Sunday at the Radisson Royal Hotel in Moscow, the International Ice Hockey Federation inducted seven new members into its Hall Of Fame. Former Capitals forwards Peter Bondra and Sergei Fedorov were honored along with Valeri Kamenski (player), Ville Peltonen (player), Gabor Ocskay (Richard “Bibi” Torriani Award), Pat Quinn (Builder Category), Ben Smith (Builder Category), and Nikolai Ozerov (Paul Loicq Award).
Wednesday night, the NHL announced that the Capitals’ Brian MacLellan is a finalist for the 2015-16 General Manager of the Year Award. MacLellan helped guide the Caps to the President’s Trophy (as the league’s best regular season team) and the most wins in franchise history (56) this season. Over the summer, MacLellan acquired key veterans TJ Oshie and Justin Williams and re-signed Braden Holtby to a long-term deal.
The Capitals have reached the 100-point plateau in each of MacLellan’s first two seasons as general manager. MacLellan was previously the understudy of long-time Caps general manager George McPhee, who pieced together most of the core of the current roster.
The Penguins’ Jim Rutherford and the Stars’ Jim Nill are also finalists.
MacLellan becomes the the fourth Capital up for an NHL Award this season. Mac will join head Ccoach Barry Trotz (Jack Adams Award), goaltender Braden Holtby (Vezina Trophy), and captain Alex Ovechkin in Las Vegas (Richard Trophy, Messier NHL Leadership Award).
Tuesday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun published a feature on former Capitals Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward. Both players were a part of the Washington team that lost to the New York Rangers in Game Seven last season, and both players departed in the offseason. Brouwer was traded to the St. Louis Blues for TJ Oshie. Ward signed with the San Jose Sharks after the Capitals inked Justin Williams to a two-year deal.
Earlier this week, Ward and Brouwer addressed their former team’s flame-out in the second round.
One of Caps fans’ biggest fears when players head overseas for international competition after the NHL season is the very real threat of injury. We got a taste of that threat today when Evgeny Kuznetsov had to be helped off the ice during Russia’s match against Sweden in the IIHF World Championships underway in Moscow.
Kuzy went down after taking a shoulder to the head from Mikael Backlund, a Swedish center who plays for the Calgary Flames. Kuznetsov did not have the puck.
At the trade deadline, the Washington Capitals traded Brooks Laich and prospect Connor Carrick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Daniel Winnik. After spending some time with the big club during the regular season, Carrick and his American Hockey League Toronto Marlies will face the Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference Finals.
On Monday, the Marlies defeated the Albany Devils in a dramatic Game Seven. Carrick put the Marlies up 3-2 late in the third period.
On Saturday, former Caps in-game host and CRL contributor Guerin Austin got caught up in a bit of history during her new job as a sideline reporter for NESN. Forty-year-old designated hitter David Ortiz, who is in his final major league season, hit a walk-off double, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 11th inning win over the Astros.
Monday, Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan held his end of the season press conference with the media. MacLellan touched on his plans for the offseason, his thoughts on top-rated prospect Jakub Vrana, and what he thought was missing from this year’s team.
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.
“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.