Nicklas Backstrom’s Beautiful Baby Boy

backstrom-baby

Visual approximation of metaphor

On Tuesday, the Washington Capitals hosted some kind of media luncheon thing and made available literally everyone in the Caps organization. That list included owner Ted Leonsis, who dropped what I initially thought was a bombshell during his press conference.

I heard him say something about Nicklas Backstrom having a new “beautiful baby boy.”

Upon closer inspection of District Sports Page’s Katie Brown tweets, however, I learned that Backstrom did not have a new child over the summer. Leonsis was just talking about how Nicklas Backstrom refers to a new addition to the Washington Capitals.

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Winter-Classic-Reveal_23

Photos: Amanda Bowen

On a bright, sunny Tuesday at Nats Park, the Washington Capitals held their grand Winter Classic jersey reveal in front of a bunch of media and select Caps season ticket holders. Not only did Caps Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby model the new sweaters on stage (oh man, I love those ties), a bunch of other news and details about the event were released too. We learned that we will actually be able to see the all-access Winter Classic show produced by EPIX, the Russian machine’s fashion sense is still one of a kind, and the history behind the new Caps classic logo is pretty darn cool.

But the most interesting part of the day was having some of the biggest NHL personalities on the same podium modeling all this cool new stuff. Amanda Bowen, who’s had quite a busy first week with RMNB, has your photos from the event.

(Please someone get me one of those toques.)

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Caps Fanfest Scrimmage (7 of 8)

Photos by Chris Gordon.

Barry Trotz wants to turn Caps Development Camp into a more polished affair, with NHL players coming in as mentors and a focus on improving little aspects each player’s game. On Saturday, the team concluded the annual camp. In addition to the final scrimmage of week, the Caps also their annual fanfest in a packed Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Though Team Red was stocked with first round picks Andre Burakovsky and Jakob Vrana, the White Team took hold of the game in the third period, scoring third goals on the route to a 7-4 win. After the game, Caps owner Ted Leonsis presented prospect Madison Bowey with the winner’s trophy, before the team held a bit of mock Stanley Cup celebration. Check out my photos below.

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Trotz MacLellan (6 of 13)

Photo: Chris Gordon

“I don’t know if I could give specifics,” Brian MacLellan said when asked how he differs from his former boss George McPhee. “He’s a good friend. He’s a character guy.”

Then MacLellan broke down. After 10 years in the NHL, MacLellan retired from league in 1992. He got an MBA, becoming an investment banker. In 2000, his old college teammate McPhee brought him back to the sport, asking him to join his young administration in Washington as a part-time scout. MacLellan accepted. Thirteen years later, MacLellan was standing up against a wall at Verizon Center having just filled McPhee job. The two talked during MacLellan’s interview process.

“You know, it’s a hard thing,” MacLellan said, gathering himself. “We’re different people. We have different personalities, different way to approach things. I think any two people are different.”

“We’re good friends,” he added. “We’re really good friends, and we’ve grown up together.”

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Trotz MacLellan (11 of 13)

Photos by Chris Gordon

When Adam Oates was introduced as the new Capitals head coach in 2012, the press conference was held in the basement of the Verizon Center. The arena’s interview room is a dingy space that brings to mind a Soviet office building. That was fitting for Oates’s tenure. On a hot Tuesday afternoon in May, Washington introduced the replacement administration. This time, they chose a more auspicious location. After being served a buffet of tilapia and oatmeal raisin cookies, media members sat down in nice padded chairs in the Acela Club to listen to Ted Leonsis, Dick Patrick, Barry Trotz, and Brian MacLellan talk about the future. I’ll have more on that later, but for now, here are my photos of the presser.

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ted-leonsis-videobomb

For those who threw their remotes out the window when the Caps season ended, you’re missing out. The Caps co-tenants at Verizon Center, the Washington Wizards, have won their first playoff series since 2005 and upset the number-one seed Indiana Pacers in game one. On Wednesday night, ahead of game two, CSN Washington’s Chris Miller did a live shot from Bankers Life Fieldhouse during Wizards Central.

And then Ted Leonsis video-bombed Miller on live TV. Troy Brouwer would be so proud.

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McPhee (10 of 14)

Photos by Chris Gordon

Monday morning, George McPhee said goodbye to an organization he’s known for 17 years.

He was charming, not bitter, during his 34-minute press conference at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Canned on Saturday, McPhee deflected blame toward himself, refusing to discuss individual performances.

“Should I start by saying fire away or is that the wrong terminology?” McPhee joked as he walked up to the podium. “I felt it was coming, but in this job, you’re 24 hours away from being fired almost any time.”

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ted-and-dick

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin

Today was a weird day. I’ve run into George McPhee many times, both as a tiny Caps fan and as an adult blogger. I really like him. And I loved Adam Oates as a player.

But, obviously, the Washington Capitals needed a change – the trade requests and the revolving door of coaches suggested serious dysfunction in the organization. Today, majority owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick hit the reset button, firing GMGM and Oates.

While some readers are openly celebrating the firings (which I totally get), this is also a painful moment for the people involved– most notably Leonsis and Patrick, whose decisions led the team down this path.

Both men spoke to the media on Saturday and you could tell it was not a press conference they enjoyed.

There wasn’t a lot of news in their words, but their faces spoke volumes.

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The Three Futures of the Washington Capitals

It’s been ten days since the Washington Capitals’ season ended and the proverbial axe has yet to fall. As of press time, both George McPhee and Adam Oates are still gainfully employed. That has some people upset.

I get it. I’m a bit surprised the team hasn’t acted yet. And this period of uncertainty doesn’t come without consequences, among them the possible loss of pending free agent Mikhail Grabovski. That would be bad, but I’m trying to see it from the owners’ perspective.

The Caps are at a fork in the road. I can see three potential futures ahead of the team, and now Ted Leonsis has to choose one. It’s a daunting decision, one that merits careful deliberation and planning. If the Caps pick incorrectly– or fail to properly execute that decision– things could get grim and dark. Things could get grimdark.

Here are all the ways I can I see it going.

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maria-ovi-kuznetsov

Photo: @a0gr8

His mother Tatyana won two Olympic gold medals in basketball for Team Russia, so Alex Ovechkin has always had a love for the sport. He’s gone to Dynamo basketball games. He’s been featured playing basketball (shirtless, of course) with his friends in his DVD. He’s even shot around with BFF Nicky Backstrom during one of Bruce Boudreau’s press conferences.

On Wednesday night, on his day off, Ovechkin took fiancee Maria Kirilenko and his new best bud in the whole wide world, Evgeny Kuznetsov, to the Wizards/Suns game at Verizon Center.

It appears they had fun.

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