Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Capitals Host Annual Media Luncheon

Semyon Varlamov and Mike Green chat with the media

Hockey Mom attended the Capitals' annual media luncheon today where players and team management welcomed members of both the mainstream and new media (including the entire gang at On Frozen Blog). Prior to the luncheon, the team posed for the official team photo and conducted a practice on Verizon Center ice. Sporting the 'A' on their red jerseys were Alex Ovechkin, Tom Poti and Mike Knuble.

Coach Boudreau spoke to the media about the leadership that Knuble brings to the room and the respect he has from his fellow players, contributing to Gabby's decision to give him the assistant captain nod.

Once again, the Michael Nylander saga was the elephant in the room as the veteran Swede's salary takes up a significant $4.875 million against the salary cap. Rumours of Nyls being sent to Russia's KHL League haven't materialized and he hasn't suited up for any of the Caps' pre-season games. The Nylander situation played a role in the bummer of the day, as Chris Bourque was placed on waivers less than a day after he was told he made the team and would travel for the first game in his hometown of Boston. Stay tuned sports fans, as the Nylander situation could change in an instant.

Matt Bradley talks about his new choice of helmet.

One of the most interesting conversations Hockey Mom had this afternoon was with tough guy Matt Bradley regarding his new Cascade helmet. Spearheaded by hockey legend Mark Messier, the Cascade helmet is designed with a special liner system aimed at diminishing the results of major-impact hits with a primary focus on reducing concussions. Bradley spoke about the issue of kids and sports-related concussions and feels that if a helmet can extend a player's career (especially one who has suffered from recurrent concussions), then choosing protective gear that can prevent this is a no-brainer (no pun intended)! He noted that the Cascades helmet is just as comfortable as other models he's used and joked that if he gets any flack about it from opposing players - well, he's a big boy and we know Brads is not afraid to drop the gloves! HM offers a big high-five to Matt Bradley for his efforts in spreading the awareness of hockey-related concussions!

Next stop for the Caps, the season opener on Thursday against the big, bad Bruins (minus Phil Kessel).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Caps Make More Cuts

With countdown to the season opener now less than three days away, the Capitals have trimmed their roster even more as reported by Corey Masisak of the Washington Times.

Not making the final cut: Alexandre Giroux, Keith Aucoin (Hockey Mom sighs sadly), Karl Alzner and Brandon Sugden. The winners of the Golden Ticket this round are everybody's favorite grinder Quintin Laing, Chris Bourque and defenseman Tyler Sloan. Bourque is hoping to see ice time when the Caps open in Boston, his birthplace and home to most of his dad's Hall of Fame career. Congrats to all these guys for making the roster - hope to see ya at the "Gaw-den."

Hockey Mom also wants to extend kudos to a local Pee Wee player and my boys former linemate, Tyler Lohmeyer, for advancing to the Finals of the Washington Capitals Shoot Out Competition as the Virginia State Champion! Tyler faced some staunch competition and on January 7th during one of the intermission of the Caps vs. Senators game, he'll be playing alongside a goalie from Charlottesville, Va. against the champions from Maryland to determine the overall Capital's Shout Out Champion. Way to represent!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Capitals Host Sold-Out Inaugural Convention

Covering the Caps panel discussion

Hockey Mom just returned from the Capitals Convention and I have to give a huge round of applause to the Caps organization for orchestrating a first-class event for the best fans in the NHL! Unfortunately, I had to skip out for some of the highlights of the day including the Young Guns and Dropping the Gloves panels, as we have a kid's hockey game. But from what I observed during the four hours I was in attendance, most of the 5,000 fans in the house were having a fabulous time.

There was no shortage of things to do for fans of all ages - with all kinds of games for the kids, panel discussions on just about everything you ever wanted to know about the team, new and used Caps merchandise and a wide variety of displays and vendors. The day kicked off with the opening session featuring Ted Leonsis and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Bettman adressed a mryiad of questions from the vocal audience and noted that no fans in professional sports are better connected than hockey fans. When emcee Elliot Segal commented on how kid-friendly Caps games are, Uncle Ted drew a huge laugh from the crowd when he replied "Yeah, but would you take your kids to a Caps/Flyers game in Philly?", drawing a finger wagging from the Commish. Of course, Leonsis emphasized throughout the course of the day, that despite the successes of late, his goal is to bring a Stanley Cup to D.C. He also noted to the fans, that this is "your team."

