October 1, 2014

About Katie Brown

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Capitals. She resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. She is co-host of Girls Just Wanna Have Puck podcast. You can follow Katie on Twitter @katie_brown47.

A breakdown of the Washington Capitals 2015 Winter Classic sweaters

Washington Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis took the podium at National’s Park on Tuesday afternoon, joined by other prominent names in the hockey world to reveal the jerseys the Capitals will wear for the 2015 Winter Classic.

“New Year’s Day used to be about college football. Now New Year’s Day is about the NHL,” said Leonsis.

A bold statement, as New Year’s Day is still mostly dominated by college football, but now cedes some of the spotlight to the NHL, since the Winter Classic series began in 2008. Leonsis says he knew he wanted one to be in DC since he watched the inaugural game with his family six years ago.

The wait for the Winter Classic sweaters, for fans, at least was perhaps more arduous than waiting for the venue to be announced. The Capitals’ opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks, was old news, and it seemed clear from the initial announcement at Capitals Fan Fest on September 21, 2013 that Nationals Park was the venue that made the most sense for the event (this was confirmed September 6 in a report by the Washington Post and later confirmed by the NHL).

But what would they wear?

Taking into account that the franchise is celebrating their 40th anniversary this upcoming season, it was expected that some type of retro design would be used. While teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have been in existence since 1917, the Capitals comparatively don’t have the benefit of almost 10 decades to draw from.

Unlike the 2011-12 season, where the Capitals introduced a 1974-era third jersey similar to the one worn in the 2011 Winter Classic (essentially the same), the 2015 Winter Classic sweaters are not currently planned to be used as third jerseys, according to the Capitals’ senior writer Mike Vogel. It is always possible that these sweaters could eventually replace the current third jerseys at some point in the future, but that’s not in the plans right now.

Since the retro 1974-esque theme had already been done, the Capitals delved into the history of hockey in Washington D.C., namely the Washington Eagles, an Eastern Hockey League (EHL) team, who played where the Kennedy Center stands now, from 1939-1942. After the Eagles folded, a new team, the Washington Lions, was formed, and played in D.C. in different iterations from 1941-1957. The Lions were relocated to Cincinnati and became the Mohawks, but the Lions were resurrected and persisted until 1957, when their name was changed to the Washington Presidents, who hung around through 1960, when the Washington Chiefs entered the D.C.  sports scene. The Chiefs were considered an independent team, and played from 1971-1976. The Capital Centre was built in 1973, and ushered in a new era of hockey in D.C – the Washington Capitals.

The NHL, the Capitals and Reebok designed the sweaters, according to a press release, and began the process about a year ago.

The design combines several The principal color of the jerseys is described as a “deep red”, technically a shade called oxblood, somewhere between bordeaux and burgundy (thanks, Pantone), a departure from the typical bright Capitals red, and gives the sweaters a vintage look. Stripes on each shoulder, the waist of the jersey, and the legs are meant to harken to the jersey of the Washington Eagles of the 1930s and ’40s.

The 1941-42 Washington Eagles. Image courtesy of http://icehockey.wikia.com/.

The 1941-42 Washington Eagles. Image courtesy of http://icehockey.wikia.com/

The “Capitals” wordmark emblazoned on the front is in all capital letters (a clever touch, to be sure) and incorporates stars, a signature look present on Capitals jerseys throughout the years.. Underneath the stars, a large “W” in Prussian blue (also known as midnight blue) dominates the chest. But this is no ordinary “W”. The letter stands for Washington, obviously, but it contains a hidden message – the center of the letter is curved in such a way as to represent the shape of the Washington Monument. The “W” symbol is also present on the pants (which are also blue) the players will wear with the jersey.

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

WC 6

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

WC 13

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

Player numbers, as well as “C” and “A” designations are in white, outlined in the same Prussian blue as the “W” on the chest and the pants. The contrast created by the bright white set in blue accent helps the numbers pop, which is helpful for announcers calling the game and spectators watching from the stands.

WC 11

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

WC 10

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

WC 9

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

WC 8

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

WC 7

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

WC 3

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

The pants feature a star design on the outside of each leg, bookended by white stripes. The “W” on the left leg of the pants is in white with three white stars perched atop the letter.

