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Dorsey’s Dugout- USA Helps Soccer and Caps Make Moves

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Dorsey’s Dugout- USA Helps Soccer and Caps Make Moves

Posted on 02 July 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

USA

All of America was on the edge of their seats once the United States and Belgium match went to extra time. Despite the 2-1 loss in the first round of the World Cup sweet sixteen, that same excitement for soccer in this country will only grow.

The United States does not have the same kind of intensity within its fan base as the other countries in the World Cup, but this team might have changed the popularity of the sport going forward. A team that was not given a lick of a chance to advance out of the group of death, team USA silenced the critics and gave the fans across the country something to be proud of.

When team USA went down 2-0 in extra time to Belgium, the life was sucked out of the American fan base and their World Cup hopes had diminished. All the excitement that Klinsmanns squad brought to all of America seemed to be lost. Then Julian Green scored a goal off of a wonderful pass from Michael Bradley.

Even though the one goal was not enough to force a round of penalty kicks, it gave the team hope. Not only did Julian Greens goal give hope at a chance for a comeback, but also the goal symbolized hope for the game of soccer in this country.

Team USA does not have the talent that the other world powers have in the World Cup. Other teams feature their best athletes within the country to represent their nation. Since the United States has other professional leagues like the NFL and NBA, the best athletes in the country do not play for Team USA soccer.

While team USA does not have the same talent as the other world powers, they showed the heart needed to compete on the big stage. They tied one of the best teams in the world that featured soccers second best player and only lost by one to Germany who is amongst the worlds best.

The fact that the United States was able to advance out of the group of death and other soccer powers such as Spain, England, Italy and Portugal could not is astonishing. There are a lot of positives to come away with from the performance of the American squad and it will for sure carry over to the next Cup.

It was Jurgen Klinsmanns first opportunity as head coach for Team USA and he got the job done well. He made good adjustments during games within group play and came away with good results. The former German athlete did a great job in his first appearance as head coach for team USA and the fans will sure be by his side as the next Cup approaches.

T.J. Oshie was the American “hero” during the Olympic games in hockey for his performance in the shootout against Russia. After the stellar performance, Oshie was a household name everywhere in America. The same situation came to be when USA goalkeeper Tim Howard had a record-breaking match against Belgium.

Sure Howard has been the goalie for team USA the past few World Cups, but Clint Dempsey was the biggest name when it came to USA soccer. After the Belgium match, Howard is being called a hero for his incredible individual performance. With Howard now being recognized as a household name similar to Oshie, now fans in America might check out the goaltender play some in the English premiere league.

There are so many different parts of this team that make for a brighter future for soccer in this country. There is a plethora of young talent, new stars that have been born and a solid coach in control of it all. With all that being said, not only does team USA have a bright future, but also the popularity of soccer in the country.

Grading Capitals Free Agency Moves

The free agency period in the NHL kicked into high gear July 1st at noon and the Washington Capitals made several moves. New General manager Brian MacLellan got his first crack at making decisions at the helm and started the first day off with a few signings.

Washington had several needs heading into free agency such as finding a top-4 defenseman, a veteran backup goalie and a second line center. MacLellan began the day by signing veteran backup Justin Peters from the Carolina Hurricanes.

Peters, 27 years old, got to play in twenty-one games last season and finished with a .919 save percentage. This is a good addition to the Caps roster for several reasons.

The message being sent to Braden Holtby with this signing is that he is clearly the number one goalie on the team. Peters is a career backup who is trying to prove he is amongst the top tier backup goalies in the league. This should come to be no threat to Holtby as he will be leading the team onto the ice this year.

The best part about this deal is that it is cap-friendly. Peters signed a 2-year deal for $1.9 million that comes to be about $950,000 a season. Finding a veteran backup for this cost allows for Washington to make other moves during free agency. Grading the Justin Peters signing, a B- is a fair grade.

Brian MacLellan was not done after the Peters signing as he added two pieces to the biggest weakness on the roster. Two former Pittsburgh Penguin defensemen were added to the Capitals top six rotation. One is considered a good signing and the other is a bit of a head scratcher.

Brooks Orpik, 33, signed a 5-year deal with the Capitals worth $27.5 million. This addition to the team came to be a huge surprise  for many reasons. Orpik is 33 years old and is on the down side of his career. What makes this deal not so sexy is the money and longevity of the deal. Paying a player past his prime $5.5 million a year is quite risky. It also does not make sense giving a player who is 33 years of age a five-year deal.

