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Photo: @WashCaps

Alex Ovechkin is the Washington Capitals’ all-time goal-scoring leader.

With a power-play snipe to beat Carey Price in the second period of Thursday’s Canadiens game, Alex Ovechkin scored his 473rd goal as a Capital, finally passing the great Peter Bondra.

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CongressionalHockeyChallenge (24 of 24)

Reps. John Katko, Pat Meehan, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer pose with Lawmakers teammate Peter Bondra after defeating the Lobbyists in the annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

When you hear that someone famous is a hockey fan, it has novelty, something not reserved for fans of baseball, basketball, and football. While we may be absorbed in the community, hockey is the smallest of all major professional sports in the United States. Many Americans have never watched it. Fewer have tried it. On Wednesday, however, it was featured at American’s center of power. In the afternoon, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman went to the Hill to meet with members of Congressional Hockey Caucus and announce Thurgood Marshall scholarship recipients. In the evening, four of those congressmen played in the seventh annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. Representatives John Katko (R-NY), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Pat Meehan (R-PA) competed for the Lawmakers. They were joined on their team by former Capitals player Peter Bondra (RW-Slovakia) as well as administration officials, congressional staffers and Canadian Parliament member Gord Brown.

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Photo: @CourtneyCSN

First, Caps legend Peter Bondra joined Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin in the TV booth. Then Laughlin’s daughter Courtney, who was hired by CSN Washington in the fall, got inside and took some photos with dad. This is great.

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One of my all-time favorite Capitals is Peter Bondra, so I’m so very happy to spread this news.Bonzai will participate in the ceremonial puck drop before Thursday’s home opener against the Montreal Canadiens– along with Hall of Famer Rod Langway, long-time defenseman Sylvain Cote, and everybody’s favorite color commentator, Craig Laughlin. Thursday marks the team’s actual 40th anniversary of the franchise’s first game in 1974, so that’s the reason for all the hubbub.

The Caps will also wear white alternate uniforms during the home opener that will be auctioned off during the game. A donation of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s game-used jersey can be sent to me via RMNB, ATTN: Ian Oland, I Know You Won’t Buy It For Me But It’d Be Really Awesome If You Did Street, Frederick, MD.

Are you getting excited for hockey? Peter is and I sure as hell am. We’re just two short days away!

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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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With his hat-trick goal on Tuesday, Alex Ovechkin passed Peter Bondra for the Washington Capitals franchise record in power-play goals. Lest you think Bonzai would be a poor sport, the good folks at the Caps have provided video of Bondra’s congratulatory phone call to Alex after the game.

“Hey, Bonzai! What’s happening?”

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Photo credit: Matt Slocum

When Peter Laviolette was panic-fired Monday morning for his team shooting 2.4% through three games at even strength, I laughed. Then I thought about the five-year contract they gave Vincent Lecavalier over the offseason, and I laughed some more. Then I thought about how they traded Vezina-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky one season and then bought out Ilya Bryzgalov the next, choosing to pay the Russian $23 million over the next 14 years not to play, tears started rolling down my face. Paul HoLOLmgren, you are teh best.

Once I got past that (it was difficult), I was quite happy for long-time Washington Capitals enforcer Craig Berube, who was named the Flyers’ new head coach (Not interim!).

Berube becomes the third player from the Capitals’ 1997-98 Stanley Cup Final team to become a head coach in the NHL joining former Capital captains Dale Hunter and Adam Oates. With former Caps’ 98 Cup Final players Calle Johansson and Olie Kolzig serving as assistants in Washington (Kolzig is goaltending coach), I wondered how many other players from that very-talented, overachieving team are now coaching in hockey.

The number is staggering.

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Alumni Game (26 of 29)

Hold it here! Craig Laughlin poses after scoring a tying goal late in the third. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

On a crisp Thursday night in Arlington, Virginia, a bunch of former Washington Capitals got together for the team’s first annual intersquad alumni game. Featuring players flying in from as far away as Sweden (Bengt Gustavsson) and Montana (Brendan Witt), the old Caps engaged in a spirited contest. In the end, team red prevailed 6-4 in the shootout.

The Caps have ramped the visibility in recent years, starting with the 2011 Winter Classic alumni game against the Penguins. Now, though, the quality of the players participating is much improved, featuring a Hall of Fame member and a few All Stars. Granted, most of the elite players are part of the team’s current coaching staff (Adam Oates, Olie Kolzig, and Calle Johansson), but Peter Bondra, Rod Langway, Yvon Labre, and even Kevin Kaminski also participated.

Below, take a look at my photos from the night.

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Great form. (Photo credit: Caps Instagram)

Friday night, Washington Capitals legend and 500-goal scorer Peter Bondra threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Potomac Nationals game in some weird place called Woodbridge, Virginia (probably doesn’t even have a wooden bridge). Bonzai signed autographs and posed for photos with Caps fans before and during the game.

“I am a little bit nervous,” Bondra revealed to Monumental Network before he participated in the first pitch ceremony. “I wish I had a little board and a hockey stick and puck. That make it easy. But I try to hit target.”

Bonzai was likely anxious because he never played baseball as a kid. He also threw out the first pitch at a Frederick Keys game in the past and his toss was a little bit wild.

Nonetheless, the Caps legend (who you can see play at the upcoming Caps Alumni Game, Thursday, September 19th) found his courage and took the field. After meeting the other first pitch honorees, he chose to go last. “I will see what you do and I will do same,” Bondra told them.

Once the Caps legend was told to take the mound, he faked a side-armed heave and then quickly threw the ball to the catcher.

“I think I hit the target,” Bondra said of his low and outside pitch. “The catcher didn’t have to lean too far. I didn’t want to throw wild pitch. That would be embarrassing.” Indeed.

Below, check out video of his toss and a bunch of photos from Hockey Night at Pfitzner Stadium. Reminder: Carolina League baseball RULES!

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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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