In the midst of what will certainly be known as one of the hottest summers on record, hockey fans got a brief glimpse of winter as the representatives of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins converged on the Steel City for the first Winter Classic press conference. During the event held at Heinz Field, the League also unveiled the official logo for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the special team logos for the Pens and Caps.
HM is on day two of my "staycation" so I watched the hullabaloo on the NHL Network (and spotted Tarik El-Bashir in the media scrum). Judging from Commish Bettman's Pens-centric comments, one almost forgot for a moment that the Winter Classic is a League event. But Capitals' president Dick Patrick repped the Caps proudly, as did players Mike Knuble (rocking a groovy pair of black wraparound shades) and David Steckel. Sitting over on the "dark side" were Penguins' owner Mario Lemieux, captain Sidney Crosby and his BFF Maxime Talbot. Of course it's never too early for the requisite smacktalking between these two teams, and Talbot got the ball rolling with some comments equating our beloved Alex Ovechkin with a feminine hygiene product. Let the games begin....
Meanwhile back in D.C., the team came to terms with forward Tomas Fleischmann on the eve of his arbitration hearing. The contract is a one-year deal worth a reported $2.6 million. "Flash", 26, set career highs in goals (23), assists (28), points (51) and plus/minus (+9) in 2009-10. He finished sixth on the team in goals and seventh in points and ranked sixth in the NHL with a 19.0 shooting percentage. He scored 10 of his 23 goals in the first period and scored eight goals in the 10 games that Alex Ovechkin was missing from the lineup. He established offensive career highs despite missing the first 11 games of the season recovering from deep vein thrombosis in his leg. Despite a stellar regular season, Flash has drawn some ire from diehard Caps fans for his post-season performance (in other words, he was one of the "passengers" on the bus that Gabby alluded to after the dust had settled). His signing leaves the Caps with about $5.9 million in cap space - enough for GMGM to bring up some of those fiesty youngsters from the farm.
And in closing, Hockey Mom wants to wish a happy first birthday to the fabulous writers over at Russian Machine Never Breaks!