Unlike many jerseys that feature faux laces at the neck, the jerseys have actual laces, accented by the Prussian blue around the collar.

WC 5

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

WC 2

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

Seen in broad daylight, the oxblood color of the jersey stands out more than against the red background that doesn’t offer much contrast or lend itself to accentuating the nuances of the design.

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

Image courtesy of Monumental Network.

Washington Capitals announce season-long celebration of franchise’s 40th anniversary

For the Washington Capitals and its fans, opening night of the 2014-15 regular season will hold more than just the excitement of beginning another year of hockey. When they host the Montreal Canadiens on October 9, it will mark the 40th anniversary of the very first game played by the Capitals on October 9, 1974 against the New York Rangers. To mark the occasion, Capitals legends (to be announced) will participate in a ceremonial puck drop, and the Capitals will wear their white alternate sweaters for the game.

The Capitals announced Wednesday that all players will wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys throughout the season, which features the Capitals weagle and a six stars logo. All game pucks will also feature the anniversary graphic (seeOPE below).


Press release:

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals will celebrate the team’s 40th anniversary season during the 2014-15 NHL campaign with several season-long initiatives in honor of the team’s history, players and fan base.

The Capitals 40th anniversary season celebration includes a commemorative logo, featuring the Capitals weagle and six stars in honor of the history of the Capitals. The logo will be worn as a patch on the team’s jerseys throughout the season and displayed on all home game pucks.

The Capitals’ Opening Night at Verizon Center presented by GEICO against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 9 marks the anniversary of the franchise’s first game at the New York Rangers on Oct. 9, 1974. To commemorate the occasion, Capitals legends will participate in a ceremonial puck drop, and the Capitals will wear white alternate uniforms during the home opener.

As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations, Caps fans will have the opportunity to vote for 10 additions to the 30th team, building upon fans’ selection of the 30 best Capitals in 2004 to create the 40 Greatest Caps. Voting begins on Wednesday, Sept. 10, on WashingtonCaps.com and continues through the pre-season, with the first of the 40 Greatest Caps acknowledged during the regular season home opener on Oct. 9. Over the course of the season the Capitals will honor the 40 Greatest Caps by recognizing members during Capitals home games.

In addition an enhanced history section will launch on WashingtonCaps.com, featuring infographics, in-depth features on Caps alumni, profiles on the original Caps 30th anniversary team, vintage photo galleries and statistical overviews of all Capitals seasons.

The 2014-15 season also will include a number of special events and promotions, including a 40th anniversary schedule magnet giveaway on Opening Night at Verizon Center presented by GEICO on Oct. 9 and an Alex Ovechkin bobblehead giveaway featuring the commemorative patch on Jan. 20. Additional promotions will be announced at a later date.



Capitals Winter Classic jerseys will be unveiled September 23 at Nationals Park

Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Capitals announced that the 2015 Winter Classic venue is indeed Nationals Park in DC. The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt reported September 6 that a deal had been reached between the NHL and Nationals Park, confirming reports swirling since last September, when Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis announced that the Capitals would be hosting the event in 2015.

Additionally, the Capitals’ Winter Classic jerseys will be revealed at a special event to be held at Nationals Park on September 23.

Press release:

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals will host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015, at Nationals Park, the National Hockey League, the Washington Capitals and the Washington Nationals announced today. In addition, the Capitals NHL Winter Classic uniforms will be unveiled during a special event at Nationals Park on Sept. 23 at 12 p.m.

“The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® has made New Year’s Day a highlight of the season for NHL fans everywhere,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Nationals Park provides an ideal setting for all the excitement, entertainment and fun as the Blackhawks and Capitals bring our outdoor tradition to historic Washington, D.C.”

“We are thrilled the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be played at Nationals Park as we welcome the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans to our nation’s capital,” Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis said. “We are delighted the D.C. area and our great fan base will have an opportunity to experience the Winter Classic, and we know that Nationals Park will provide an incredible backdrop for the game.”

Nationals Park is located in Southeast Washington, south of the Capitol, adjacent to the Navy Yard. The 41,546 seat venue opened in March 2008 and is home to the Washington Nationals.

