To All the Caps I’ve Loved Before

goodbye

There’s really no need to read this piece. Your life will be no better for having read what’s below. Your life might actually get worse. You should probably stop right now.

(Last chance.)

So the Caps have freed some players over the last few years, and it feels like all of them have turned into beautiful hockey butterflies. The team had good reasons to trade or release some guys; others… not so much. In this still very young season, those hockey butterflies are playing so good it’s like they’re trying to make you jealous. Well, it’s not going to work, hockey butterflies.

Okay, yeah, it is.

I’m gonna take a peek around the league, in a totally non-Facebook-stalker-y way, just to see how certain ex-Caps forwards are doing in their new homes. Pretty freaking well, it turns out. Starting with prospect-bust-turned-Calder-standout Filip Forsberg, lemme run down who has moved on and how they’re doing.

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BAP Golf: The Saddest Hockey Cards You’ll Ever See

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As a kid (and definitely definitely not as an adult), I was a collector of hockey cards. I took pride in my Capitals collection. Like, I have every Pat Peake card ever made, and I don’t even care what you think.

The other night I was cleaning up my office downstairs and I noticed the above card of still Capitals coach Adam Oates, which I had completely forgotten. Please note that’s not Oatesy swinging a hockey stick – that’s a golf club. And he’s also wearing those high-waisted jeans again.

This card was produced by Be A Player (now owned by In the Game), which was a wildly popular brand of trading cards back in the day because it included so many autographs in their sets. I thought Be A Player would become one of the titans in the industry, but I can tell you when things started to go very, very wrong: in 2002-03 when they produced these hideous golf card inserts.

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erat

This is an image of Martin Erat, a professional hockey player, after scoring a “goal.”

Capitals pariah Martin Erat was shipped out of townat his request– at the trade deadline. Disappointing everyone with his performance in Washington since the Filip Forsberg trade in April of 2013, Erat never really found a spot in the Caps lineup. (Or maybe he just got limited ice time, weaker linemates, and a rigid coach who didn’t exploit his talents, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Erat scored just one goal in 2013-14 as a Capital– an empty netter right before the Olympic break. If you count own goals, make it two. Oof.

So what did we think would happen once he got out of town? Of course he would score. Of. Freaking. Course. That’s just freaking priceless.

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Photo: Mark Buckner

(Photo: Mark Buckner)

Coming into the 2014 NHL trade deadline, some fans feared Caps general manager George McPhee would make a drastic move in the hopes of securing a playoff spot. Instead, he made three reasonable ones. The Caps got better this year without harming themselves in the future.

The biggest deal was the final one, with the Caps sending Michal Neuvirth and the newly acquired Rostislav Klesla to the Buffalo Sabres for Caps killer Jaroslav Halak and a third-round pick.

“I think we start with Neuvirth, and he wasn’t happy being a number two,” McPhee told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “We tried to accommodate him. We brought in an experienced guy. I think it’s an upgrade on the tandem which is what we wanted to accomplish.”

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Photo: @a0gr8

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin just shared the last photo you’ll ever see of Michal Neuvirth and Martin Erat as Capitals.

“Last dinner with boys, and they gone!!” Ovi wrote on Instagram. “Good luck to them, and welcome new players to the team!” Neuvy is now off to Buffalo, where more playing time and opportunity await, and Erat to Phoenix, where at least it’s warmer.

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Patrick Smith - Erat

Photo: Patrick Smith

This was inevitable.

Capitals forward Martin Erat has been traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Rostislav Klelsa, Chris Brown and a fourth-round draft pick. Capitals prospect Garrett John Mitchell was also included in the deal.

Acquired at the 2013 deadline along with Michael Latta in exchange for Caps prospect Filip Forsberg, Erat played 61 regular season games for the Capitals, recording 2 goals and 24 assists.

Considered a disappointment by many, Erat still managed to rank second in even-strength assists and improve the team’s possession stats.

Erat’s 2013 season was limited by injury. As 2013-14 began, Erat had fallen out of favor with coach Adam Oates. Assigned to the fourth line for the first few weeks, Erat was not used as the top-six forward he was purported to be, and his stats suffered. He did not score until the final game before the Olympic break, an empty-netter.

After several games as a scratch, Erat requested a trade on November 25th. It took three months, but that trade has finally come through.

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Flag mouthguards are the best.

Before today, Martin Erat‘s goals this year went like this: nothing for four months, accidentally scored on own team’s net, empty-netter. He literally hadn’t scored on an opponent’s net that had an actual goalie in it since April of last year. So, naturally every cynical Caps fan on the planet knew how his Erat’s Olympic tournament would go.

It was just inevitable that he’d break through on international ice, and that’s exactly what happened in the early morning hours of Friday. While you were sleeping, Erat scored the Czech Republic’s first goal in a 4-2 win over the Latvians.

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Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Team Sweden took on the Czech Republic in the first men’s hockey game of the Olympics. It was a total beatdown. Erik Karlsson, playing in his first Olympiad, scored two goals. Henrik Lundqvist had 27 saves in the win.

But what about the Caps, Ian? What about the Caps?

Nicklas Backstrom had a point in 15:15 of ice time. The marker came in the second period when Nicky assisted on Karlsson’s second goal of the night.

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EratGoal

Photo: Evan Vucci

Martin Erat has played on every line for the Washington Capitals. He’s seen power play time and PK minutes. And, of course, he’s sat in the press box. Playing on the first line Saturday, in his 51st game this season, Erat finally scored a goal. Fittingly, it came without a goalie in the net.

“Finally, the one is in the net,” Erat told the gathering of Caps reporters, who had reentered the Capitals locker room after Adam Oates ended his press conference just to talk to him.

Erat’s time in DC, as we all know, has been ill-fated. Traded for a top prospect in Filip Forsberg last season, he asked to leave eight months later after being placed on the fourth line by Oates. With Brooks Laich back in the lineup after missing almost all of last year, Oates didn’t see much of a need for Erat, who, for the first time in the veteran’s career, was made healthy scratch.

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carlson-john-kerry

United States Secretary of State John Kerry is in the house tonight and boy is he a busy dude. After meeting with Washington Capitals Olympians Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, and Martin Erat, Kerry talked shopped with Caps coach and hockey hall of famer Adam Oates, who used to play for Kerry’s beloved Boston Bruins. Kerry also did an interview for CRL with Elliot In The Morning, accepted a Caps jersey from Majority Owner Ted Leonsis, and then dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game.

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