Alex Ovechkin

Leading by example: Alex Ovechkin drops in at rookie camp to participate

1 Comment

When an organization’s rookies take part in their camp in the week ahead of the main club’s training camp, it’s a good way for the coaches to see just what they’ve got going on depth-wise with the team.

Picture what would happen if the rookies got out on the ice and had the big team’s captain out there joining them in drills. That’s what happened Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Virginia today as the Caps rookies were joined by none other than Alex Ovechkin. Getting an appearance from the superstar captain is a stunning surprise and one that Caps coach Bruce Boudreau tells CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley he was happy to see.

“Alex wanted to get a little bit of a skate in,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If I’m a young guy and I see a man like that on the ice, it’s a pretty big wow factor.”

Boudreau said he remembers having a similar experience when he was a rookie in Toronto in the mid-1970s and he shared the ice with Darryl Sittler for the first time. It was the same feeling he had when he attended a hockey school with Bobby Orr as a teen-ager.

“I was pretty in awe,” he said.

Ovechkin spent the previous three days in New York and Newark, N.J., promoting the NHL’s 2011-12 season and asked Boudreau if he could get some ice time with the rookies.

“To see him take direction like he did and do what he was supposed to be doing without any airs about him, maybe that had something to do with how hard they worked,” Boudreau said.

That sounds like a guy leading the way as a captain and showing the kids the way it’s supposed to be done.

Ovechkin has gotten grief from all sorts of fans and onlookers about how he doesn’t appear to do the prototypical captain-like things on the ice or even in the locker room. It seems unfair to make those criticisms, yet they persist. Ovechkin showing up today unprovoked and working with the rookies even for just part of the time speaks like a guy that embraces being a leader.

Ovechkin’s role as a captain is one that’s always going to draw attention and as long as the Capitals aren’t advancing past the second round of the playoffs, it’ll bring heat that he’s going to have to take. With the moves the Caps have made this offseason and how they’ve tightened things up defensively, the Caps are built to be a winner and built to go deep in the playoffs.

With high expectations comes a lot of pressure and not just for Ovechkin but Boudreau as well. Seeing Ovechkin doing things like this, however, shows that he’s not just dedicated to making it work in the short term, but also for those that may one day be his teammates in Washington.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.