RIP Paul Newman and Caps Update

September 27, 2008 | Ed Frankovic

Sad Day for Hockey Fans – Paul Newman Dies at 83

It is a very sad day today for all hockey fans as Paul Newman died Friday as a result of cancer at age 83. To many hockey fans the movie Slap Shot is our hockey bible and that movie could not have been pulled off without the superb acting of Newman as Charlestown Chiefs Player-Coach Reg Dunlop. Dunlop was the guy who “put a bounty on the head of chief Syracuse punk Tim McCracken” using his own money and who can forget some of the other great Newman lines from that film such as “That’s gotta be true, Dicky Dunn wrote that!”, “They convicted Oglethorpe!”, and “SCOUTS??!!”

Newman is my all time favorite actor and some of his best movies were The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and The Color of Money but there is no doubt that Slap Shot was my favorite because it was about the sport I love the most, hockey. Not a single hockey season will go by without me popping in that movie and having a few laughs. Just a few weeks ago I caught a portion of it on cable and found myself cracking up at the same lines I’ve heard hundreds of times. Slap Shot is to hockey fans what Caddyshack is to golfers.

So I’m sure later tonight many hockey fans, including Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau who had a cameo role in Slap Shot, will be raising a beer and toasting Newman while quoting many of Dunlop’s lines from that great 1977 film. I know I will be so here’s to the Charlestown Chiefs and Reg Dunlop! RIP Paul Newman.

Caps Update

Yesterday the Caps sent the following players 24 players to the Hershey Bears (AHL): Greg Amadio, Dean Arsene, Jay Beagle, Francois Bouchard, Sean Collins, Viktor Dovgan, Michael Dubuc, Alexandre Giroux, Josh Godfrey, Andrew Gordon, Bryan Helmer, Andrew Joudrey, Maxime Lacroix, Daren Machesney, Tommy Maxwell, Patrick McNeill, Graham Mink, Travis Morin, Michal Neuvirth, Oskar Osala, Steve Pinizzotto, Sasha Pokulok, Darren Reid and Kyle Wilson.

In addition, I posted this in the comments section of my blog from Thursday night but if the Caps were to choose 23 players for the big club to start the season here are the ones I think would be on that list:

Forwards (14): Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Federov, Chris Clark, Laich, Nylander, Kozlov, Bradley, Steckel, Brashear, Gordon, Fleischmann, and Fehr

Defensemen (7): Green, Poti, Morrisonn, Schultz, Erskine, Jurcina, Alzner

Goalies (2): Theodore, Johnson

To those who read my blogs you know that I have been watching closely the development of 2007 Caps 1st round draft pick (5th overall), Karl Alzner, primarily because an NHL Director of Scouting told me he was by far the best defensemen chosen in the 2007 draft and is pretty much a can’t miss player. I go back and forth on whether he should start the season in Washington or in Hershey. Based on what I’ve seen and some comments Boudreau made about him after the rookie game last week I am starting to lean towards him being in Washington and learning in the NHL. This is risky but based on what I’ve seen and heard Alzner can handle it.

Alzner did not play in Thursday’s game in Washington because he played the night before in Raleigh in a 4-1 Caps win. He logged 22 minutes and was paired with defensemen Jeff Schultz, who also played for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL as a junior. Boudreau has compared Alzner to Schultz because their style of play is very similar. I had a chance to talk with Karl after Thursday’s game and here are some of the things he said about his first pre-season game on Wednesday night.

“I thought it went okay, we played so good as a team it made it easy to play and that is fun. I just tried to play ultra simple and it is easy to play a game when you are not trying to do too much and I had a great partner to help me through the entire game.”

On fellow Caps defensemen Schultz, who was drafted in 2004 (3 years before Alzner was drafted):

“Jeff and I did play together when I was 16 and 17 and I played a few shifts with him here and there. I know what Schultzie is about and I know how he plays so it is easy for me to kind of expect where he is going to go with the puck and what he is going to do. As soon as I hit juniors he was one of the guys I looked up to and one of the guys who was so successful so everything he does I try to do. I love the way he plays, he’s simple, he’s in good position and has such a good stick so if I can play like him I will be happy.”

As I mentioned above Alzner played 22 minutes in Carolina on Wednesday and here is what he thought afterwards:

“I felt good, didn’t feel tired at all so that is a plus. I was surprised I was thrown out there as much as I was but I look it as [the coaches] giving me the opportunity to prove myself and I’m hoping I did what they wanted me to do.

On special teams:

“That power play is too good for me to get out there but the penalty kill was good for me to play on.”

On Caps goalie Sergei Varlamov, who stopped all 20 shots he faced in the first period on Wednesday night:

“He was unbelievable. There were instances for like a minute straight that he was peppered with shot after shot. That is probably the best I’ve ever seen him play and I’ve played against him for quite a few times,” finished Alzner.

Karl, who turned 20 this past Wednesday, is quietly confident and humble at the same time. I’ve spoken with him four times now and each time I walk away more and more impressed with him. If he remains as solid on the ice as he seems off of it this will be a draft pick that the Caps brag about for a long time and someday I am convinced he could likely be wearing the “C” on his jersey as Caps team captain (Note: Alzner was captain of Team Canada at the 2008 World Jr. Championships and they won that tournament).

The Caps are in Boston on Saturday at 4pm and you can catch the audio feed from the game on WashingtonCaps.com

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