Although there are a few negatives to the signing of Orpik, he does bring some qualities that will help this Capitals team. The former Penguin has been one of the assistant captains for Pittsburgh since 2008. He has been in a leadership role for several years and the Caps could use more leaders especially on the defensive end.

Most of the Capitals blue liners favor playing a style in which they like to carry the puck. They are considered finesse defenders and Orpik is the opposite of that. Brooks Orpik is the physical kind of defenseman that Washington needs. The Brooks Orpik signing gets a C- grade.

Joining fellow Pittsburgh teammate in Washington is new Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen. The former Penguin cashed in on a seven-year deal worth $40.25 million that equates to a $5.75 cap hit per year. Niskanen finished the 2013-14 regular season with 46 total points and a +33 rating. Niskanen is a very similar defender to what the Caps current defensive roster already has.

This was the best addition that new general manager Brian MacLellan made all day during the first bit of free agency. The Caps are getting a defender who is 27 years old and is in the prime of his career. He is a versatile defender who also has a good plus/minus rating. Niskanen was expected to get $6 million or more per season when he hit the market, but Washington managed to get him just under that range.

With the additions of Orpik and Niskanen, the team’s biggest weakness has been repaired. Last season featured a never-ending cycle of defensemen getting their chances to start. The Caps often called up prospects from Hershey to start at the blue line, but those times look to be done.

The defensive pairings look to be Carlson-Alzner, Niskanen-Orpik and Green-Orlov. The pairings could change as Orpik does have experience playing with Carlson during the Olympics. As of now, those pairings have a chance to resemble what it will look like when the team hits the ice this season.

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Capitals select Vrana in first round of NHL Entry Draft

Posted on 28 June 2014 by WNST Staff

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals selected forward Jakub Vrana with the 13th overall selection in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Vrana, 18, was ranked fourth overall among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. The Prague, Czech Republic, native spent the 2013-14 season with Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and split the season between the senior team and junior team. Vrana registered three points (two goals, one assists) and two penalty minutes in 24 games with the senior team and collected 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) and 26 penalty minutes in 24 games with Linkoping’s junior club.

Vrana has represented the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship twice (2013, 2014) and at the Under-18 World Championships three times (2012, 2013, 2014). He led the Czech Republic in scoring at the 2012 and 2014 Under-18 World Championships and ranked first in goals (8) and third in points (10) among all skaters at 2014 tournament, including the overtime winner in the quarterfinal as the Czech Republic captured a silver medal. At the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, Vrana earned four points (three goals, one assist), including a goal and assist in the bronze-medal game to lead the Czech Republic to victory. It was the country’s first top-three finish at the tournament, which they co-host, since 2005.

 

NHL.COM PROSPECT PAGE

Vrana: http://www.nhl.com/ice/draftprospectdetail.htm?cat=2&dpid=72641&sort=finalRank&year=2014

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Lambert rejoins Trotz as assistant coach for Capitals

Posted on 27 June 2014 by WNST Staff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 27, 2014

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals have named Lane Lambert assistant coach, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

Lambert, 49, spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators. Lambert was responsible for the team’s forwards and penalty kill. In his first season with the Predators in 2011-12, Lambert helped guide Nashville to the NHL’s fifth-best record during the regular season and finish among the top 10 in goals, goals against and penalty kill efficiency.

Prior to joining the Predator’s coaching staff, Lambert served as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL) from 2007-11. Lambert led the club to a 178-103-39 record, the sixth-most wins in the AHL in that span, while giving up the second-fewest goals (821) in the league. Milwaukee posted 40-or-more wins and 90-or-more points all four seasons under Lambert, making them the first team in AHL history to reach those marks in eight consecutive campaigns. In addition to four straight Calder Cup playoff berths, Lambert helped the Admirals capture a pair of West Division titles and post the Western Conference’s highest point total in 2010-11 (102 pts, 44-22-14 record). He also captured a division title in 2008-09 when he led the team to a 49-22-9 record, tying for the most points (107) in the AHL. The win total tied a club record since the team joined the AHL for the 2001-02 campaign.

Prior to joining the Admirals as an assistant coach in 2006-07, the Melfort, Saskatchewan, native spent one season as an assistant for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the New York Islanders’ AHL affiliate. Lambert started his coaching career in the Western Hockey League, spending parts of two seasons as head coach of the Prince George Cougars (2003-05) and parts of two campaigns as an assistant for the Moose Jaw Warriors (2002-04).