“We are honored to have been selected to host the NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park,” said Mark D. Lerner, one of the Washington Nationals Principal Owners and Vice Chairman. “The Classic is one of North America’s premier sports events, and we look forward to sharing our ballpark and our city with NHL fans from around the world.”

In celebration of the much-anticipated outdoor game, the Capitals will unveil their NHL Winter Classic uniforms during a special event at Nationals Park on Sept. 23 at noon. Commissioner Bettman, Leonsis, Lerner, along with Capitals president Dick Patrick, general manager Brian MacLellan, Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, center Nicklas Backstrom and goaltender Braden Holtby, will attend the event and will be available to the media following the ceremony.

The 2015 game will mark the seventh Winter Classic, an annual game that Forbes magazine called the best new sporting event of the last decade. It will mark the second time in history the Capitals will play an outdoor game. Washington defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in front of 68,111 fans at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Jan. 1, 2011.

The 2014 NHL Winter Classic on NBC tied the highest-rated NHL regular-season sell out game in nearly four decades and became the second-most watched game in 39 years (4.4 million average viewers). The five previous NHL Winter Classics have produced the five most-watched NHL regular-season games in the past 39 years (average viewers). The Blackhawks will appear in the Winter Classic for the second time. Chicago hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in the 2009 Winter Classic. Washington is 24-15-5-1 all-time at home against Chicago, including a 4-0 win over the Blackhawks on April 11 at Verizon Center.

The 2015 event also will feature a Spectator Plaza that offers hockey-themed attractions, music and fun for fans of all ages. Further details on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, including ticketing information and uniform design for each team, will be released in the coming weeks. Every Washington Capitals full-season ticket member, partial plan member and group leader will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Details on ticket availability and pricing will be sent to full season-ticket members, partial plan holders and group leaders when they become available.


Washington Capitals rookie camp scheduled to begin September 11

A week from now, a fresh squad of rookies will take the ice at Kettler Iceplex for the Washington Capitals annual rookie camp starting September 11, the Capitals PR confirmed today. As mentioned below, several of the players participating in rookie camp will also be invited to training camp to compete for a spot on the final roster.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 3, 2014

Capitals Announce Rookie Camp Schedule; Training Camp Begins Sept. 19

Capitals and Flyers Rookies to Face Off in Philadelphia on Sept. 16

ARLINGTON, Va. – The 2014 Washington Capitals Rookie Camp will begin on Thursday, Sept. 11 and will run through Tuesday, Sept. 16, when the Capitals rookies face off against the Philadelphia Flyers’ rookies at 3 p.m. at Flyers Skate Zone, the official practice facility of the Philadelphia Flyers, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

All on-ice workouts at Kettler Capitals Iceplex are open to the public and free of charge. Select participants in rookie camp will be invited to join veteran players in training camp, which begins Friday, Sept. 19 (first on-ice session). Like rookie camp, all training camp on-ice workouts are open to the public.

Among the Capitals rookies scheduled to participate in the camp will be forwards Andre Burakovsky, Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson and goaltender Pheonix Copley. A complete roster will be released at a later date.

Washington Capitals Rookie Camp Schedule


Day                                         Time                                                    Event

Thursday, Sept. 11                   3 p.m. – 4 p.m.                                    Practice (Capitals Rink)

4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.                          On-ice testing (Capitals Rink)

Friday, Sept. 12                       10 a.m. – 11 a.m.                                 Practice (Arlington Rink)

11 a.m. – 12 p.m.                                Conditioning Test (Capitals Rink)

Saturday, Sept. 13                    9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.                         Practice (Arlington Rink)

10:15 a.m. – 11 a.m.                            Practice (Capitals Rink)

Sunday, Sept. 14                      9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.                         Practice (Arlington Rink)

10:15 a.m. – 11 a.m.                            Practice (Capitals Rink)

Monday, Sept. 15                    9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.                         Practice (Arlington Rink)

10:15 a.m. – 11 a.m.                            Practice (Capitals Rink)

Tuesday, Sept. 16                    3 p.m.                                                  Capitals at Flyers (Flyers Skate Zone)

Washington Capitals make big moves in free agency to address defensive depth

The opening day of free agency has traditionally not been a day when the Washington Capitals have made much of a splash. This year, however, was a different story. New Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan has already proven himself unafraid of taking risks – and spending a little money in the process.

