Last season with the Winnipeg Jets, Eric Fehrhad a disaster season. Still feeling the effects of shoulder surgery, the big six-foot four-inch winger had two goals in 35 games. Winnipeg did not offer him a contract to come back.
Fehr, center, celebrates his first goal against the Bolts on Thursday. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)
I was sitting in section 112 of Heinz Field as the rain steadily picked up. It was New Year’s Day, night time, and the Capitals were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third period of the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. As puddles were forming on the temporary ice sheet, Jason Chimera fired a centering pass to a player streaking down the middle of the ice. A couple seconds later, Eric Fehr had his second goal of the game. Washington won 3-1.
Two years later, things are different. Their coach at the time, Bruce Boudreau, is gone. As is his successor Dale Hunter. The Caps are no longer competing for the best record in the National Hockey League. Right now they’re just trying to stay relevant.
But Fehr got out before all that. When he left the team, they just finished their second straight year being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the number one seed. Fehr had a rough last year in Washington. A victim of nagging shoulder issues (which had previously required surgery) the Manitoba native dislocated his shoulder just two weeks after the marquee match in Pittsburgh, tearing a ligament in the joint. He tried to come back after rehab, but former 20 goal scorer wasn’t the same. In May of 2011, he went under the knife to repair the damage. Two months later, Fehr, a fan favorite, was traded in a salary dump to the newly minted Winnipeg Jets. It was the team — albeit in a different incarnation — he grew up loving as a kid.
Fehr, though, didn’t step on the ice much for the Jets in their inaugural season. His shoulder never fully healed. He would play for a few weeks and then be sidelined again. In 35 games, Fehr scored just two goals. Winnipeg showed no interest in resigning him. He couldn’t get a deal before the NHL lockout.
“It was frustrating because knew I wasn’t at my best, I wasn’t at the top of my game,” Fehr said of his time with the Jets. “I feel like I was more in survival mode.”
For example, take a look at Thursday’s game against division rival Tampa. The Capitals gained a 4-1 lead, only to surrender two third period goals and barely escape with a win. There were missed poke checks, goals scored from a seated position, and lots of enthusiastic coaching. You know: Caps hockey.
On February 14, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Scott Audette
Happy Valentine’s Day, hockey lovers! I hate this stupid day, but I found a good way to pass the time. The Washington Capitals served the Tampa Bay Lightning to some offense-go-boom and peppered it with all the careless defense that makes Caps hockey both fun and infuriating.
Troy Brouwer executed a lovely passing sequence on the game’s opening power play, but Martin St. Louis evened the score with a series of swats at Holtby’s pads. Eric Fehr scored his second goal in as many games by going straight to the net, and then made it three with a rocket from outside in the third period. Jay Beagle reintroduced himself with the dirtiest goal ever scored by a half-human/half-hound. Teddy Purcell got one back with a zero-angle shot that probably went off a Caps skater’s boot, and Nate Thompson made it darn close with a breakaway that Holtby misread. The Caps survived a late-minute panic and earned the win.
Last week, Ted Leonsis spread his wings by launching Monumental Network, a site to aggregate all the Caps, Wizards, Mystics, and Verizon Center coverage his company produces. They’ve got original reporting and a network of blogs to cover the living heck out of each team.
Coming into training camp, the Washington Capitals had a few question marks around their forwards. Brooks Laich was sidelined by a groin injury, and Wojtek Wolski was tentatively slated [gulp] as a top-six winger. But on Saturday, as the lockout ended, George McPhee got himself some insurance, inking longtime-Cap Eric Fehr to a one-year deal worth $600,000. The signing made a lot of fans happy.
Fehr left the Caps in ’11 for the newfangled Jets of his hometown Winnipeg. Fehr was one of the principle contributors to the Capitals’ previous SCOAR MOAR GOALS style of hockey, so his return may bring good tidings for the those yearning for a more offensive Caps team. I’d like to see him take the right wing on the top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom. What do you think?
The Pre Game: OK, who among us is not looking forward to smearing turkey gravy over fresh rolls with sage stuffing and a slab of dark meat on top with tart cranberry sauce dripping from the side? Maybe everyone who also has to travel home for the annual ‘Parental Maintenance’ festival. Or those who just aren’t in a position to lay a feast on their table.
Don’t ever dare quote us as saying this, but this is a great time of year to be nice to people. Even those you don’t know. Not just Thanksgiving Day, but the coming months of cold, and dark, and at times hunger. Be nice, people.
We don’t handle “being nice” well, at least publicly, so this Thanksgiving preview we’ve handed over to two honest, sweet-natured souls from the Upper Midwest. (*whisper God’sCountry whisper*) “Puck Buddy Bunny” and “Dave E” write for PuckBuddys, and occasionally hoist a drink to the great hockey teams of the midwest, such as the Fightin’ Souix, the Duluth Bulldogs, or (when they must) the Wings.
Either of them have more hockey knowledge at a hat drop than both PuckBuddys on a sober night, and they’ve offered their thoughts on our second tangle with the Winnipeg Jets. We advise you sit up straight, pay attention, then go back to fiddling with your bird.