Lambert was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round, 25th overall, in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. He finished his NHL career with 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) and 521 penalty minutes in 283 games with Detroit, the New York Rangers and Quebec from 1983-89. Lambert enjoyed his most successful NHL campaign with the Nordiques in 1987-88, recording career-highs in points (41) and assists (28) in 61 contests. Lambert won an AHL Calder Cup title with Adirondack in 1986 and helped the Houston Aeros claim the IHL’s Turner Cup championship in 1999.

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Capitals announce 2014-2015 regular season schedule

Posted on 22 June 2014 by WNST Staff

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals will host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1 and open the season against the Montreal Canadiens at Verizon Center on Thursday, Oct. 9, the National Hockey League and Washington Capitals announced today. The game will mark the NHL’s seventh Winter Classic and Washington’s second appearance in the outdoor game. The Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in front of 68,111 fans at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Jan. 1, 2011.

Washington is 24-15-5-1 all-time at home against Chicago, including a 4-0 win over the Blackhawks on April 11 at Verizon Center. Further details on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic including venue, ticketing information and uniform design for each team will be released in the coming months. Every Washington Capitals full-season account holder will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Details on ticket availability and pricing will be sent to full season-ticket holders when they become available.

The NHL also announced the 2014-15 regular season schedule for its 30 member clubs. The NHL will pause for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game, which will be held on Jan. 24-25 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The Capitals will host the St. Louis Blues at Verizon Center on Feb. 1, marking the eighth time in the last nine seasons and the seventh consecutive season the Capitals will host a game on Super Bowl Sunday.

Washington has four homestands of at least three games on the schedule, the longest being a five-game stretch at Verizon Center from March 5-15. The Capitals have eight stretches of at least three consecutive road games and a season-high four-game road trip from Feb. 11-17. In addition, the Capitals will have 16 sets of back-to-back games.

Nearly half of the Capitals’ 41 home games at Verizon Center fall on weekends, which includes four games on Friday, nine on Saturday and six on Sunday. The schedule features holiday home games on the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 28 vs. NY Islanders), New Year’s Day (Jan. 1 vs. Chicago) and Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1 vs. St. Louis).

Television broadcast plans will be released at a later date. All Capitals games can be heard on Caps Radio Network (flagship stations FAN 106.7 and 1500 AM), WashingtonCaps.com and on Washington Caps mobile app.

 

HOME DATES TO REMEMBER:

  • OCT. 9 – Season opener at Verizon Center versus the Montreal Canadiens.
  • OCT. 29 – The Detroit Red Wings make their first of two visits to Verizon Center in 2014-15.
  • JAN1 – Washington hosts the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone Winter Classic.
  • JAN. 28 – The Pittsburgh Penguins make their first visit of the season to Verizon Center.
  • FEB. 1 – On Super Bowl Sunday, the St. Louis Blues make their way to D.C.
  • FEB. 3 – Washington welcomes the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
  • MARCH 11 – The defending Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers visit D.C. for the first time.
  • MARCH 28 – The Capitals face head coach Barry Trotz’s former team, the Nashville Predators.
  • APRIL 11 – Washington concludes the regular-season at Verizon Center against the New York Rangers.

 

OCTOBER

THU, OCT. 9           MONTREAL              7 P.M.

Sat, Oct. 11            at Boston               7 p.m.

TUE, OCT. 14         SAN JOSE               7 P.M.

THU, OCT. 16         NEW JERSEY          7 P.M.

SAT, OCT. 18          FLORIDA                  7 P.M.

Wed, Oct. 22         at Edmonton          9:30 p.m.

Sat, Oct. 25            at Calgary              10 p.m.

Sun, Oct. 26           at Vancouver          10 p.m.

WED. OCT. 29        DETROIT                  7:30 P.M.


NOVEMBER

Sat, Nov. 1             at Tampa Bay        7 p.m.

SUN, NOV. 2           PHOENIX                7 P.M.

TUE, NOV. 4           CALGARY                7 P.M.

Fri, Nov. 7             at Chicago              8:30 p.m.

SAT, NOV. 8            CAROLINA              8 P.M.

TUE, NOV. 11         COLUMBUS            7 P.M.

FRI, NOV. 14           NEW JERSEY          7 P.M.

Sat, Nov. 15           at St. Louis             8 p.m.

Tue, Nov. 18         at Phoenix             9 p.m.

Thu, Nov. 20         at Colorado            9 p.m.

SAT, NOV. 22          BUFFALO                 7 P.M.

