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[Editor's note: We're not writing about this topic to invite a debate on Barack Obama's presidency or the politics of Crimea. This article is about hockey. Kind of. It's also about Miley Cyrus.]

In March, Vladimir Putin sent troops into the Crimea. His stated motive was to protect the mostly Russian population there from unrest. A few days later, the Crimean parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. Putin then claimed Crimea as part of Russia on moral and material grounds, citing the principle of self-determination and Crimea’s strategic importance for Russia or some ish like that.

Lots of world leaders were pretty pissed about this, judging by the non-binding UN resolution (100 of 193 in favor) that declared Crimea’s Moscow-backed referendum invalid a few days later. Then the United States decided to show just how pissed they were by sanctioning Vladimir Putin and all his boyz.

Those of us who watch the news every night and consider ourselves informed knew all of this already. What we didn’t know is who exactly got sanctioned, why they got sanctioned, and why those sanctions matter to us. Thanks to Jennifer M. Smith (whom we had the pleasure of meeting at RMNB Party 6) and her co-workers at the Stewart & Stewart law firm, we have learned that some of the people sanctioned are deeply involved in the Russian hockey league, the KHL. Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, president of Alex Ovechkin’s former KHL team Dynamo Moscow, has been sanctioned by the United States for being Putin’s former judo partner and a member of his inner circle.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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Photo: Marissa Baecker/Getty Images North America

The Washington Capitals have announced the signing of Madison Bowey, the 18-year-old defenseman selected 53rd overall in the 2013 Draft, to an entry-level contract beginning in the 2014-15 season.

He seems excited about it.

For the past three years, Bowey has played for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. This season, serving as team captain, he scored 21 goals and 60 points, breaking the club records for goals by a defenseman earlier held by the Colorado Avalanche’s Tyson Barrie and recording the third-best season in points by a blueliner. What makes Bowey’s achievement more impressive is the list of the Rockets defensemen he has surpassed (in single season goals and points): Tyler Myers, Alex Edler, Shea Weber, and Duncan Keith, among others.

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His career NHL stats may read 0 wins, 0 losses, 0 goals allowed, and a 0% save percentage, but Brett Leonhardt is now just like one of the guys. On Monday, Upper Deck announced that they had created the long sought-after Brett Leonhardt rookie card.

And what a delight it is.

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PatrickSmithBrouwer

Brouwer laughs at Ian. Seriously, that’s what’s happening in this photo. (Photo: Patrick Smith)

Ian Oland is a very stupid person. In the midst of Troy Brouwer’s poor start, Ian bet that the winger wouldn’t hit 20 goals this season. Because he lost, Ian had to dress up as a Brouwer Ranger during Saturday’s game. Since the beginning of February, however, Brouwer has 13 goals. He scored two against Nashville on Sunday, hitting a career high. With 23 goals, Brouwer is having his best season ever.

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backstrom-practice

Backstrom and Ovechkin at practice. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster

The sacrificial bloodletting that was the Capitals’ shootout loss to the Kings threatened to cost Washington their most important center in Nick Backstrom and a veteran defenseman in Jack Hillen.

Based on Thursday’s practice, there’s some good news: Nick Backstrom seems to be unscathed.

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Oleg Znarok Named Coach of Team Russia

Znarok and Gagarin Cup (Photo: Championat.com)

According to SovSport, Dynamo Moscow head coach Oleg Znarok has been named the new head coach of Team Russia. The news comes as no surprise; Znarok was pretty much the only candidate discussed in recent months. Ex-coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov failed to medal in Sochi, losing to Finland in the quarterfinals. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored just one goal in the tournament, examplifying an overall disappointing performance by Team Russia’s stars.

Znarok has been a household name in Russian hockey since 2010, when his HC MVD Balashikha went on a Cinderella run to win the Western Conference only to lose in the finals to Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s Ak Bars Kazan. After a successful season by the Moscow suburb team, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is related to both clubs, merged Dynamo Moscow and HC MVD into UHC Dynamo Moscow (where “U” stands for “United”). HC MVD’s coaching staff and top players moved to the storied Russian franchise. Success followed soon thereafter: Dynamo won the 2012 Gagarin Cup, and then another one, in 2013, holding off Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Traktor.

Despite being a native of Ust-Katav (Chelyabinsk Region, Russia) and an ethnic Russian, Znarok’s dual Latvian-German citizenship makes him the de jure first-ever foreign coach in Team Russia history. His assistant, Harijs Vitolins, who will also step in as head coach for Dynamo, is an ethnic Latvian.

I think the Znarok hire is a big mistake.

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standings

Tuesday night action in the NHL had huge repercussions for the playoff race. The Caps again earned a loser point against the awesome Kings, but it wasn’t enough to vault them over the competition. And while the current standings look like a tense four-way tie for the conference’s two wild card spot, it’s not that simple.

Because of all those shootout wins early in the season, the Caps are lagging in regulation and overtime wins (ROW), which is the primary tiebreaker should teams be tied after 82 games. It’s unlikely the Caps can catch Detroit’s ROWs in the final nine games, so they’ll need to earn more standings points. Plus, Columbus and Detroit both have one extra game left to play.

And yet, I’m kind of optimistic.

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John Carlson Gets Engaged While Eating Pizza (Photos)

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Engagement selfie!

We have some sad news to deliver to the ladies of RMNB: according to reader @MariannaStaplet one more Washington Capital player is off the market. Defenseman John Carlson proposed tonight to his long-time girlfriend Gina Nucci. And he did it in the most bro-rific way possible: while eating pizza at home.

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Grabo lives! (Photo: @scarletcaps)

When we last got an update about Mikhail Grabovski‘s status, we heard from the translated horse’s mouth that he wasn’t planning to skate for another two weeks, putting off a potential return until early April.

“I feel good, but the doctors say the rehab isn’t over,” Grabovski said last Monday to Tribuna’s Vadim Knyrko. “Don’t expect me on the ice for the next two weeks.”

Just seven days later, Grabo returned to said ice to skate a full practice session for the first time since February 27th, a morning skate in Florida. Grabovski, who has missed 20 of the last 21 games due to a sprained left ankle injury which he then re-injured in his first shift back against the Panthers, skated as an extra on the Caps’ fourth line.

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scoarboard

It was a good weekend for the Washington Capitals. On top of snapping a decades-long losing streak in San Jose, the Caps got pretty favorable results on the Alchemax Out-of-Town Scoarboard.

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their free fall, losing to the Devils in rego.
  • The Detroit Red Wings stole a loser point from overtime, but lost on a nifty goal by Matt Moulson.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets got shut out by Evgeni Nabokov.

The result: The Caps are basically one point out of the playoffs.

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