, when the Capitals announced the trade of a 20-year-old WHL D-man for a pick that has a one-in-nine chance of having an NHL career.

Jaynen Rissling has played 273 games for the Calgary Hitmen, who were eliminated from the playoffs by the Kootenay Ice last month. Rissling now belongs to the Nashville Predators and everything has changed.

We are now living in the Post-Rissling Era. Adjust your calendars accordingly.

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Photo: Brad Mills

Classy. The Washington Nationals are not as near and dear to my heart as the Baltimore Orioles, but they did something super awesome on Thursday, when they had Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward throw out the first pitch before their game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ward getting the opportunity to throw out the first pitch after a career year is cool enough on its own, but doubly so because it came on Jackie Robinson Day at Nats Park. Ward wears #42 in honor of the Dodger legend.

After getting some advice from Nats pitcher Ross Detwiler, Ward stepped to the mound confidently and delivered a perfect strike. Though the heave was a bit of a moonshot.

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Despite not making the playoffs, a lot of Washington Capitals players still have some hockey left to play. Last week, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin announced that Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and he will be representing Team Russia in the 2014 World Championships happening in Minsk, Belarus.

But what of the Caps’ Swedes? After winning a silver medal in Sochi, Marcus Johansson will likely not represent his home country due to a broken arm. On Thursday, Pär Mårts, Sweden’s national team coach, told Svenska Dagbladet that Nicklas Backstrom has turned down an invitation to play in the tournament this year.

When asked why, Mårts said Backstrom won’t be playing “for family reasons.”

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The Capitals Will Select 13th in 2014 NHL Draft

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Lucky number 13?

This season, the NHL adopted a draft lottery system like the NBA. That means, unlike in years past, every team that does not make the playoffs has a chance to win the lottery and draft number one overall. The suspense! The television revenues. The bloggity blogs writing about this craziness. Gary, you are such a brilliant commissioner.

The Capitals had a 0.5% chance of getting the first overall pick entering the night and ended up getting dreaded pick number 13, which I guess is good unless you’re really, really superstitious. For those looking for a good omen, the last time the Capitals drafted 13th– back in 2002, they wound up with Alex Semin.

The Florida Panthers, who are awful, won the lottery and will draft first. The Sabres, who are even awfuler, will draft second. Here are the rest of the picks.

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gmgm

Photos by Chris Gordon

Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee appeared at Kettler Capitals Iceplex around 12:50PM on breakdown day. That’s not a surprise. However, this year, instead of addressing the media after all of the players depart like every other year, GMGM declined comment. Hmm.

According to The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera, McPhee said to the crowd gathered around him “I’ll talk in a couple days.” He then coolly sipped on a can of Diet Coke and had a conversation with 20-year-old defenseman Connor Carrick.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

For the first time in their respective careers, Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov will all play together on Russia’s national team. As first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov, Ovechkin announced the news after the conclusion of the Caps’ season-ending shootout loss to the Lightning.

The World Championships, which will be held this year in Minsk, Belarus, begin on May 9th and end May 25th.

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Capitals Sign Prospect Chandler Stephenson

Photo credit: Keith Hershmiller/Regina Pats

The Capitals have signed forward Chandler Stephenson to an entry-level contract. According to a report by the Regina Leader-Post, the three-year contract is worth $925,000 per season, the maximum an NHL rookie can get.

Stephenson was originally considered a left winger, but he impressed at center for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League and for the Caps during last preseason. After missing time due to injury in the 2012-13 season, Stephenson had a huge breakout this year with 30 goals and 59 assists in 69 games, leading his team and finishing 14th in the league in points (89). He played in all situations for the Pats, logging a lot of ice time especially late in games.

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Scoarboard Watching: The Caps Have Been Eliminated

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“The team will make the playoffs, as I promised, ten to fifteen years in a row.”
Ted Leonsis, 2011.

The Wings got a point and the Jackets beat the Stars, thereby officially eliminating the Washington Capitals from playoff contention. After six straight years of making the postseason, the Caps will be tearing down after their final game on Sunday. There will be no Capitals playoff games for me to write about. I don’t know what to do with my hands.

Summer beckons. Tee time. Watching someone else win the Cup. Watching Pittsburgh flame out in the first two rounds. Watching the Os and the Nats. Drinking frozen mai tais poolside. People getting fired. The draft. People getting hired. Free agency. Dev camp. Sunburns. And then we’ll do it all again in the fall.

We invite you to wail in grief below. Come join the GIF party.

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Jaroslav Halak’s Agent Has Beef With Adam Oates

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

In a season that has been inordinately long and drama-filled, here comes MOAR drama! On Tuesday, Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates announced that Jaroslav Halak would not start against his old team because Halak reportedly said he didn’t feel “100% comfortable” playing. Halak then spent most of the afternoon getting criticized by local and national media for a lack of desire and toughness. We thought this conversation should have stayed private.

Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, has issued a statement and apparently he agrees with us. I hope you’re ready for some venom, Oatesy.

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halak-not-playing

Photo: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals have less than a 5% chance of making the playoffs. Tonight, they take on the best team in the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues, in what is practically an elimination game. They need everyone on board. Unfortunately, not everyone is on board.

Speaking with the press today in St. Louis, Adam Oates revealed Braden Holtby will be starting tonight. That wasn’t too surprising until Oates explained the reasoning behind the move. Jaroslav Halak had told the coaching staff he was uncomfortable playing against his former team.

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