Jon Press, Joe Beninati, Craig Laughlin, Corey Masisak, Steve Kolbe and Lindsay Czarniak

One of the most interesting panel discussions that I attended was the Cap-ology session conducted by Caps Capologist Don Fishman. Fishman enthusiastically led this interactive discussion as he addressed the hows and whys the team has stuck to their plan of building around their core of young talent.

Majority Owner Ted Leonsis with Tarik El-Bashir of Washington Post and OFB's John Keeley

Fans lined up in droves for player and alumni pictures and autographs and new Capitals merchandise (I was having so much fun I forgot to buy my Knuble shirt) was flying off the racks faster than my two teenagers can go through an all-you-can-eat buffet. After seeing the incredible turnout and hearing the buzz about this year's team from fans young and old, there should no longer be any question as to whether or not D.C. is a hockey town.

Fans line up for the latest in Caps fan gear.

Kudos to the Caps for a phenomenal event - what a great way to kick off a new season, which begins in less than a week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Best of Luck Olie!

Here's more information from the Capitals organization regarding today's announcement from Olie the Goalie on his plans to retire:

The statement from Caps majority owner Ted Leonsis on Kolzig's countless contributions to the team and the D.C. community:

"Olie was the face of the Capitals franchise for years, on the ice, in the locker room and around Washington, D.C. He was a great Capital and the organization and our fans will always have fond memories of ‘Olie the Goalie.’ We wish him and his wonderful family all the best in his retirement."

As you all know, Kolzig was an exceptional leader both on and off the ice. Some of his outstanding accomplishments with the team include the following Caps goaltending records:

  • Career games played (711), minutes (41,259), wins (301), save percentage (.906), saves (18,013) and shutouts (35)

  • Single season games played (73, 1999-00), minutes (4,371, 1999-00), wins (41, 1999-00) and save percentage (.920, 1997-98)

Here's the complete rundown on one the Capital's greatest of all time from the NHLPA's press release:

Veteran goaltender played in 719 games

TORONTO (September 23, 2009)– After 14 seasons, veteran goaltender Olaf Kolzig announced his retirement today from the National Hockey League.

Kolzig, 39, a two-time NHL All-Star (1998, 2000) and former Vezina Trophy winner (2000), appeared in a total of 719 NHL games, 711 of those with the Washington Capitals. His 303 career wins rank him 21st all-time among goaltending wins leaders. Olaf also posted a career 2.71 GAA along with a .906 save percentage and 35 shutouts.

“I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to play the game of hockey at the NHL level for many seasons and I am grateful for everything the game has given me,” said Kolzig. “I would like to thank my family, all my teammates and the fans for making my time in the NHL so special.”

Drafted 19th overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals, Kolzig, 39, was the first South African-born player to be drafted into the NHL. Prior to joining the Capitals on a full-time basis, Kolzig played his junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL). On November 29, 1989, Kolzig achieved a rare feat for a goaltender when he scored a goal while with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.

“Olie” or “Godzilla” as he came to be known to fans and teammates, made his NHL debut in the 1989-90 season with the Capitals. While Kolzig appeared in game action with the Capitals in both the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons, he steadily began earning more playing time in 1994-95 in Washington. From the 1997-98 season through until the 2007-08 season, Kolzig provided exceptional play as the Capitals’ starting goaltender.

In the 1997-98 NHL season, Kolzig led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. During those playoffs, Kolzig amassed four shutouts and posted a 1.95 GAA. Kolzig’s finest season came in 1999-00 with the Capitals, when he recorded 41 wins, including five shutouts and a 2.24 GAA. That season, Kolzig also played in the All-Star game, was named to the NHL First All-Star Team and captured the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender.