Wed, Nov. 26        at NY Islanders      7 p.m.

FRI, NOV. 28           NY ISLANDERS        5 P.M.

Sat, Nov. 29           at Toronto             7 p.m.

 

DECEMBER

TUE, DEC. 2           VANCOUVER            7 P.M.

Thu, Dec. 4            at Carolina             7 p.m.

Sat, Dec. 6             at New Jersey         7 p.m.

Tue, Dec. 9            at Tampa Bay        7:30 p.m.

THU, DEC. 11         COLUMBUS            7 P.M.

SAT, DEC. 13          TAMPA BAY           7 P.M.

Tue, Dec. 16          at Florida               7:30 p.m.

Thu, Dec. 18          at Columbus           7 p.m.

Sat, Dec. 20           at New Jersey         7 p.m.

MON, DEC. 22        OTTAWA                 7 P.M.

Tue, Dec. 23          at NY Rangers        7 p.m.

Sat. Dec. 27           at Pittsburgh          7 p.m.

Mon, Dec. 29         at NY Islanders      7 p.m.

 

JANUARY

THU, JAN. 1           CHICAGO                1 P.M.

SUN, JAN. 4           FLORIDA                  3 P.M.

Wed, Jan. 7            at Toronto             7 p.m.

Thu, Jan. 8             at Philadelphia       7 p.m.

SAT, JAN. 10          DETROIT                  7 P.M.

MON, JAN. 12        COLORADO              7 P.M.

WED, JAN. 14        PHILADELPHIA        8 P.M.

Fri, Jan. 16             at Nashville            8 p.m.

Sat, Jan. 17            at Dallas                 8 p.m.

TUE, JAN. 20         EDMONTON             7 P.M.

Tue, Jan. 27           at Columbus           7 p.m.

WED, JAN. 28        PITTSBURGH            8 P.M.

Sat, Jan. 31            at Montreal            1 p.m.

 

FEBRUARY

SUN, FEB. 1           ST. LOUIS               1 P.M.

TUE, FEB. 3            LOS ANGELES         7 P.M.

Thu, Feb. 5            at Ottawa               7:30 p.m.

FRI, FEB. 6             ANAHEIM              7 P.M.

SUN, FEB. 8           PHILADELPHIA        3 P.M.

Wed, Feb. 11          at San Jose             10:30 p.m.

Sat, Feb. 14            at Los Angeles       10:30 p.m.

Sun, Feb. 15           at Anaheim            8 p.m.

Tue, Feb. 17           at Pittsburgh          7 p.m.

THU, FEB. 19         WINNIPEG             7 P.M.

SAT, FEB. 21          NY ISLANDERS        12:30 P.M.

Sun, Feb. 22           at Philadelphia       3 p.m.

WED, FEB. 25        PITTSBURGH            8 P.M.

Fri, Feb. 27            at Carolina             7 p.m.

 

MARCH

SUN, MARCH 1       TORONTO                 7 P.M.

Tue, March 3         at Columbus           7 p.m.

THU, MARCH 5       MINNESOTA            7 P.M.

SAT, MARCH 7        BUFFALO                 7 P.M.

WED, MARCH 11    NY RANGERS         8 P.M.

FRI, MARCH 13       DALLAS                   7 P.M.

SUN, MARCH 15     BOSTON                  TBD

Mon, March 16      at Buffalo               7 p.m.

Thu, March 19       at Minnesota          8 p.m.

Sat, March 21        at Winnipeg           7 p.m.

THU, MARCH 26     NEW JERSEY          7 P.M.

SAT, MARCH 28      NASHVILLE              12:30 P.M.

Sun, March 29        at NY Rangers        3 p.m.

TUE, MARCH 31      CAROLINA              7 P.M.


APRIL

Thu, April 2           at Montreal            7:30 p.m.

Sat, April 4            at Ottawa               7 p.m.

Sun, April 5            at Detroit               5 p.m.

WED, APRIL 8        BOSTON                  8 P.M.

SAT, APRIL 11        NY RANGERS         3 P.M.

