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Tag:Washington Capitals
Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:22 pm
 

Caps goalie Neuvirth's mask depicts home, D.C.

By Brian Stubits

Continuing in what has become a summer tradition of revealing the goaltender masks for the upcoming season, we present to you the cage that Capitals goaltender Michael Neuvirth will sport this season.

There is no better way in hockey for a player to show their identity and character than a goalie and his mask. And I must admit, this is one of my favorites.

On one half of the mask is a tribute to his home nation, the Czech Republic that includes a lion with a crown, something that be seen on the nation's soccer emblem among other places, and a castle from his hometown, a staple on all of his masks.

The other side represents the city he plays in, with an image of the Capitol and the Washington Monument with Stars and an eagle. Lucky for him, both the USA and the Czech Republic have red, white and blue as their colors.

On the top is the Capitals eagle that appears on the team logo and the bottom says "Neuvy," his nickname.

Here's a little more on the design process from NBC Washington:

“The goalies tell me what kind of style they want, if they want old school, or retro, or top modern,” explained David Gunnarsson, who designed all of the Caps' masks last season. "After the goalie and I have talked, I do some research and thinking and sketching. I present a design idea for the goalie and then I start to paint. It’s a very fun process."

To see more of Gunnarsson's designs, check this link.

Photo: NBC Washington

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:20 pm
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Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: September 9, 2011 10:14 am
 

Daily Skate: Varlamov to attend Yaroslavl service

By Brian Stubits

UNFORTUNATE TRIP: Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov is a local hero in Yaroslavl, Russia. He is a product of the Lokomotiv team. Ironically enough, if the Avs didn't acquire him from the Capitals this offseason, he very well could have been on the Lokomotiv roster again this season. Naturally, the Russian tragedy has hit close to home for Varly and he'll be heading back for the memorial services. Adrian Dater at the Denver Post has more.

PTERODACTLY AIR: Much has been made of the flying conditions in Russia since the crash, and rightfully so. To get a further understanding, just read Coyotes assistant coach Dave King's take on Russian air service from his book King of Russia: "The charter craft have, for the most part, featured modern, up-to-date planes, but today we’re in a time warp, flying on a twin-propeller plane the players call Pterodactyl Air — for reasons that are self-explanatory." Here's the full section at the Edmonton Journal.

FIRST ACCOUNT: When the airline went down just after takeoff and landed in the water, there just happened to be a boat a few hundred yards away. Here's the harrowing account (Alex Ovetjkin) of their first response on the scene including their interactions with the crash's two survivors.

NEW ADDRESS, NEW NUMBER: After spending more than 11 seasons in Toronto to begin his career, Tomas Kaberle is now with his third team in a year, joining the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason. And it's going to be a new start in more ways than one. With his number 15 already snagged by Tuomo Ruutu, Kaberle is going with the inverted look and will wear No. 51 (News Observer).

HOCKEY ON THE BOARDWALK: Despite not having an AHL team based in Atlantic City, the league will have its All-Star Game in the historic Boardwalk Hall (The Hockey News) next season. On a related note, next year's AHL All-Star Game will be one of the most attended and covered in the league's history.

NOT FINNISHED YET: Remember the name Jarkko Ruutu? The former Canucks, Penguins, Senators and most recently Ducks forward and brother of the aforementioned Tuomo Ruutu (two Ruutus in one post?) couldn't find a suitable offer in the NHL, so he's headed back to Europe, joining Jokerit of the Finnish league. Slava Malamud says Ruutu did have offers from the KHL worth more, but instead chose Finland.

THE NHL'S TIM TEBOW? That's the connection being drawn at PredGold between Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis and the former Florida Gators now Denver Broncos QB. Have a look at the list of similarities and see if you agree.

PERFECT PITCH: It's still the offseason, but camp is right around the corner so players are almost all on their way to the cities they play in, but still need a way to stay busy. John Carlson of the Capitals recently found something to do for a day, go to a Nationals game and throw out the first pitch. That's a nice arm on Carlson. Too bad nobody was in attendance to see it.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 7, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Hockey world mourns KHL team plane crash



(Pavol Demitra/Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

For the fourth time this summer, tragedy has struck the hockey world. This time it comes in the form of a plane crash in Russia carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of the KHL, a team that includes many former NHL faces.