During his time as the Capitals’ starting goaltender, Kolzig was one of the most popular players in franchise history. Following the 2007-08 season, Kolzig signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. An injury cut his 2008-09 season with the Lightning short, with Kolzig playing just eight games. He was then dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline.

Kolzig, born in Johannesburg, South Africa, also holds German citizenship, which has enabled him to represent Germany in numerous international hockey competitions. At the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Olaf helped lead Germany to two wins during the tournament, a competition that featured the best players from around the world for the first time in Olympic history. Kolzig’s other international hockey experiences representing Germany include: the World Championships (1997, 2004), the World Cup of Hockey (1996, 2004), and the 2006 Torino Olympics.

Kolzig is a dedicated humanitarian and supporter of many charities. He and his wife founded the Carson Kolzig Foundation in support of their son Carson. Kolzig also co-founded Athletes Against Autism, along with former NHL players Byron Dafoe and Scott Mellanby, and he received the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2006 for his leadership qualities and humanitarian contributions.

“While I appreciate everything the game has given me and certainly will miss it, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and remaining involved in hockey in some capacity,” Kolzig added.

Olaf and his wife Christin will reside in Kennewick, WA with their three children.

Please join Hockey Mom in raising a toast to the magnificent career of Olie Kolzig and wish him well in his new endeavors.

Olie the Goalie Hangs 'Em Up

Former Capital and perennial fan favorite, Olaf Kolzig (or more affectionately known to Caps fans as Olie the Goalie) announced his plans to retire today. The face of the Capitals franchise for an incredible 711 games, we wish Godzilla the best in his retirement and look forward to seeing his jersey raised to the Phone Booth rafters soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Caps Make More Cuts

The Capitals have trimmed their roster down to 36 players.

From the team's PR staff:

The following players were assigned to Hershey (AHL) this afternoon: Jason Bacashihua, Andrew Joudrey, Francois Bouchard, Patrick McNeill, Steve Pinizzotto and John Carlson.

To have too much talent - now that's a nice problem to have. Keep your ears open for great things to come from these players during Hershey's upcoming season.

Caps Fall to Sabres in Pre-Season Home Game

The Capitals stars were all present and accounted for in last night's pre-season contest against Bufffalo at the Phone Booth. But apparently the stars "weren't aligned" as Alex Semin, Mike Green and pals looked a bit rusty in the 2-1 loss. The Caps power play unit struggled throughout the evening and Jose Theodore was the unlucky recipient of two Sabres goals within 11 seconds of each other. The spark plug known as Keith Aucoin scored the lone tally for the home team. But that's what the pre-season is for, eh? Let's work out all those kinks now - and remember we've got a looonngg season in front of us. And just keep Mike Knuble's butt parked right in front of the crease all season - yep, we're going to be just fine.

In other pre-season action, the Capitals' much disliked rivals and Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins fell to the new and improved Montreal Canadiens by a score of 4-3 in front of a packed house in hockey-mad Montreal. The talent the Habs picked up in the off season came up big, with little guy Brian Gionta netting two for the home team. Gionta and team mate Scott Gomez were definitely benefiting from the chemistry that goes back to their years together as New Jersey Devils. Probably a team to keep your eye on the Eastern Conference for sure.

The Caps will take on the Blackhawks for a second preseason meeting tomorrow night at home. HM will have to miss some of that one due to back-to-school night. Speaking of back-to-school, if any of you fellow hockey moms have any great tips on waking up and herding teenage boys out the door in a timely and orderly fashion, I'd love to hear from you. I swear it's like trying to hustle a couple of neanderthals with backpacks and hockey bags (though the neanderthals would probably be faster, knuckle-dragging and all). And the day following a 10:30 p.m. practice end - forget about it!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Caps Win Another One in OT

The Capitals skated in front of a record crowd last night at Chicago's United Center to take their second pre-season win in an OT contest. The Hawks dressed many of their young stars for the occasion including the cabbie-fighting NHL10 cover boy Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg (who suffered an upper body injury in the game), Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Sharp and former Capital Christobal Huet.