Signing former Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen – and effectively locking up $68 million dollars between them — represents two of the largest deals of the beginning of free agency. Orpik’s contract was five years, $5.5 million and Niskanen’s contract is for seven years at $5.75 million. Both contracts contain a limited no trade clause as well.

Todd Reirden, newly appointed assistant coach in charge of defense, who worked with Orpik and Niskanen in his former position in Pittsburgh, was speculated to have influenced the signings of both players, but MacLellan told reporters the two players were on his radar long before Reirden’s hiring.

“It’s a big commitment by our organization and hopefully the players see the commitment by both ownership and management to address perceived needs that we do have,” MacLellan told reporters. “I’m excited about it and hopefully they are too.”

The money spent was also prioritized for Orpik’s signing, not Niskanen, as has been speculated. Orpik, according to MacLellan, was always the main target for the Caps. That Niskanen, who was courted by at least 10 teams, chose Washington as his destination was icing on the cake for the Capitals.

“The total dollars were centered around Brooks,” said MacLellan. “We needed to get him in first because we thought that was our greatest need. We tried to get him to stay as low as possible. We struggled with that first year for a while and then we ended up we felt we had to go there because it was getting so competitive.”

MacLellan feels that the Capitals addressed their greatest needs via free agency – goaltending and defense – not the draft, as had been widely panned. “I think we had some needs and we addressed them,” MacLellan said. “We had cap room. Ownership gave the green light to get to the cap and we spent the money where we thought we needed to spend it the most.”

“I like our defense. We have six really good defensemen. I think we have good balance now. I think we’re gonna let it play out and see how we’re doing,” said MacLellan. “We’ve added two new guys and I think it might take a little time to get the chemistry going.”

He elaborated a bit on what defensive pairings might look like with the additions of Niskanen and Orpik, as well. Orpik and Carlson were mentioned as a possible shutdown paring. Add Alzner/Niskanen and Orlov/Green to that equation, and the Capitals blue line looks the best it has in years.

 Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Capitals. She grew up in Virginia and Maryland, currently resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. She is co-host of Girls Just Wanna Have Puck podcast. You can follow Katie on Twitter @katie_brown47.

Capitals draft Australian Nathan Walker in third round of NHL Draft

Nathan Walker, the Washington Capitals’ third round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft, is a familiar face to those who follow the team. Walker has been a part of the Capitals organization since signing with the Hershey Bears of the AHL in 2013 after attending Washington’s development camp.

The Capitals traded their 104th and 118th overall picks to the Rangers and moved up to 89th overall and selected Walker, who is the first Australian ever to be drafted into the NHL. Walker was born in Wales, but raised in Sydney, Australia. He moved to the Czech Republic at age 13 and became the youngest player in the Czech Extraliga league. He was listed as the top European skater in the 2012 NHL Draft, but was not selected that year.

In 43 games with the Bears, Walker scored 5 goals and had 6 assists and logged 40 penalty minutes.

Walker did not make the trip to Philadelphia, so he was not available to reporters for comment.


Washington Capitals trade up in second round, select goalie Vitek Vanecek

NHL Central Scouting has Czech goaltender Vitek Vanecek ranked as the eighth best European goalie in this year’s draft. The Capitals traded their 44th and 74th picks to Buffalo and moved up to 39th, where they selected Vanecek, a goaltender from the Czech Republic. The Capitals drafted Vanecek’s teammate, Jakub Vrana, 13th overall. Vrana and Vanecek were named two of the top 3 players on each team as selected by coaches of the Czech team at the U18 World Championship this year. Here’s what we know about Vanecek  (Hockeysfuture.com scouting report):

Vaněček is an athletic, 6-foot-1 and 181-pound goaltender who uses his reflexes, a quick glove and blocker to stone the opponents. He’s been able to make big saves all season long, relying on his reflexes and athleticism. On the other hand, he’s been suffering from inconsistency as he sometimes just has a bad day. Not only has Vaněček been an efficient netminder in junior hockey, but he’s also made the first couple of steps towards the professional leagues.


