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Former WWE champion CM Punk recently quit the sports entertainment industry to try his hand at real fighting. I guess once you’ve lost to The Undertaker in one of the greatest matches in the last decade, it’s all downhill. On December 6th, Punk announced that he has signed with the UFC and will debut in late 2015.

Punk, in real life named Phil Brooks, is a huge hockey fan. While doing an interview with CSN’s Brian Mitchell to promote his UFC signing, Punk made a prediction for the Winter Classic and I don’t think you’re gonna like it.

He predicted the Blackhawks would totally stomp the Caps.

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tom-wilson-backy-dad

In episode one of The Road To The Winter Classic, EPIX brought us into the luxury apartment of Caps forwards Tom Wilson and Michael Latta. It was the best segment of the night– probably because their apartment wasn’t so luxurious as we might have thought.

Not-Liev Schreiber described the design of Wilson and Latta’s bachelor pad as somewhere between “minimalist and utilitarian.” If your ping pong table is also your dinner table, that’s pretty accurate.

“I roast him on it a lot,” Wilson joked.

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pierre-lebrun

Last night, TSN Insider’s Trading panel discussed a number of topics, including the Oilers’ shortcomings, Jay Feaster’s Twitter jab, and a potential re-tool in Arizona. They also talked about Caps general manager Brian MacLellan, whose patience with the team is allegedly running thin.

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Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki

On Wednesday, Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich did his weekly radio segment with the Sports Junkies. The Wawota, Saskatchewan-native has missed nine out of the last ten games with an upper-body injury. On Wednesday, Laich told the Junkies that doctors believe he’s dealing with a painful nerve problem in his shoulder/collarbone area.

Laich returned to game action last Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks only to re-injure himself. “By the time I left the arena, I couldn’t touch the left hand to my face,” Laich said. “So obviously it was a little bit sore.”

Um, yeah. That’s not good.

Laich’s full comments on his injury are below.

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After the Capitals’ 4-2 loss to the Red Wings Wednesday, Pierre McGuire spoke to Detroit head coach Mike Babcock during NBCSN’s post-game show. There was one response from the Stanley Cup-winning bench boss that was particularly interesting to me. Babcock was asked about his long history with Barry Trotz in the Western Conference and if that gave him any insight into the game.

Babcock, considered to be one of the best coaches in the league, instead went out of his way to praise how good of a coach he thinks Trotz is.

He also briefly gushed about Andre Burakovsky, once Pierre told him what his name was.

This seemed really genuine to me, so I had to share.

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Photo: Geoff Burke

On Friday, the Washington Capitals got back to business, holding a practice at Calgary’s old Olympic stomping grounds. After the hour-long session was concluded, Nicklas Backstrom spoke to the media and was asked about Caps rookie Andre Burakovsky.

Through six games this season, the Burracuda is a point-per-game player, tallying six points and scoring two big goals. When Backstrom first began his North American career with the Caps, he tallied four points – all assists – in six games as a 19-year-old.

Nicky was asked about how he would compare himself to Andre at that age and it’s great stuff.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

Recent years in Caps-land have been chaotic, but there’s always been something you can rely on: everybody having a different opinion on how Alex Ovechkin can improve. You’d think the sixth fastest player to 400 goals is maybe doing alright, but for the media and the revolving door of Caps coaches, “fixing” Ovechkin is always all the rage.

Dale Hunter wanted Ovechkin to sacrifice his body and block shots, Adam Oates wanted The Great Eight to play with fourth-liners, and Bruce Boudreau wanted Ovi to push the pace and look for odd-man breaks.

Now it’s Barry Trotz’s turn.

When asked if he’s noticed “subtle” changes in Ovi’s play during the preseason, the new Caps coach spoke about what he’s wanted the Russian machine to improve on: defense.

Here’s the key quote: “His stick was up around his shoulders at the start of camp and now it’s below the waist. We’ll get it right on the ice before too long.”

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brooks-laich-flexing

Photo by the incomparable Chuck Gormley

For those of you who need something optimistic to clutch onto after the first day of training camp, I have some news for you. Brooks Laich did not get injured within the first ten minutes of camp (unlike last year). So maybe this is the season he becomes healthy again. Fingers crossed.

On top of that, the good-groin’d Laich is returning to his role as a quote machine, which was sorely missed. On Thursday, he spoke to Mike Vogel and answered a question many of us have been wondering.

What is Barry Trotz’s system going to be laich (get it)?

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Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin hasn’t played in a single game yet, but TSN’s Darren Dreger is already criticizing him for future wrongs. Two years after completely changing positions and not complaining under Adam Oates, Dreger is worried that the Russian machine won’t “buy in” on the plans of new Caps head coach Barry Trotz.

Welcome to Hot Take Central where the temperature is always scorching.

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jeff-schultz-not-awkward

Photo: Debora Robinson

Last summer, the Washington Capitals bought out the final season of Jeff Schultz’s four-year, $11 million deal. The 6’6”, 227-pound defenseman fell out of favor with Caps brass, and the Calgary, Alberta native asked for a trade. When they couldn’t find a willing partner, they bought him out. The Caps ended up using Sarge’s $2.75 million cap hit on Mikhail Grabovski, and we all said goodbye. It was time.

Over the summer, Schultz signed with the Los Angeles Kings. He didn’t make their team out of training camp, so he spent the entire season with American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. He put up pedestrian numbers there–two goals and 11 assists– but Sarge has never been a stellar boxcar stat guy. On Monday night, with Robyn Regehr injured, Schultz was given a jersey by Kings coach Darryl Sutter. He looked like a changed player.

It was weird– and not only because he was playing his first NHL game since DC against Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, and the Anaheim Ducks.

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