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.
Above, are highlights from the Caps Pens Alumni Game where the two-period exhibition ended in a 5-5 tie. One of my favorite All-Time Capitals, Peter Bondra, tied the game in the final few minutes with a wicked slap shot from the middle of the circles. In Bonzai’s post-game scrum with the media, he revealed that the scrimmage actually got quite intense.
On Sunday morning, the Washington Capitals and the Reston Town Center skating pavilion hosted the Mites on Ice Outdoor Classic. Some of Northern Virginia’s cutest youth hockey players from ages 4 to 7 donned Caps jerseys and played puck with some pros. There was a tournament of half-ice games, a full-ice championship game, and– from what we hear– some adorable goal celebrations.
As a bonus, the Caps also sent out alumni Alan May and Peter Bondra to give a skills demonstration, skate with fans, and sign autographs after the tournament.
I was sick with the flu and unwilling to spend the morning in the cold rain, so RMNB buds Nour H. and Lindsey N. pinched in to capture the event for me via photos. Thanks, ladies.
Prepare to have your heart-strings tugged at. The Washington Capitals participated in a public skate at the D.C. Sculpture Garden this morning. Our hero Suzanne K. was on the scene and snapped some superb pictures. If you’ve been waiting for photos of Nicky Backstrom skating hand-in-hand with adorable little girls, your wait is now over.
Elliot Segal glares as Alex Ovechkin high-fives an invisible child.
The second annual Caps Convention was held this past Saturday at the Washington Convention Center. Along with the entire Washington Capitals roster, a number of prominent alumni made appearances, including Olie Kolzig, Peter Bondra, Yvon Labre, and Rod Langway. Fans got to meet and greet their favorite players, get autographs, and demand “Happy Birthday” be sung to them.
The event was a tremendous success. RMNB’s own Neil Greenberg was there to document the day. Enjoy!