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Attaboy. (Photo credit: Elsa)

George McPhee doesn’t tip his hand often, but during an interview with DC101’s Elliot In the Morning last week, the man some call The Undertaker revealed his softer, less-cage-matchy side when he discussed Matt Hendricks’ new four-year, $7.4-million deal with the Nashville Predators.

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee went on ESPN980 Wednesday afternoon to talk hockey, and boy did he hit some interesting topics. McPhee explained what characteristics the Caps need to have to become a Stanley Cup winner in the future, and he defended his decision to anoint Brooks Laich the second-line center for next season. “There are a handful of teams that maybe have a better second-line center than Brooks,” he said. “It’s [an idea] we’ve been talking about for a few years, and the time has come to do it.”

The most interesting part of the discussion, however, was McPhee’s remarks on Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is due in North America sometime next year. McPhee admits some frustration about the two-year contract Kuznetsov signed with Traktor Chelyabinsk last spring to stay in the KHL, saying that Kuznetsov went against a verbal promise he made after the 2010 NHL Draft. He also talks about how hard of a contract it was for Kuznetsov to turn down. “He’s 20-years-old, they gave him ten million dollars to play for two more seasons,” McPhee said.  “It’s a 13% tax rate over there and even with that, most of the money is under the table. It’s probably no tax.”

The KHL never made Kuzya’s contract public, but it is believed his average annual salary from Traktor is in the two-million range. That would mean that the KHL gave Kuznetsov a bonus around $5 million to stay. And, as we learned from an Igor Kleyner post last year, the KHL’s Legal Regulations handbook has a open-ended rule that allows the league to do exactly just that.

[Traktor] may also apply to the KHL for a special stipend to supplement the young star’s salary. There are no specific limits on the amount of such a stipend, or any clear criteria defining eligibility.

Below, check out McPhee’s entire interview with ESPN980.

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Tom Wilson isn’t shy on the ice. According to hockeyfights.com, he’s dropped the gloves 23 times in junior. He’s broken his knuckles twice.  He even earned the nickname The Ten Train because his brutal hits always arrive on time.

After the second day of Caps Development Camp, Wilson was asked if anyone in the coaching staff requested before last year’s camp that he tone down his game. Wilson responded with a wry smile and a chuckle. “I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t really remember having that conversation. Yeah, there’s a couple guys that went down last year. That’s just the way I play. It’s not really going to change.”

Later, Wilson revealed how nastiness became a part of his game at an early age.

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Alex Ovechkin was awarded his third Hart trophy on Saturday night, a feat accomplished by only eight other NHL legends: Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Bobby Clarke, Eddie Shore, and Howie Morenz. Fine company for Ovi, a point not lost on our friends in Canada.

Speaking to The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera on Saturday night, Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates heaped a truckload of praise on the Capitals captain for his willingness to change positions, especially after playing on the left side his entire career in the NHL and Russia.

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On Wednesday, Braden Holtby spoke to the media for the last time this season at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The next day he went to his DC-area home, packed up his things, and got in his car and drove. And drove. And then drove some more.

Three days later, after making a couple of pit stops along the way (including one in St. Cloud, Minnesota where Matt Hendricks played college hockey), Holtby arrived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Google estimates the Holtbeast had to travel 31 hours and 2,006 miles in his car to make it back home. Here’s what it looks like on a map.

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Washington Capitals

Yet again. (Photo credit: USA Today)

Alex Ovechkin sat on the bench, glaring down at the ice with his head between his hands. He looked defeated, because he was. His sixth visit to the Stanley Cup Playoffs was about to end in another disappointing loss, after another year failing to meet expectations.

After the game, Ovi stood in front the white board at the far end of the Capitals locker room and went off.

I am not saying there was a phone call from [the NHL], but someone just wanted Game 7. For the ratings; you know, the lockout, escrow, the league needs to make profit.

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In game six on Sunday night, the Capitals did not receive a single power play despite a few egregious fouls by the New York Rangers. One of the worst missed calls came in the first period, when Mathieu Perreault was decked into the boards by Michael Del Zotto.

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oleksy-pranked

Steve Oleksy has never been considered a top prospect. In fact, before he made his NHL debut for the Washington Capitals in March, Oleksy played for seven different minor league teams in five years. It’s been a long and often painful road Oleksy has traveled, one that was made even longer because of Braden Holtby.

You see, earlier in the season when Holtby and Oleksy played together in AHL Hershey, the sassy goaltender from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan decided to play a prank on the new Bears defenseman.

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Despite a painfully slow start, Alex Ovechkin has had one of the greatest seasons of his career. He scored more goals than any other player, earning his third Rocket Richard trophy in six seasons. He finished third in the league in points. He led his team to a division title after being mired in dead last a month into the season. Ovechkin’s play is the reason the Capitals are in the playoffs — without his success, this would have been a lost season for Washington.

Since he has been so crucial to the accomplishments of his team, he deserves consideration for the Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the guy “judged to be the most valuable to his team.” However, many of the writers who vote for the award are casting their ballots for somebody else — namely Sidney Crosby or John Tavares.

The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, disagrees with that.

Monday afternoon, Gretzky called in to Hockey Night in Canada’s afternoon radio show hosted by Rob Pizzo and Elliotte Friedman. Wayne talked about what teams he thinks will succeed in the playoffs and gave Ovechkin the ultimate endorsement, naming him and Jonathan Toews as the two people he’d like to see win the Hart trophy. He also praised the skills of first year head coach Adam Oates.

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Matt Hendricks Fights Adam McQuaid

Photo credit: Brian Babineau

Saturday afternoon against the rival Boston Bruins, a chippy game stayed somewhat calm until the end of the second period. That’s when Brad Marchand goaded Mike Ribeiro into his first NHL fight and all hell broke loose. Matt Hendricks responded by dropping the mitts with Bruins first-line forward Nathan Horton, bloodying his face.

In the third period after Hendricks exited the box, Bruins heavyweight enforcer Shawn Thornton asked Hendy to drop the gloves several times. The Blaine, Minnesota native refused. That’s when, as Karl Alzner described it, “the biggest joke I’ve ever seen” occurred. Thorton shadowed Hendricks, shoving him and begging him to drop his mitts. Then Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid cornered him along the boards, forcing Hendricks to pick one of them to dose-e-doe with.

So what did Hendy think of all the drama? Below are his full remarks after the Capitals’ morning skate Sunday.

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