Capitals first round pick Vrana: “I want to be the best”

Jakub Vrana left the Czech Republic at age 15 to play in Sweden’s U18 league, and 3 years later, his parents made their first trip to the United States to see their son drafted into the NHL.

It was his mother’s first time in an airplane, and she was uneasy. “She was really nervous, but I tired to help her a little bit,” said Vrana.

Leaving home at such a young age was understandably difficult for him, but he understood it would pave the way for his career.

“I was there alone, in an apartment. I needed to learn a lot of stuff there, let’s say cooking, so I think that helped me a lot with life, too,” said Vrana. “Of course I miss my family, but the choice of why I go there is hockey, and I love hockey. I was really happy every day, with the practices and everything. “

Vrana says he doesn’t know many NHL players, but his playing style has been compared to Los Angeles Kings winger Marian Gaborik. He is confident he can put in the necessary work to make it to the NHL. “I just want to try to do everything to make the team,” he said.

“I think you can make better everything as a player, so I will work on everything. I want to be better at everything. I want to be the best.”

He’s not sure what it will take to make it in the NHL yet, though, since he hasn’t been tested.“I haven’t been in any camps yet, I haven’t tried it, so we will see. I will fight about my spot and do my best.”

The Capitals took Vrana 13th overall after trying to move up a couple picks to take defenseman Haydn Fleury, according to general manager Brian MacClellan. It obviously didn’t pan out, so Vrana was their choice.

There is a connection between the Capitals and Vrana, as well. While in the Czech Republic, Vrana played most of his young life at former Capitals defenseman Frantisek Kucera, who played 56 games with the franchise before being traded to Pittsburgh as part of the maligned Jaromir Jagr trade. Kucera’s brother, Vojtek is a Capitals scout.

“I know their one scout [Vojtek], his brother owned the rink where I played when I played in Czech, so I know him really well. It was nice to see him there, not only in the rink but every day I was in Czech.”

Regarded as a fast skater with a hard shot, Vrana considers himself a “finisher,” that is, he excels at scoring goals rather than setting them up. Though he’s struggled to find ice time with Linkoping this season (2 goals in 24 games), he said working on defense after practices has helped him improve in a weak area as well.

When asked about his emotional approach to the game, he quipped, “You never know when is going to be your last goal. You have to celebrate it.”



Todd Reirden named Washington Capitals assistant coach

On the heels of Mitch Korn’s appointment as head goaltending coach in Washington, former Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Todd Reirden will now work alongside Barry Trotz as the new Capitals assistant coach.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have named Todd Reirden assistant coach, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

Reirden, 43, spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins and worked closely with Pittsburgh’s defensemen and power-play unit. Under his guidance, the Penguins’ power play scored the most power-play goals (164) and posted the highest power-play percentage (22.3%) in the NHL since 2011. Reirden oversaw a defensive corps that ranked seventh in goals (38) in 2013-14, sent three players to the 2014 Winter Olympics (Olli Maatta, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik) and ranked in the top 12 in goals against in three of his four seasons with the team. He also helped develop defenseman Kris Letang into a two-time NHL All-Star and 2013 Norris Trophy finalist and helped Matt Niskanen post the highest plus/minus (+33) among NHL defensemen in 2013-14.

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL and was promoted to head coach following Dan Bylsma’s promotion to Pittsburgh. In his two seasons as head coach of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Reirden guided the team to a 55-43-8 record and has seen 36 of his former players reach the NHL, including 15 defensemen who played in the NHL during the 2013-14 season. During the 2009 playoffs, the Deerfield, Ill., native joined Pittsburgh’s extended playoff coaching staff and assisted with in-game adjustments, helping the team capture the Stanley Cup. Prior to joining the Penguins organization, Reirden spent one season as an assistant coach with his alma mater – the Bowling Green Falcons.

Reirden was selected by New Jersey in the 12th round, 242nd overall, in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. He recorded 46 points (11g, 35a) and 181 penalty minutes in 183 career NHL games with Edmonton, St. Louis, Atlanta and Phoenix.

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