 

All Times Eastern

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Bovada gives Capitals 33/1 odds to win 2015 Stanley Cup

Posted on 16 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV)

Odds to win the 2015 Stanley Cup

Chicago Blackhawks                             7/1

Boston Bruins                                       8/1

Los Angeles Kings                                9/1

Pittsburgh Penguins                              10/1

St. Louis Blues                                      121

Anaheim Ducks                                     14/1

San Jose Sharks                                   14/1

New York Rangers                                 16/1

Colorado Avalanche                              18/1

Minnesota Wild                                     20/1

Montreal Canadiens                               20/1

Detroit Red Wings                                 22/1

Tampa Bay Lightning                             25/1

Vancouver Canucks                               25/1

Philadelphia Flyers                                28/1

Dallas Stars                                         33/1

Toronto Maple Leafs                             33/1

Washington Capitals                              33/1

Columbus Blue Jackets                         40/1

New Jersey Devils                                 40/1

Edmonton Oilers                                   50/1

Ottawa Senators                                    50/1

Phoenix Coyotes                                   50/1

Winnipeg Jets                                       50/1

Calgary Flames                                     66/1

Carolina Hurricanes                                66/1

Nashville Predators                               66/1

New York Islanders                                66/1

Florida Panthers                                    75/1

Buffalo Sabres                                      100/1

Odds to win 2015 NBA Championship   

Miami Heat                                            3/1

Oklahoma City Thunder                          6/1

San Antonio Spurs                                6/1

Los Angeles Clippers                            9/1

Chicago Bulls                                        12/1

Indiana Pacers                                      12/1

Houston Rockets                                  16/1

Golden State Warriors                           25/1

Portland Trailblazers                              25/1

Brooklyn Nets                                       28/1

Cleveland Cavaliers                               33/1

Dallas Mavericks                                   33/1

Memphis Grizzlies                                 33/1

Washington Wizards                              33/1

Los Angeles Lakers                               40/1

New York Knicks                                   40/1

Toronto Raptors                                    40/1

Boston Celtics                                      50/1

Denver Nuggets                                    50/1

Detroit Pistons                                      50/1

New Orleans Pelicans                            50/1

Minnesota Timberwolves                        66/1

Atlanta Hawks                                       75/1

Charlotte Hornets                                  75/1

Phoenix Suns                                        75/1

Orlando Magic                                      150/1

Sacramento Kings                                 150/1

Utah Jazz                                             150/1

Milwaukee Bucks                                   200/1

Philadelphia 76ers                                 200/1

 

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Capitals trade G Halak to Islanders for draft pick

Posted on 01 May 2014 by WNST Staff

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals have acquired a fourth-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft from the New York Islanders in exchange for the rights to goaltender Jaroslav Halak, assistant general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. The fourth-round selection was acquired by New York from Chicago.

Halak, 28, posted a 29-13-7 record with five shutouts, a 2.25 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 52 games with Washington and St. Louis this season. The Bratislava, Slovakia, native was acquired by the Capitals from Buffalo with a third-round choice in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla on March 5, 2014. Halak has registered a 144-85-29 record in his career with 30 shutouts, a 2.38 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

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Next GM Most Important Decision in Caps Franchise History

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Next GM Most Important Decision in Caps Franchise History

Posted on 28 April 2014 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals have been in existence for 39 years and they still have not won a Stanley Cup.

With their team spiraling further away from winning Lord Stanley, Caps Owner Ted Leonsis and Team President Dick Patrick fired both General Manager George McPhee and Head Coach Adam Oates on Saturday.

Those moves were no surprise, especially if you read my blog from two weeks ago. The Capitals have a flawed and unbalanced roster that became even more exposed under some questionable coaching decisions this past season.

Simply put, these moves had to be made and Leonsis stated that the team needed new leadership and “a new set of eyes.”

The hiring of the next GM is critical to this franchise given that star players Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, who are both signed to long term contracts, are in the prime seasons of their career. McPhee and company were unable to put a quality team around those two players and as a result much criticism has fallen on them, especially the Gr8.

Some who cover the NHL have already tweeted or blogged that this is Ovechkin’s fault. When you make the money he makes, have won the MVP three times, aren’t of North American descent, and haven’t won a Stanley Cup yet, those things will happen. It’s an easy narrative for those who choose to be lazy and biased.

But those who’ve studied and watched this Washington team since 2008 know the real story. Fancy stats clearly show that this team’s puck possession statistics have steadily declined since 2009, after Sergei Fedorov left for Russia. The decline is a function of an eroding roster, particularly on defense, and poor coaching/system changes. None of those roster or system decisions were made by Ovechkin.

Hall of Famer Rod Langway used to always tell me that hockey starts from the goalie to the defense and then to the forwards. If your defense routinely can’t get the puck out of your own end, how are the forwards going to produce with any consistency at even strength? Washington’s overall blue line crew has gotten worse over the past several seasons.

