A Primer to the Washington Capitals 2011-2012 Season

Primer to the 2011-12 Capitals Season

If you took a break from hockey after May 4th, when the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs, we completely understand. It was rough. But the new season is here, along with reasons for renewed hope. So in case you’ve been avoiding hockey in general and this blog in particular, we’ve prepared a primer to catch you up.

Here is everything you need to know about the Washington Capitals but were afraid to ask (2011-2012 edition).

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

On Saturday, the Washington Capitals hosted their third annual Capitals Convention. A sold-out crowd of over 6,000 fans descended on the spacious confines of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to get autographs, pose for photos, and have questions answered by their favorite players.

Ted Leonsis, a mastermind behind the yearly event, was ecstatic for the turn-out. “That we’re able to sell out everything we touch really shows how wonderful the fan support is and my goal is to build a team as good as our fan base,” he said.

And really. What’s not to love? There were so many great moments. A few of our favorites: the Knuble’s Knights got knighted by GM George McPhee, Brooks Laich’s mom Jane participated in “The Support it Takes to Make it to the NHL” panel, and Braden Holtby and Jay Beagle played floor hockey with some kids. And oh yeah, this too.

“Hockey players are so approachable,” Bruce Boudreau said. “They could be walking amongst [the crowd] and they’ll sit down and talk to you. I think it means a lot to [the fans] that they are so human.”

Below are my pictures of from the day including Alex Ovechkin giving out some free hugs, Mike Green signing a baby, and a lot of smiling players — and when I mean a lot, I’m talking some sort of world record.

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I Don’t Hate Jeff Halpern

Jeff Halpern

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

Fan-favorite Jeff Halpern, who captained the Washington Capitals during the 2005-06 season, was signed this offseason to a one-year deal for $825,000.

Last year Halpern logged the second-most shorthanded minutes (2:20) per-game among Montreal’s forwards and also finished second on the team in faceoff percentage (56.9%). His 11 goals and 26 points were his most since the lockout ended, and he is expected to center the fourth line and see time on the penalty kill.

“He got 26 points last year, which is more than we got out of that position last year,” General Manager George McPhee said when Washington signed Halpern in July. “We want players to be able to fulfill certain roles but also generate offense.”

At the risk of being sacrilegious I am here to say, please, keep your expectations low. Very low.

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Olie Kolzig

Kolzig smiles during his first press conference in D.C. as a coach (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

Last Thursday, the Capitals’ new associate goaltending coach Olie Kolzig joined Elliot Segal on DC101’s Elliot In The Morning. The former fan-favorite goalie spoke favorably about his new gig and dished out plenty of interesting information in the interview, including Phillipp Grubauer’s potential landing spot next season, Braden Holtby’s tough situation, his thoughts on free-agent signee Tomas Vokoun, and much, much more. Check it out below the jump!

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Caps trade Eric Fehr to Winnipeg

Fehr scored two goals in the Winter Classic and was named the #2 star of the game. (Photo credit: Jamie Sabau)

Just after 5pm Friday, the Caps made waves around the hockey world, announcing they had traded right wing Eric Fehr to Winnipeg for the Jets’ fourth-round pick in the 2012 Draft and prospect Danick Paquette.

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Photo credit: John McDonnell

Five years ago to the day, Jeff Halpern signed the first big-time contract of his career, a four-year, $8 million pact with the Dallas Stars. The contract took Halpern, who had just completed the most prolific two year stretch of his career (90 points in 149 games), away from his hometown team, and left Washington without a captain.

When Mike Luit, Halpern’s agent, addressed the signing with the Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir, he said, “It took Jeff a very long time to come to this decision. He said to me, ‘No matter which way I go, when I sign a contract, I’m going to feel sick.'”

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Free Agency Flustercluck Open Thread

Here’s where all the action happens. Lots of things cooking today.

Japers’ has a great primer on who in the Caps system is up for grabs: Arnott, Sturm, Hannan, Gordon, Brouwer, Bradley, Alzner, Varlamov.

We’ll update this post with each development relevant to the Caps, and you can share your panic-struck ravings in the comments.

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kolzig

Rumors, and for us Caps fans – despair, fill up most of the downtime until we wait for the puck to drop again in October. Some of us speculate on which UFA will be (re)signed, some of us debate hotness of hockey players with or without teeth and some of us debate who’s sweater should hang in the rafters of The Phone Booth.

Olaf Kölzig spent 16 years as a Washington Capital — including six appearances as their goalie in the playoffs. He owns many of the franchise’s meaningful goalie records (GP, W, SO, Pts, SVs and SV%). Should the Caps honor the now-retired Kölzig by hoisting his jersey to the Verizon Center rafters?

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