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.
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.
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.
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.
23 years ago, Washington Capitals general manager David Poile drafted Slovakian winger Peter Bondra 156th overall in the 1990 NHL Draft. We remember what happened next: Bondra jumped into the Capitals line-up the next season, quickly becoming the franchise’s most prolific goal-scorer and holder of every major Caps record (until that Alex Ovechkin guy showed up). Bondra led the Caps to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1997-98.
On Saturday, several Washington Capitals players rented out Kettler Capitals IcePlex to scrimmage against local college kids. Two readers who attended, Lexi Martinez and Kate Hudson, share their experience below. Lexi did the write-up, and Kate snapped the photos. Enjoy!
Caps fans got a surprise Thursday night, when John Carlson took to Twitter to announce that he’d be joining a few teammates back on the ice at Kettler the following morning for something special. Along with Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Jeff Halpern, and former Capital Peter Bondra, John would be scrimmaging a team of college players from around the area. It was thrown together late and all for fun, but for me, it meant a little taste of the Caps hockey we’ve all been missing so much. Naturally, I was freaking out.
Peter Bondra holds up the 2002 World Championships’ trophy.
By beating the Czech Republic 3-1 in the second semifinal of the World Champs, Slovakia earned the right to play Russia, who defeated Finland earlier Saturday, for the gold medal. The Slovakians have won the Worlds once, in 2002, when they upset Russia in the final. Capitals legend Peter Bondra scored twice in that game, including the game winner with less than two minutes left in the third period of play.
Video is below the jump.
Tuesday night is a big deal. For the first time since February 10, 2008, Jaromir Jagr will play hockey at Verizon Center. Since he is perhaps the most reviled person in Washington Capitals history, there’s no way this doesn’t get ugly.
As a Pittsburgh Penguin, Jaromir Jagr finished eight seasons with more than 90 points, ran flak for Mario Lemieux, and beat the hell out of the Caps in five of six playoff series. Then something even worse happened: he became a Washington Capital.
Fans can have honest disagreement about what the dark days of the Washington Capitals actually were. No wait; they can’t. That first season going a pathetic 8-67-5 doesn’t come close to unbridled misery of the Jaromir Jagr era (October 6, 2001 – January 21, 2004). It began like this: Acquired from a broke Pittsburgh team, Jagr would earn eleven million dollars a year as a Capital.
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.
Photo by Chris Gordon
On Monday, the AHL formally inducted four new members into its American Hockey League Hall of Fame: Maurice Podoloff, Larry Wilson, Harry Pidhirny, and Mitch Lamourex. Foster Hewitt Award-winning broadcaster Mike Emrick was the master of ceremonies, while Caps’ head coach Bruce Boudreau served as the keynote speaker.
Among the honorees at the event was former Capitals great Olaf Kolzig. Kolzig, in Hershey to serve as the Eastern Conference’s Honorary Captain at the All-Star Game, was recognized for his six stellar seasons in the AHL. Olie backstopped the Rochester Americans to the Calder Cup Finals in 1993 and won the championship with the Portland Pirates in 1994, where he was also named playoffs MVP.
After the induction ceremony concluded, I caught up with Kolzig downstairs at the media luncheon in the Hershey Theatre. With the rare opportunity to speak to a childhood hero, I asked Kolzig about the Capitals’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, the playoffs meltdown last year, and why he reunited with the team after their messy divorce three seasons ago.
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