Bottom line, as I wrote two weeks ago, the Caps have failed Ovechkin, not the other way around.

For those who still want to put a vast amount of blame on him I pose the following question:

If I gave you the choice of any other forward in the NHL in place of Ovechkin for the last three seasons, would the Capitals have won a Stanley Cup or even made the Finals?

That’s right, you could have Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby, etc. but you lose Ovechkin in that move. Do you think the Capitals win a Stanley Cup doing that?

No way, not with the rest of that roster.

Hockey is a team sport. So blaming Ovechkin for the team’s decline is absolutely incorrect.

Now that’s not saying that the Gr8 can’t improve his game. Every player can always get better. NBA great Larry Bird used to spend every summer working on new moves, so if Bird thought he needed to improve, every player certainly should be trying to do so, as well.

Fortunately for Caps fans, the ownership, despite making it clear that these moves weren’t done solely for Ovechkin, get that the Gr8 is a special player. When I asked both Leonsis and Patrick about the pressure and abuse that Ovechkin takes, Patrick was quick to defend him and point out the nature of the NHL.

“Alex Ovechkin is a great, great hockey player,” Patrick said. “I wish we had two of him, then we wouldn’t even be here today, probably. All he wants to do is win. People are saying, ‘Well, you’ve got Alex Ovechkin. How come you haven’t won a Cup?’ It does take a team. It takes 20 guys. How can you be unhappy with what Alex Ovechkin has accomplished and continues to accomplish in the National Hockey League?”

Patrick is bang on and that is why it is so crucial to get a GM that really understands how to build a team. The “new set of eyes” needs to help alleviate the pressure on its two stars by bringing in better players, particularly on the blue line, and by adding leaders with winning experience.

As the great Jim Ignatowski once said on Taxi, “There is no substitute for experience!”

That brings me to my next point. The trend in sports is to seek out the next “hot” assistant and give him the keys to the camper. We see it with GM positions and head coaching openings many times in pro sports.

Jim Benning of Boston is a name that is on the top of the “next GM” list for many NHL clubs, according to people I’ve spoken with around the league. There are other hot assistants out there too like Ron Hextall, Jason Botterill, and Tim Burke.

But would hiring another hockey person with no GM experience be the right move here?

Hmmm…..

Sometimes bringing in a person that has performed in that role previously is the better choice, even if they’ve been fired. After all, Joe Torre and Bill Belichick were both fired but went on to win multiple championships with their new teams. Simply put, there is something to be said for learning from past mistakes.

So shouldn’t names like Mike Gillis, Neil Smith, and Craig Button garner attention? All have been a GM before and both Smith and Button have Stanley Cup winning experience, Smith as GM of the Rangers in 1994 and Button as the Director of Player Personnel with Dallas in 1999.

To me, Button is an intriguing option. He has ties to the organization from his late father Jack, who played a prominent role in the drafting and development of personnel in Washington from 1979 to 1996. Craig worked closely for years with Bob Gainey and Doug Armstrong in Dallas taking a team that was built around young players Mike Modano, Derian Hatcher, and Richard Matvichuck and transformed it into a Stanley Cup Champion. He understands the microscope Ovechkin and Backstrom are under and he has a successful track record in dealing with that scenario.

In addition, he took a flailing Calgary Flames team and re-built the defense on a club that eventually went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. Then GM and Coach Darryl Sutter credited Craig for laying the groundwork for a squad that came ultra close to winning it all.

He currently covers the NHL for the NHL Network and TSN but he also pays close attention to the junior ranks and publishes his own draft board each spring on TSN’s website. His knowledge of current pros and amateurs is extensive. With the Stars, he drafted both Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow. As someone in the business recently told me, “He’s hard working, dedicated, and has an incredible passion for the game.”

Given his excellent people skills, I’d have to imagine he is on Leonsis and Patrick’s current list to interivew.

As for that process, Leonsis made it clear that they were not going to conduct a search where information is going to be made publicly available. Certainly details will get exposed as the media scouts out Kettler IcePlex, but the Caps are pretty good at keeping things secretive.

Leonsis stated this was going to be a thorough search while putting no timetable on its conclusion.

Given the importance of this decision, which I believe is the most critical one in franchise history, the owner and Team President must do what they need to do to make sure they get this GM selection correct.

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This week’s #WNSTSweet16 will get you “ice’d”

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This week’s #WNSTSweet16 will get you “ice’d”

Posted on 21 April 2014 by Glenn Clark

We’ve been doing this for nearly four months now. I think you know how it works.