The boys found themselves in some penalty trouble in the early periods but rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth had a nice showing, stopping 24 shots. Captain Chris Clark and Kyle Wilson lit the lamp for the visitors, while Mathieu Perreault scored the game winner for a final tally of 3-2.

As HM had to rise and shine bright and early once again this morning, I missed all the OT fun. After returning from two different kids' games on two different sides of the D.C. area, I got the news that the Caps have trimmed their roster down to 42 with an ultra-competitive training camp and two pre-season outings under their belt. The roster cuts include Anton Gustafsson, Boyd Kane, Michael Dubuc, Joel Broda, Patrick Wellar, Zach Miskovic, Joe Finley, Trevor Bruess, Jake Hauswirth, Dylan Yeo, Vladimir Denisov, Josh Godfrey, Ryan Jasinsky, Todd Ford and Braden Holtby.

Caps fans get to cheer on the boys at home tomorrow as they return to the Phone Booth for a second pre-season duel with the Buffalo Sabres. Puck drops at 7 p.m.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Caps Beat Sabres in First Pre-Season Game

Here are some of the highlights from last night's pre-season game against the Buffalo Sabres:

The Caps saw scoring from Jay Beagle, Alexandre Giroux, Mike Knuble (in his own unique gritty style) and Brian Pothier with the game winner in OT. Semyon Varlamov got the nod in net and stopped 17 shots for the night. Way to start the season boys!

In other NHL action, a Hockey Mom high-five to the Flame's Theo Fleury who scored the GWG in a shoot out against the Islanders. The 41-year old is making a comeback after being away from the game for six years afer a much publicized battle with substance abuse. Now you know HM loves a good comeback story.

Fleury's goal aside, things in the Flames/Islanders match up got extremely ugly after wrecking ball
D-man Dion Phanuef leveled young Isles star Kyle Okposo. Okposo was prone on the ice for about six minutes and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. Several Islanders players are taking an even greater offense to the action this morning due to the fact that Phaneuf refused to fight any of them despite being asked to go by a few willing dance partners. Now hockey fans are all too familiar with Phaneuf's hard-hitting ways and highlight reel annihilations, but was the hit on Okposo really necessary in a pre-season exhibition game? Puck heads will definitely be debating this today around water coolers all over North America...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Ovie

Hockey Mom joins AO fans around the world to wish the Cap's shining star a very happy 24th birthday and let's celebrate by bringing home a win in tonight's pre-season contest against the Buffalo Sabres. The big guy continues to pile up the accolades after winning D.C. Sportsman of the Year for his second consecutive award, which was presented at the Greater Washington Sports Alliance's annual Sneaker Ball (another toast to GM George McPhee for winning the Sports Executive of the Year honors). And in a pre-birthday Duschesne Cup blowout, Ovechkin led his scrimmage team (on a line with Nick Backstrom and Mike Knuble) to a 9-5 victory over Team B yesterday, assisted by a solid performance from Jose Theodore in net.

Yes folks, the leaves are starting to change and hockey season is finally here! HM watched some of the pre-season action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins last night, complete with some scoring from Leafs rookies Nazem Kadri and U of Vermont star Viktor Stalberg. Did I mention the five (yes, five) fights in that game? Rookies on vets, vets on rookies - everybody was throwing down. I was even waiting for Leafs GM Bryan Burke to come down from the rafters and get in the action! Ahhh, how I've missed the sounds of a great hockey fight over this long dull summer (with the exception of the pseudo hockey fights taking place in my living room between two 13-year olds - no comparison to the real thing)!

So our boys will finally see some action tonight with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. at HSBC Arena. The Sabres lost some power on the blueline with the retirement of one of my faves Teppo Numminen and the trade of Jaroslav Spacek to the Canadiens so it will be interesting to see how the Sabres' D performs this evening. We'll have to wait and see which rookies get a jersey and how Gabby will structure his lines for this first outing. All I know is that Ovie-Backstrom-Knuble line from this week's camp is a very "good thing" (stick tap to Martha Stewart).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hockey Moms Gone Wild

Now HM has been known to express her frustration now and then over a call (or lack thereof) during a kid's game with a choice expletive mumbled (note mumbled - not yelled) within the comfort zone of my fellow team parents. But at one of the boys' games yesterday, I witnessed one of the most ridiculous exhibitions of bad behavior from a group of hockey moms that I've seen during my years in the bleachers.

