NHL: All Star Game

Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel

I’ll say this for the All-Star Game: it was entertaining. Just because the stakes were non-existent, the stretch passes were careless, and the skating was lackadaisical didn’t mean there was an absence of drama. Quite the opposite. Just look at hero of the day John Scott. Or, for a Caps-specific angle, how about Braden Holtby vs Jaromir Jagr.

Twice in the first period, Holtby, franchise goalie for the league-leading Capitals, faced Jagr, 43-year-old freak of nature and the single biggest agitator of the Caps since the early 1990s, twice in the first period.

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The glorified three-on-three hockey tournament the NHL is calling the All-Star Game now has its captains. On Saturday afternoon, the NHL announced that Washington’s Alex Ovechkin will captain the Metropolitan Division all-star team.

The first round of players named to the all-star game also includes Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Kane, and John Scott. Along with Ovechkin, those players will serve as captains of their respective divisional teams.

Kane leads all players in points this season, Jagr leads all active players in career points, Ovechkin is one of the best scorers of all-time, and John Scott is a half-funny, half-cruel prank concocted by online fan voting.

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Photo: NY Times

Alex Ovechkin has been an elite goal scorer since he first set foot in the NHL. He’s also has been one of the most feared body checkers in the league too. For instance, in Ovechkin’s first game as a Capital 10 years ago, he dislodged a pane of glass while hitting a Columbus Blue Jacket player behind the net.

In an interview with Graham Bensinger (which airs in its entirety this weekend), Ovechkin was asked what his biggest hit was.

“Probably [Jaromir] Jagr in Olympics,” Ovechkin said.

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Photo: Julio Cortez

Alex Ovechkin can score goals. Everybody knows that. His lamp-lighting ability is unmatched in this generation (sorry, Stamkos). And as Ovechkin takes aim for Peter Bondra’s Capitals franchise goal record (472, just 23 away), I asked myself how the Russian machine stacks up against the league’s all-time greats.

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In the first period, the Washington Capitals defense was about as holey as my fifth grade gym socks, which I should really throw out. No worries though; Braden Holtby was on the case.

The Holtbeast made his slickest save of the season, robbing future hall-of-famer Jaromir Jagr from point-blank right at the end of the period.

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If we ignore his time with the Washington Capitals (which I recommend), Jaromir Jagr has been one of the greatest players in hockey history. He’s scored 700+ goals, won two Stanley Cups, and led the league in points five times. He also gave hockey the hockey mullet, which the sport still treasures twenty years later.

Last week, one chapter of Jagr’s career ended when the Czech Republic lost 3-0 to Sweden in the bronze medal game of the World Championships. After the game, a medal-less Jagr announced his retirement from international competition. I’m sure that made people sad; I just don’t know who those people are. Jagr will play one more season in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils.

In his honor, let’s remember Jagr’s final moments in this year’s tournament.

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Jagr talks to the media after the game. (Photo credit: Katie Brown)

Jagr talks to the media after the game. (Photo credit: Katie Brown)

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

On Saturday night, two of the greatest scorers of all time matched up. They’re similar players: elite snipers from Eastern Europe with innumerable fans but many critics. In 2001, the Washington Capitals gave Jaromir Jagr the largest contract in NHL history: seven years, $77 million. In 2008, the Washington Capitals gave Alex Ovechkin the largest contract in NHL history: 13 years, $124 million. For Caps fans, however, their feelings toward each are starkly different; they hate Jagr and they love Ovechkin.

In his latest return to Verizon Center, Jagr — like his hair — was majestic. He led the Devils comeback, scoring a goal and picking up two assists, including the primary on the game winner. All night, he faced boos from the 18,506 red-clad people, who haven’t forgotten his disastrous two and a half years in Washington.

“There was a couple ‘Zoo-by!” he joked, referring to linemate Dainius Zubrus. “Oh yeah, it was ‘Zooby!’

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Photo: @washcaps

Brendan Witt spent his twenties on the Washington Capitals’ blue line. From 1995 to 2006, Witt loosened fillings and racked up PIMs in the old bronze and blue uniforms. If you grew up loving the Capitals at the same I did, Witt was a big part of your childhood.

So Witt’s hourlong studio appearance on DC101’s Elliot in the Morning on Friday was a big treat. Elliot Segal and Witt exchanged stories like old friends, which I suppose they are.  They talked about pranking Dale Hunter during the 98 finals, being Chris Simon‘s roommate, Jaromir Jagr‘s work ethic, and the disparate coaching styles of Glen Hanlon, Bruce Cassidy, and Ron Wilson– some very interesting opinions on that one.

They also talk about like 73 other topics. It’s a very long, very good interview.

Video below. Get down on it.

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Nikolishin and Evgeny Kuznetsov at a child hospital in Chelyabinsk during the 2009-10 season.

Andrei Nikolishin spent parts of six seasons with the Washington Capitals from 1996-2002. Nikolishin played a crucial role for the only Caps team to make the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997-98. He’s also played with some of the franchise’s biggest (and most controversial) stars including Peter Bondra, Olie Kolzig, and Jaromir Jagr.

When he spoke with Denis Romantsev of the Sports.ru blog Soul Kitchen, Niko touched on a few topics Capitals fans should take interest in. Nikolshin dished on Jagr’s trying years in Washington, saying that the future hall of famer clashed with then-captain Adam Oates. He also talks about his relationship with former Capital defenseman Mikhail Tatarinov, who struggled with alcoholism and spent time in jail for murder after his career ended.

RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Lucic crashes into Jagr

GIF by welshhockeyfan

What did I say yesterday? Do not smite the hockey gods lest you shall pay. In game one of the Stanley Cup Finals, Jaromir Jagr hit the post in second overtime and then collided with teammate and part-time bouncer, Milan Lucic. Shades of this, amirite?

Next for Jagr: locusts!

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