We’re celebrating our 16th year as Baltimore’s sports media leader here at WNST. We’re having some fun with our own Sweet 16 by tackling some “water cooler” topics that we’ve discussed during the course of the WNST era.

Oddly enough, this is the 16th week in our 16th year and we’re tackling our 16th topic. Also odd? My favorite actress is Molly Ringwald! Would you believe that?

If you missed any of our first 15 topics, here’s a look back.

(The “Sweet 16″ is driven by our friends at Jerry’s Automotive-Jerry’s Chevrolet & Jerry’s Toyota Scion!)

Week 15: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 games we’ve been treated to
Week 14: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 Masters moments of the last 30 years
Week 13: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 greatest pro wrestling moments in Baltimore history
Week 12: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports goofballs/personalities
Week 11: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back
Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

So we have to admit this didn’t really play out the way we had hoped it would up to this point. You see, when we cooked up these #WNSTSweet16 ideas we thought the Washington Capitals would be in the throws of a first round matchup in the NHL Playoffs. I mean, it’s been seven years since this has happened and all. We were pretty confident that hockey would be fresh on the minds of a number of Baltimore sports fans.

So can we just pretend like that actually happened? It will make this list a bit more relevant.

The NHL Playoffs have been GREAT thus far, with many overtimes allowing fans additional time to figure out where CNBC is on their cable package. Despite the Caps falling short of the postseason, this week’s list has a hockey twist.

Drew Forrester takes the reigns again for the #WNSTSweet16 this week, recognizing the Sweet 16 “Greatest Players in Washington Capitals history.”

You don’t necessarily HAVE to be a Caps fan to be able to get in on the fun-you simply have to have an opinion.

How does the team’s current MVP (Alex Ovechkin) rate against some of the franchise’s best ever-like Dale Hunter, Rod Langway, Yvon Labre or Mike Gartner? Where does Peter Bondra fall on this list? What about goaltenders like Olaf Kolzig or Jim Carey? Who else from the Ovechkin-era Capitals needs to be a part of the sixteen? Nicklas Backstrom? Mike Green? Alex Semin?

Drew cares about this type of stuff as much as anyone I know but he needs your help. As always, we’re not just trying to make Drew’s list, we’re trying to make something as close to an “official” list as we’re capable of.

Drew wants your ideas. Leave them here in the comments or email him via drew@wnst.net. We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, Drew will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Luke on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. He will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday on “The Happy Hours” with Nestor Aparicio.

Consider this one final opportunity to enjoy Caps hockey for the season. And considering how things went, this will probably end up being much more enjoyable than anything else that happened during the course of the year. (As Drew and Ian Eagle might say: “It’s not a low blow, it’s just a fact.”)

This is your chance to make your voice heard. Who are the greatest players in the history of the Washington Capitals? Let Drew know!

-G

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Driesell, Weller, Kolzig to receive Hall of Fame honors

Posted on 16 April 2014 by WNST Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Former Maryland basketball coaches Lefty Driesell and Chris Weller, in addition to the “Voice of the Terrapins” Johnny Holliday, have been named as part of a seven-member class in the Washington DC Sports Hall of Fame.

The honorees be honored during pregame festivities prior to the Washington Nationals series finale against the San Diego Padres on Sunday, April 27 at Nationals Park. This year, the renowned sports club will enshrine the following inductees:

o   Charles “Lefty” Driesell – Former Men’s Basketball Head Coach, University of Maryland

o   Johnny Holliday – Sports Broadcaster, Voice of Maryland football & basketball and Nats Xtra television host on MASN

o   Olaf “Olie” Kolzig – Former Goalie, Washington Capitals

o   George Solomon – Former Sports Editor, The Washington Post

o   Theodore N. Lerner – Managing Principal Owner, Washington Nationals

o   Michael Weiss – Olympic and Professional Figure Skater

o   Chris Weller – Former Women’s Head Basketball Coach, University of Maryland

These honorees were selected based on their outstanding contributions to the world of sports, thereby bringing honor and recognition to the Nation’s Capital. They will join a select group of Washington-area standout athletes and sports personalities already in the Hall of Fame, including Sammy Baugh, James Brown, Dominique Dawes, Josh Gibson, Walter Johnson, Sonny Jurgensen, Morgan Wootten, Bob Wolff and many others.

Each new inductee will receive a Washington DC Sports Hall of Fame plaque commemorating their induction during the pregame ceremony, and their names will be added to the large Hall of Fame display at Nationals Park, located on the side of Garage B facing the field.