In what was supposed to be a fun game followed by a tailgate between our club and a club from Philadelphia (now I'm not pointing fingers, here but just sayin'), a small group of women harassed the refs mercilessly, complete with their own very loud f-bombs and such to the point it was amazing they didn't get tossed. Play seemed to stop after almost every whistle (the result of objection to almost every legal check from this raucous group). One gal snapping pictures kept offering "photographic evidence" of alleged trips and other violations to the officials. What is this, CSI?

To make matters worse, the parents behavior was carried on to the ice as the kids seemed to become more physical the louder the hockey moms gone wild became.

However, the biggest shocker to me was when one of the more vocal ones in the group walked over to our players at the end of the game and screamed at them (for winning). HM almost had to bust a move right then and there but luckily some of the more level-headed dads stepped in. Needless to say, there was no cohesive tailgate between the two groups at the end and the whole experience brings me back to a point that I've touched on many times before: Sportmanship starts at home. And more importantly, it's a kid's game for crying out loud so simmer down Frances and enjoy it!

*In Caps action: The boys take the ice for Day Two of Training Camp today minus Tomas Fleischmann, who is suffering from a blood clot in his leg. He thinks it might have been a result of a blocked shot in the Penguins series (yet another reason to dislike those blasted ice fowl) combined with a long flight home to the Czech Republic. Here's to a speedy recovery Flash!

And the Dany Heatley drama has subsided but the Michael Nylander soap opera continues with Nyls saying he still wants to play for the Caps (while his wife and kids are still in Europe, hmmmm) - stay tuned....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On Top

All the vets reported for media day today and the quip of the day came from none other than AO himself: "On top. On top of Pittsburgh, on top of everybody," Ovie said, when asked where he expected the Capitals to finish the 2009-10 season. So that just got about a hundred thousand "like its" on Facebook.

Yep - nothing steamed me more than watching the Pittsburgh Penguins meeting POTUS in our own backyard accompanied by Lord Stanley's Cup. Ovie and pal Alex Semin took to the ice today clad in t-shirts reading "Get Ready - It's Our Time" with an image of aforementiond Cup across the back. Now that's the right attitude to kick off a brand new season. I'm sure it will be standing room only tomorrow as fans clamor for a hockey fix for the start of Training Camp. And if you just can't wait til tomorrow, A View from the Cheap Seats has a fun video preview featuring Dave Steckel, Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich (who has certainly not forgotten the sting of that Game 7 loss) along with others. Also, please to join me in raising a glass for a birthday toast to A View from the Cheap Seats and the very funny Caps Chick! And while we're toasting, how about another one for my pals at On Frozen Blog for getting a shout out in this month's Hockey News - woot!

And in the tricks and trades department, Sens fans can either start mourning or breathe a sigh of relief that the Dany Heatley drama is behind them. The "I'm so miserable in Ottawa" Heatley was traded today in a pretty big deal that sends Jonathon Cheechoo and Milan Michalek to the Canadian capital. See ya!

Friday, September 11, 2009

And We're Off!

Off to the wacky and wonderful start of another hockey season (both for my boys and the big boys)! The Capitals rookies kicked things off this afternoon with a chippy pre-season scrimmage with the junior Broad Street Bullies (also known as the Philadelphia Flyers rookies). Hockey Mom kept up with the action via all my pals on Twitter - sounds like it was an absolute slugfest with the Flyers rookies claiming a 7-3 victory.