Among those who were on the roster are former NHL players Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei Karlis Skrastins, Josef Vasicek and Karel Rachunek. The coaching staff was led by former Bruins, Whalers, Flyers and Red Wings defenseman Brad McCrimmon and also contained former NHL players Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev.

Plus, there were numerous others who were prospects for NHL teams. Among those was Devils prospect Alexander Vasyunov, who played in 18 games for the Devils last season.

"Words cannot express what has transpired," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said. "I knew a lot of players that were on that team. Nothing could prepare the hockey community for the devastating news ... [This] has left all of us beyond words.

More on KHL crash

"[Vasyunov] wanted to go over and play a lot and come back here. He was so proud to be a Devil. I can't say enough about him."

Riley Armstrong, brother of Colby Armstrong, is part of the team but was not on the plane. He tweeted after the ordeal that he was OK.

"I'm safe, but thanks for the kind words but pray and think of the players and their families on that flight."

As you can imagine, in a league that now contains many Russian players and has its ties grow every year with Russia's top league, the responses have been numerous and distraught. Alex Ovechkin simply said "I'm in shock!!!!!R.I.P ...."

Panthers defenseman and former Lokomotiv player Dmitry Kulikov was left stunned. "It's just an empty feeling. Words can't express how I feel."

Then there was Lightning defenseman Nate Thompson. "A tragic loss for the hockey world. Plane crash with an entire KHL team on board. Thoughts and prayers go out to there families and friends."

Perhaps Demitra is perhaps the best known former NHL player among the bunch. He spent most of his NHL career with the Blues, where he had his best seasons as a player. His best year was 2002-03 when he scored 36 goals and had 57 assists. He was named to three All-Star teams; 1999, 2000 and 2002. He most recently played for the Canucks in 2009-10 before moving on to the KHL.

Moreover, he developed some tremendous friendships in the NHL. The bond he created with Keith Tkachuk in St. Louis was tremendous and Tkachuk was predictably hurt.

"I am beyond devastated by the tragic news involving my good friends Brad and Pavol and the rest of their teammates in Russia. Brad was my teammate in Phoenix and later coached me in Atlanta and was truly a wonderful man who will be greatly missed. Pav was like a brother to me and I cannot believe that he is no longer with us. This is a terrible day for the hockey fraternity. My family’s thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time.”

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star- Tribune penned this story back in 2007 (at the bottom of the entry) about the strong bond Demitra developed with Marion Gaborik when the two were playing together for the Wild.

Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins also had lengthy stints in the NHL, even being traded for one another at one point. In the 2007-08 season, the Avalanche sent Skrastins to the Panthers in exchange for Salei. In his one full season in Florida, Skrastins had his most productive offensive year, scoring four goals and 14 assists. The tough-nosed defenseman then played his final two NHL seasons with the Stars. Terry Frei of the Denver Post chronicaled Skrastins' trip to the NHL from Latvia.

"The Dallas Stars are saddened by the loss of former defenseman Karlis Skrastins in today's tragic plane crash in Russia," the team released in a statement.

Salei spent nearly a decade playing for the Ducks in Anaheim before he was signed by the Panthers. Like Skrastins, he had his best offensive season playing with Florida, scoring six goals with 26 assists in 2006-07 before being traded the next season to Colorado.

He was playing with the Red Wings just last season, playing 75 games with Detroit.

Vasicek played parts of seven seasons in the NHL, six of those with the Carolina Hurricanes. Team captain Eric Staal had this to say about Vasicek: "Joe was an awesome guy, always in good spirits, always smiling. It's just a tragedy."

Chad LaRose echoed those sentiments. "It's a shocker, a tragedy. Joe was a great guy. A life ended too early."

Vasicek's final season in North America was with the Islanders where he played alongside Radek Martinek.

"He was one of my best buddies. He was in my wedding. I can't believe this," Martinek said.

Among the confirmed dead is former Red Wings and Flyers defenseman McCrimmon, Lokomotiv's coach. The news was just as somber in Detroit with Wings coach Mike Babcock.

McCrimmon had been an assistant with the Red Wings the past three seasons, having spent time wit the Thrashers, Flames and Islanders as an assistant as well. He left Detroit to lead the KHL team in hopes of becoming a head coach in the NHL some day.

As a defenseman, he put up some absolutely unbelievable numbers in his career. In only two of his 18 seasons did he ever record a negative plus-minus mark and he posted a career-high plus-83 in 1985-86 with the Flyers. He ended his career with a plus-444, the 10th best mark in NHL history. Each of the nine players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame.

