Photo: Chris Gordon

Sergei Fedorov left the Capitals in 2009, leaving a hole in the middle of the second line that the team hasn’t been able to keep filled since. There’s been Brendan Morrison and Eric Belanger and Jason Arnott and Mike Ribeiro, but no player has stuck at 2C for any length of time.

Looking at his options on Friday’s free agency frenzy, general manager George McPhee saw nothing to fill that hole. “We didn’t think it was a great class of players,” McPhee told the press after development camp practice on Monday afternoon. McPhee admitted he had a few discussions, but said that contract term was a frequent deal-breaker. “Salary you can compete with,” McPhee said, “but when people get into term that’s too long, you can ultimately hurt your competitiveness down the road.” That’s certainly in line with owner Ted Leonsis’ edict regarding signing veterans.

And so the club looked inward to fill its abscess at 2C. A nation’s capital turns its lonely eyes to Brooks Laich.

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NHL All-Stars Suffering from Concussions and Head Injuries

Special thanks to Gary Bettman for letting the guys out of the Quiet Room long enough for us to snap this pic. Enlarge. (Photo illustration by Ian Oland)

The stars of the All-Star Game were a little less bright this year. Some of the familiar faces that fans expect were absent for reasons that are becoming all too familiar in the modern NHL: head injury. Approximately 85 head injuries have been reported this year, meaning that nearly ten percent of all active players have been injured. 28 of 30 teams have reported at least one head injury, while some franchises have dealt with as many six or seven. With star center Nicklas Backstrom now sitting out due to concussion, the issue has hit close to home for Caps fans.

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Troy Brouwer

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Over the summer, General Manager George McPhee started snatching players like a rabid mom snatching groceries on Supermarket Sweeps. In are gritty NHL veterans like Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik, and Jeff Halpern. Out are fan-favorites like Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon.

Beyond the discounted signing of Tomas Vokoun, there may have been no better addition to the line-up than the Draft-night trade McPhee swung with the Chicago Blackhawks in which he landed Troy Brouwer for a first-round pick. Brouwer, who signed an affordable two-year deal worth $2,350,000 per year on July 6, was part of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup Champion squad and is known in part for his physical, hard-hitting game. The 26-year-old right wing has also been a proven scorer at every level he’s played, tallying 20 goals in the NHL, 40-plus goals in the AHL, and 100-plus points in Juniors.

So with Opening Night only a few days away, what can Caps fans reasonably expect offensively from Brouwer? Also, how about some bizarre facts about Troy that only RMNB can dig up? Follow me past the jump to find out.

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Alex Ovechkin Signs Six-Year Deal with Bauer

Ovi sports his new gear. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Bauer)

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

The world’s most famous hockey player has got some new gear. After dropping CCM over the summer, Alex Ovechkin unveiled a new six-year sponsorship with rival manufacturer Bauer, whose equipment Ovi used for the first three years of his career. This is Ovechkin’s second new sponsorship of the week after news of his long-term deal with superpower Nike for “lifestyle” and “performance” products surfaced on Thursday night.

“I think that CCM treat me well,” Ovechkin told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “They help me a lot and without that project I can’t score 65 goals. But in that kind of moment and that kind of situation right now, I feel that Bauer is company who I’m looking forward to work with. I played with this stick a couple years ago and I like it.”

The move doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. With Ovi’s ditching CCM — and therefore their parent company Reebok — that left Bauer as the only company with the cash to pickup a superstar endorsement.

The move was also teased on Bauer’s Web site over the holiday weekend, with their home page sporting a picture of skates with the Great Eight’s trademark yellow laces and the banner “This year will be different.”

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A Portrait of supposedly the 9th best Center in the NHL, Nicklas Backstrom. (Photo by Al Bello/Editing by Ian Oland of RMNB)

Adrian Dater had an interesting post naming the top 10 centers in the NHL. As you would expect with 30 teams, each with 4 centers, some big names were omitted. The ranking is also subject to much debate. Take a look:

  1. Sidney Crosby, PIT
  2. Pavel Datsyuk, DET
  3. Henrik Sedin, VAN
  4. Jonathan Toews, CHI
  5. Mike Richards, PHI
  6. Evgeni Malkin, PIT
  7. Mikko Koivu, MIN
  8. Joe Thornton, SJS
  9. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH
  10. Ryan Getzlaf, ANA

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