Archive for August 2007

Great Radio News

August 30, 2007

Good news from Caps Land today, kids. The team has announced its radio deal for the 2007-08 season with Bonneville International Corporation. SportsTalk 980 is now in the rear view mirror as far as radio affiliates go, and the signal will be much stronger this season.

For those of us living a bit outside of the beltway, we’ll be able to pull in Caps games on Talk Radio 3WT, on 1500 AM, 107.7 FM and 820 AM.

Rejoice!

The Poile Era

August 30, 2007

Twenty-five years ago today, the Washington Capitals named David Poile as their general manager. Poile’s appointment came just three days after the Caps informed interim general manager Roger Crozier that he would not be leading the team into the 1982-83 season.

Crozier’s departure was announced in a 4 p.m. press release on a Friday afternoon. At 11 a.m. on the following Monday, the team held a press conference to announce that Poile, then 33 years old and the youngest general manager in the league, would succeed Crozier.

As you might surmise with that short turnaround between the firing of Crozier and the hiring of Poile, talks had been in the works. Poile had been the Atlanta/Calgary Flames’ assistant general manager under Cliff Fletcher, and Fletcher had been asked for permission to negotiate with Poile three weeks before the hiring was announced.

“David is capable, and a logical candidate for the job,” Fletcher said in the Aug. 29, 1982 edition of The Washington Post. “The only difficulty is taking over a team two weeks before training camp begins.”

As hindsight shows, that wasn’t much of a difficulty. First, the Caps had a pretty good nucleus in place at the time.

“I helped build a helluva hockey club for them,” noted Crozier, the only man ever to serve in the capacities of player, coach and general manager for the Capitals.

He also correctly noted that then-owner Abe Pollin already had his successor lined up.

“I can only wish him good luck, because that is my team,” said Crozier, in the Aug. 28, 1982 edition of The Journal Messenger. “I believe we have done enough good things that the team is going to win. We made all the moves we could.

“The new guy has a solid foundation to build on. This is going to be a really exciting and competitive hockey club. It would be a real shame if a new guy comes in and tries to unravel this thing, because we are in pretty good shape right now.”

Poile was smart enough to both build on the foundation and not unravel “the thing.” A mere 10 days after taking the job, he “took” Canadiens general manager Irving Grundman in a swap that stands as the best in Washington’s franchise history.

Poile also knew that Crozier was right. He was sliding into a pretty strong situation on the ice.

“I would never have accepted this job if I did not believe the Capitals would make the playoffs in 1982-83,” said Poile at that Monday press conference. “This thing is going to work. We’re not here for a good time; we’re here for a long time.”

Right he was.

The Capitals made the playoffs in 1982-83, touching off a run in which they earned a postseason berth in 14 consecutive campaigns. In 1996-97 that streak ended, as did Poile’s decade-and-a-half run as Washington’s general manager.

Ironically, the Caps announced a trade in between the GM tenures of Crozier and Poile. On Sat. Aug. 28, the team announced that it had traded a sixth-round choice in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft and a fifth-round choice in 1984 to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Dave Hutchison and left wing Ted Bulley. Crozier had agreed to the deal with Chicago general manager Bob Pulford two days before he was relieved of his duties, but the Caps announced the swap a day after Crozier’s departure.

According to a Post report at the time, Crozier had rejected a Pulford proposal some eight months earlier (in Dec. 1981) that would have brought center Glen Sharpley and defenseman Doug Crossman to Washington in exchange for the Capitals’ first-round choice in the 1982 Entry Draft. Not only did Crozier turn that deal down, it was he who insisted the Caps use that choice to take Kitchener Rangers defenseman Scott Stevens.

Camp Notes

August 29, 2007

I’m told that even though forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Jakub Klepis have yet to sign contracts for the 2007-08 season, they will be coming to training camp and will be participating in drills and the daily routine even if they do not come to terms with the team between now and then.

Also, we had a question about Eric Fehr on today’s Capitals Report podcast and I opined that we might see him next week when rookie camp opens. But Nate Ewell was correct in correcting me, because Fehr will not be on the rookie camp roster. That roster and the team’s training camp roster should be released some time next week.

Feel Good Story of the Summer

August 29, 2007

Last week a story about ex-Maple Leaf Jim Pappin’s 1967 Stanley Cup ring surfaced, along with the ring itself. A treasure hunter with a metal detector found Pappin’s ring in the Gulf of Mexico. Today brings news that the story has reached a happy ending. Pappin’s ring is going back to him, and the the treasure hunter has earned a reward for his find. Even better, the treasure hunter (Mark DesErmia) accepted far less money to give the ring back to Pappin than he could have gotten had he put the prize on the open market and let collectors have at it.

“I told everyone that I want to be able to look back on this years from now and feel good about it and know that I did the right thing,” said DesErmia.

That’s nice to hear in an era where such sentiments are seldom uttered. Good for Pappin, good for DesErmia. And who knows? Maybe some of that good karma can help the Leafs shake off their 40-year Cup drought.