This will go down as one of the biggest, if not the biggest sports tragedies we've ever seen. About the only things I can think that compare are the plane crashes that affected the Marshall football team and Oklahoma State basketball teams. Hopefully, and we hope with every bone in our body, this is the end of what will be known as the Summer of Sorrow in hockey. This has truly been an offseason from hell and hopefully one that we never see again.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 6, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Why Tomas Vokoun chose Capitals over Red Wings

VokounBy: Adam Gretz

It's not often that you hear about a player turning down a contract offer from the Detroit Red Wings because another team gives him a better opportunity to win the Stanley Cup.

It usually works the other way around, seeing as how the Red Wings have appeared in five of the past 14 Stanley Cup Finals, winning four of them.

For example: Prior to the 2008-09 season Marian Hossa, who had been on the losing end  of the Stanley Cup Final the previous season as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins (against the Red Wings), turned down more lucrative offers in free agency to sign a one-year deal with Detroit because that was the team he felt gave him the best chance to win. As it turned out, his decision didn't work out for him that season (the Red Wings ended up losing to the Penguins) and Hossa would have to wait another year to eventually get his ring as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Earlier this offseason former Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Washington Capitals, which seems like an incredible value for Washington since the 35-year-old Vokoun has been one of the better goalies in the league in recent years.

On Tuesday, he spoke with Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post and confirmed that he had turned down an offer from the Red Wings because he felt the Capitals roster this season is closer to winning the cup, as well as family considerations (he said it would be easier for his family to visit Washington than Detroit, while the Capitals have an easier travel schedule).

Of all the reasons given, the opinion that Washington is closer to a Cup certainly stands out.

From the Post:
“Looking at Washington’s lineup compared to Detroit, they are comparable teams,” Vokoun said. “But Detroit in last 10 years won three times Stanley Cup. And Washington never won it. But that’s a lot better challenge for me and the team, to be able to do something special.”

He later added: “My belief is this team has a better chance to win than Detroit does. And they showed a lot more interest, so that was the key for me, too.”
Vokoun didn't specifically address it, but it might also be worth pointing out that the starting job may have been easier to obtain in Washington (where Michal Neuvirth was the returning starter) than it would have been in Detroit (Jimmy Howard). Both teams are likely to be at the top of their respective conferences when the regular season ends, so it all comes down to the playoffs.

On paper the Capitals seemingly have everything a team would need to not only contend for the Cup, but also win it. They can score, they have one of the best offensive-defenseman in the NHL (Mike Green) and added some nice role players this offseason with Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, to go along with Vokoun, a legitimate No. 1 goaltender in recent years. But it seems like we've been saying that for a couple of years now, and the playoff record is what it is. They've won their division in each of the past four seasons, finishing as the top seed in the Eastern Conference two years in a row, but have managed to get out of the first round only twice over that stretch, and never beyond the second round.

They should be close to winning it, and perhaps Vokoun is one of the missing pieces to getting them there.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 10:45 am
 

Daily Skate: Ference's Cup day includes flash mob

By Brian Stubits

FLASH IN THE PAN: Andrew Ference recently took his time with the Stanley Cup and had said that his time would one-up everybody else's. Boy did it. In Boston's North End at the celebration, a flash mob busts out dancing and the show ends with a triumphant Ference standing amid the dancers holding the chalice high above his head (h/t to Puck Daddy). No word if this guy made it in the routine (I still love this).

CAN'T CUT IT: The Washington Capitals made a small move on Monday, waiving one-time hot prospect Dmitry Kugryshev (via DC Pro Sports Report), who will soon be on his way to NHL free agency. The Russian prospect had shown tremendous promise in lighting up the QMJHL, tallying 87 points in 66 games his last season there. But life in the AHL was a lot tougher and apparently the Caps have seen enough. You can surely expect some team to try and take a flyer on Kugryshev.

TESTING TIME: A few Carolina Hurricanes are taking part in an experiment from Nike, requiring the players to wear goggles while they train and setting them back in the disco era. From Chip Alexander at the News Observer: "use of the glasses can improve peripheral vision, reaction time, perception and focus. The disco reference? To the strobe effect of the glasses. Ah, the things people do for scienece.