“As a native Washingtonian, and a huge sports fan, it is a thrill to induct this new class of honorees into the Washington DC Sports Hall of Fame,” said Charlie Brotman, co-chair of the Washington DC Sports Hall of Fame and Founder/CEO of Brotman-Winter-Fried (a division of Sage Communications). “We now have more than 100 members in this exclusive club, all of whom have helped further the high standards of athletics in the Greater Washington community.”

Driesell won 348 games in 17 seasons (1969-86) as head coach of the Maryland men’s basketball team, building the Terrapins into a perennial ACC contender. He developed such players as Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, John Lucas, Albert King and Buck Williams.

Under the guidance of Driesell, Maryland won the National Invitational Tournament in 1972 and the ACC Tournament Championship in 1984.

In 27 seasons (1975-2002) as head coach of the women’s basketball team, Weller guided her alma mater to a national title game and three Final Four appearances. Her Maryland teams enjoyed national rankings in 18 seasons and she engineered an unprecedented eight ACC titles.

Weller coached four All-Americans (Vicky Bullett, Jasmina Perazic, Debbie Lytle, Deanna Tate) and amassed 499 wins at the helm.

Holliday joined the Terrapin Sports Radio Network in 1979 and has called some of the most memorable moments in Maryland sports history. He called four ACC football title and seven bowl wins, in addition to men’s basketball’s 2002 national championship seasons and the 2004 ACC Tournament title.

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Ovechkin Scores 50th Goal in Caps Win Over Blues

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Ovechkin Scores 50th Goal in Caps Win Over Blues

Posted on 09 April 2014 by Ed Frankovic

Alexander Ovechkin became only the 11th player in NHL history to score 50 goals in five or more seasons on Tuesday night as the Capitals crushed one of the NHL’s elite, the St. Louis Blues, 4-1.

As good as the Gr8′s shot was to score that 50th marker and give Washington a 1-0 lead, his pass to Nicklas Backstrom that pretty much sealed this contest to make it 3-1, was probably better. It was a sweet move and pass to a streaking #19 in the slot at even strength and took any life the Blues had remaining with just 1:10 to go in the middle frame. Ovechkin would also had another assist on Backstrom’s second goal of the night just 16 seconds into the third period in the Capitals victory. For Ovechkin, it was a three point night and he now has 77 points in 75 games this season.

Backstrom’s two goals give him 17 for the season along with 60 assists for 77 points in 79 games. They are two of the top players in the NHL and their success goes hand in hand, for the most part.

Braden Holtby received his second straight start in net and he was dynamite, especially early on when the Blues dominated the play. Holtbeast stopped 28 of 29 shots in this contest. Overall the Caps were out shot attempted 80-32, but part of that disparity is score effects as the Capitals grabbed the lead midway through period two.

The Blues have what some consider to be a Stanley Cup contending squad, but the Caps were able to defeat them soundly twice this season. Holtby played a big role in those victories and Tuesday’s victory was the second straight for Holtby (he was great against the Islanders on Saturday in a 4-3 shootout win).

The Caps were without the services of Mike Green and Jack Hillen on defense, so they iced Connor Carrick and Julien Brouillette as a third pair. Tyson Strachan received top four minutes with Dmitry Orlov and handled himself well. John Carlson continued his beast of a season notching two assists and logging 26:35 of ice time.

Up front, Mikhail Grabovski chipped in the game winning goal on a sweet shot from the left circle. All four of the Caps goals were on lasers and they were finally able to defeat Ryan Miller, who previously stopped 75 of 77 Capitals shots in two games this season as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

Despite the nice victory, the overall news of the night wasn’t great. Both Columbus and Detroit won their contests and the Caps “tragic number” is down to two points. Basically any combination of Columbus points gained or Caps points that adds to two gives the Jackets a playoff berth while the Capitals would head to the links.

At this point it is, what it is. Washington did not get it done enough times this season and find themselves very close to elimination.

But on Tuesday night in St. Louis they can take pride in the Gr8 hitting 50 goals and gaining a solid victory against a Stanley Cup contender.

Notes: St. Louis dominated the Caps from the dot going 42-16…Ovechkin was +1 in 16:37 of ice time…the other 5+ time 50 goal scorers in NHL history are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemiuex, Bobby Hull, Brett Hull, Mike Bossy, Guy Lafleur, Pavel Bure, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito, and Steve Yzerman…next up for the Caps are the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Thursday night.

 

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