We’re Almost There

August 28, 2007

About a week and a half from now, the walls of the Kettler Capitals Iceplex will be filled with the sounds of pucks hitting boards and skates cutting ice. The Caps today released the schedule for the team’s upcoming rookie camp and training camp, and the first skates hit the ice on the morning of Sat. Sept. 8 when rookie camp begins. The freshmen will skate on their own for four days before facing the Philadelphia Flyers’ rookies in a scrimmage at Vorhees, N.J. on Sept. 12.

The rest of the Washington roster is slated to hit town on Sept. 13, with camp beginning in earnest on Sept. 14. The first of seven preseason games is Sept. 20 in Carolina, and the home preseason opener is Sept. 25 against the Hurricanes.

My kids went back to school today. My son’s team has already had its first two practices. September is mere hours away. We’ve made it through another long summer. Let’s hope next summer is much shorter from a Capitals’ perspective.

Here’s the slate:

2007 Washington Capitals Rookie Camp and Training Camp Schedule

Date Time Event
Sat., Sept. 8 Rookie Camp Opens
10:30 a.m. Rookie Camp practice (Capitals Rink)
Sun., Sept. 9 10:30 a.m. Rookie Camp practice (Capitals Rink)
Mon., Sept. 10 10:30 a.m. Rookie Camp practice (Capitals Rink)
Tues., Sept. 11 10:30 a.m. Rookie Camp practice (Capitals Rink)
Wed., Sept. 12 12:30 p.m. Rookie game vs. Philadelphia, Vorhees, N.J.
Thurs., Sept. 13 9 a.m. Off-ice testing and media availability (closed to the public)
Fri., Sept. 14 Training Camp Opens; single-game tickets available
10:30 a.m. Groups A and B practice (both rinks)
11:30 a.m. Group C practice/Groups A and B scrimmage (both rinks)
Sat., Sept. 15 10:30 a.m. Groups B and C practice (both rinks)
11:30 a.m. Group A practice/Groups B and C scrimmage (both rinks)
Sun., Sept. 16 9:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
3 p.m. at Carolina, Raleigh, N.C.
Mon., Sept. 17 10:30 a.m. Group A practice (Capitals Rink)
11:30 a.m. Group B practice (Public Rink)
Tues., Sept. 18 10:30 a.m. Groups A and B practice (both rinks)
Wed., Sept. 19 10:30 a.m. Groups A and B practice (both rinks)
11:30 a.m. Scrimmage (Capitals Rink)
Thurs., Sept. 20 Red Thursday
10:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
7 p.m. at Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario
Fri., Sept. 21 Heroes Day
11:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
Sat., Sept. 22 10:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
7:30 p.m. at Tampa Bay, Tampa, Fla.
Sun., Sept. 23 Off
Mon., Sept. 24 10:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
Tues., Sept. 25 10:30 a.m. Morning skate (Capitals Rink)
11:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
7 p.m. vs. Carolina, Verizon Center
Wed., Sept. 26 10:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
7 p.m. at Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.
Thurs., Sept. 27 Red Thursday
11:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
Fri., Sept. 28 10:30 a.m. Morning skate (Capitals Rink)
7 p.m. vs. Philadelphia, Verizon Center
Sat., Sept. 29 Kid’s Day
11:30 a.m. Practice (Capitals Rink)
Sun., Sept. 30 10:30 a.m. Morning skate (Capitals Rink)
5 p.m. vs. Ottawa, Verizon Center
Mon., Oct. 1 TBD Caps Care Classic Golf Tournament, Springfield, Va.
2007 Washington Capitals Preseason Schedule
Date Opponent Location Time
Wed., Sept. 12 at Philadelphia* Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone, Vorhees, N.J. 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 16 at Carolina RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C. 3 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 20 at Ottawa Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario 7 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 22 at Tampa Bay St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Fla. 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 25 Carolina Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7 p.m.
Wed., Sept. 26 at Philadelphia Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pa. 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 Philadelphia Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 30 Ottawa Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 5 p.m.

GMGM on XM at 4 p.m.

August 27, 2007

The good folks on XM Radio’s hockey channel (channel 204) will be hosting a full hour of Capitals discussion starting at 4 p.m. this afternoon when Washington general manager George McPhee joins them live on the air. Tune in if you can. I may try to sneak down to the parking lot and listen in myself.

Erskine Signing Leaves Two Unsigned

August 27, 2007

The Caps came to terms with restricted free agent defenseman John Erskine today, signing him to a two-year deal. Erskine, who signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent with Washington last season on the eve of training camp, played 29 games with the Capitals in 2006-07. He registered a goal, seven points (a career high) and 69 penalty minutes but was also a minus-13.

A 27-year-old native of Kingston, Ont., Erskine is an old school defenseman who hits first and asks questions later, if at all. He will be part of a spirited battle for playing time and roster spots at Washington’s training camp this season. His willingness to play physical hockey sets him apart from many of the other defensemen on the Capitals’ roster, and that could help him carve out a spot for himself.

The signing of Erskine leaves only forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Jakub Klepis among the unsigned.