Cody Eakin, John Carlson and Big Joe Finley all showed up strong for the Caps and Gabby had some good things to say about Carlson as he tries to make a space for himself during the veteran's camp. Veterans report to Kettler tomorrow for check in and media interviews. Apparently everyone has been spotted and accounted for with the exception of Michael Nylander up until today. This will be the first year that HM won't make it to Training Camp (as she wipes her tears with her sleeve) as the boys both have pre-season games on Sunday and work is very busy next week. I am counting on all my new media friends to keep me up-to-date on the latest and greatest, including who pukes first after one of Coach Boudreau's bag skates!

We will be having a little Philly action this weekend ourselves as we have a tailgate planned with the parents/players of a team from that area prior to taking them on in a pre-season game. Hmmm - beer, hockey parents and Flyers fans at 11 in the morning - let's just hope we all make it through the game with our teeth intact. One fellow on one of the boys' teams (who has the kahunas to sport a Chris Pronger Flyers t-shirt within the confines of Kettler Capitals IcePlex) will probably be bonding with the competition as they discuss the nasty factor of new Flyers Pronger, Ian LaPerriere and Ray Emery. HM has the Flyers/Caps first meeting on my calendar as a "don't miss".

So hope you all get a chance to get down to Kettler on Sunday to say hi to boys and welcome them home. Let's get this party started already, huh?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not Quite as Smooth as His Mercedes...

Check out Ovie's ride on a zamboni emblazoned with his smiling mug across the front. He took the creaky zam on a ride down New York's 6th avenue to launch the NHL 2K 10 game. Not quite as smooth as his Mercedes (or even his trusty Verizon Center golf cart) huh?

(stick tap to Caps PR staff for keeping us posted on the varied activities of the Great8 in the Big Apple)!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vacation is Over...

In the words of Capitals bench boss Bruce Boudreau "Vacation is over." Yes indeed, as Hockey Mom returned from visiting my crazy family in Atlanta today, tomorrow means back-to-school, two hockey practices and Day Two of Caps Rookie Camp (apparently Day One left Big Joe Finley with an undisclosed injury and Dmitry Kugryshev on his knees sucking major wind). Vacation is definitely over but the good news is that the boys are slowly trickling back into town and the season is here before you know it.

Several of the vets have been sighted skating at Kettler, including Mike Knuble, Brendan Morrison, Mike Green, Boyd Gordon, Chris Clark, Matt Bradley and Dave Steckel, among others. And on Wednesday, the gregarious AO will be driving a zamboni down 6th Avenue in NYC to celebrate the release of NHL 2K10. If he drives the zam anything like he pilots a golf cart through the alleys of Verizon Center, let's just say I hope all the New Yawkers strolling down 6th Avenue around 4 p.m. on Wednesday keep their heads up and their running shoes on! Just kidding, this is a great way to mark the release of this much anticipated game (it's on my boys' Christmas list every year) and Ovie is sure to make it a memorable event for all involved!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mid-Week Musings

So it's almost Labor Day weekend and countdown to Capitals Training Camp has officially begun. Hockey Mom will be taking a three-day hiatus to see family down in Blueland (the home of the Atlanta Thrashers of course)before the season's madness begins in earnest next weekend.

In the meantime, just a few mid-week hockey happenings on the team we all know and love:

  • In case you haven't seen it, Mike Green has his own new thugalicious Web site: www.greenlife52.com. Lil' Wayne, look out! Tarik is also reporting that Green is going to have his fancy new bachelor pad showcased on an upcoming episode of MTV Cribs.

  • Vancouver Canuck's goalie Roberto Luongo just signed a phat deal today for 12-years, $64-million. He's also hoping to be minding the net for Team Canada in his adopted hometown of Vancouver in February.

  • The Caps are ready to go back to school as David Steckel, Assistant Coach Dean Evason and everyone's favorite mohawk sporting mascot Slapshot, will be visiting the kids tomorrow at Adelphi Elementary School for the first session of Capitals Hockey School.

  • The NHL's head honcho Gary Bettman, who's usually the topic of some colorful coversations among puckheads, will be in the house for the Capitals Convention on September 26. Bettman and deputy commish, Bill Daly, will be answering fans' questions in what will surely be an insightful session on the state of the NHL.