REMEMBERING BELAK: Wade Belak's memorial service was held over the weekend and among those on hand were his former teammates with the Predators to honor the fallen player. “He was happy to be retired," Ryan Suter said. "He was happy to be moving on, because he had played for so long. He was going to finally be able to relax and enjoy it.” Josh Cooper at the Tennesseean has the full story.

IRONWOMEN: In Burnaby, Britich Columbia, a group of women finished playing the longest hockey game in history, going 243 hours and five minutes of consecutive (minus occasional zamboni appearances) of action to break the Guiness world record (via CTV news). The reason? To raise money for cystic fibrosis. The game that stretched 10 days had almost 2,500 goals scored. I guess nobody will complain about hockey being low scoring after that.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 31, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Former Capital Steckel talks Crosby hit, Semin

By Brian Stubits

David Steckel was a member of the Washington Capitals up until March of last year, so he knows a thing or two about a couple of the bigger stories/dramas of the hockey summer.

Skating at the Caps practice facility as he and his wife are back in the District to try and sell their Virginia house, Steckel took a little time to talk with the Washington Post's Tarik El-Bashir about a few lingering items. One regards the health of Sidney Crosby, the other the criticism levied on Alexander Semin by former Caps enforcer Matt Bradley.

First, to the Crosby treatment. Remember, it was Steckel that hit Crosby in the Winter Classic, rendering the Penguins star concussed. Since then, the argument has raged of whether or not it was a dirty play or intentional. Steckel, now with the Devils, says neither is the case.

"I had no intent to injure him. I feel just as bad as anybody. I don't want to see anybody out of the game for that long. It's bad enough with everything that's going around with other guys [and] head [injuries]. It's just so uncertain. I feel bad. I wish him the best. I don't wish that upon anybody."

Here's the hit heard 'round the NHL world in case you need a refresher.

To me it never appeared to be a malicious hit by any stretch. It appears to be an unfortunate accident. But it's certainly a debatable topic and the true verdict is always in the eye of the beholder in such situations.

However the majority of the talk with El-Bashir centered on Bradley's remarks about Semin, ya know the ones that Semin "just doesn't care?" Well here's what Steckel had to say on Wednesday.

“It's not like he went out and told lies,” Steckel said. “[He] didn't really say anything bad about anybody. He just stated what he felt. ... I don't have anything to say on what Brads said except that he was spot on. He mentioned Ovi, too, just not on a negative side. He hit it on the head for both guys."

It's nowhere near as inflammatory as the route Bradley took, but it's still no ringing endorsement of Semin.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 9:56 am
 

Daily Skate: Devils planning Niedermayer night?

By Brian Stubits

NIEDERMAYER NIGHT? It's seems to be only a matter of time before the Devils honor Scott Niedermayer and retire his No. 27 jersey. According to Al Dhalla of Super Agent Inc., it will happen on Dec. 16 against the Stars. Tom Gulitti at the Bergen Record couldn't confirm the plans with Niedermayer, but Scott did acknowledge he has talked about it with the Devils in the past. "Lou [Lamoriello] will do it when he feels it's right to do. In my eyes at least, I don't think anything has been finalized anyway."

BELLY ACHING Alexander Ovechkin is the closes thing to a rock star in hockey because of his following back in Russia, he gets a bit of the paparazzi treatment. That makes this summer's hysteria and analysis over Ovi's seemingly bloated belly that was dissected by many, including Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post. Well maybe this will put fans at ease. Puck Daddy caught up with the Caps star before his upcoming charity game, and the interview included a "look at THIS belly" photo.

TO WHIT: If the Oilers plan on making a few small steps forward this season, they will need to have Ryan Whitney back on the ice. He was having a good season last year before he suffered an injured foot that cost him the remainder of his season. Unfortunately for him and Edmonton, he re-aggravated the injury earlier this summer skating in Boston. "I rolled over on the foot ... caught a rut in the ice. Minor sprain, I think," he told the Edmonton Journal. The good news is that it">

ODE TO LANGKOW: We finish up today with an ode coming from the Matchsticks and Gasoline blog about the exit of Daymond Langkow from the Flames to the Coyotes. I gotta tell ya, parting is such sweet sorrow. Especially when it includes prose like this: Then came that fateful day against Minnesota, Your luck was absent, not even one iota, The puck flew off of Ian White's stick, And hit your neck with the force of a brick.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com