Via D.C. Sports Bog (h/t Wysh), Capitals GM George McPhee spoke to ESPN 980 Tuesday and disclosed that Alex Ovechkin once played at 242 pounds. (You can download the podcast here.)
According to NHL.com, that would make him the 15th-heaviest player in the league, the same as Dustin Penner. (Though that doesn’t account for all the liars.)
McPhee noted that Ovechkin’s commitment to the game is “a lot better than it was,” but yikes – 242 pounds?
“He’s in terrific shape right now,” McPhee said. “And guys do different things in the summer. Ovi’s usually gotten by by just being a great athlete. Show up and play. And we’ve talked to him, that doesn’t happen in this league. At some point it has to kick in, you have to train, and he’s at 224 right now. And he hasn’t been at 224 in a few years.”
McPhee added: “He played at 242 once, and he got suspended for hitting a few people. And he was crushing guys, and he loved crushing guys, and we said you know what, Bruce [Boudreau] always thought he was a better player at about 227… And you can see it when he’s moving out there, he’s flying.”
It’s not clear whether Ovechkin bulked up to 242 pounds because “he loved crushing guys” or because he loved crushing booze and buffets. Teammate Brooks Laich said last year that Ovechkin is just “big boned”…
Anyway, McPhee also said he wants Dale Hunter to keep coaching next season and – since he believes injuries to Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom are to blame for most of the team’s struggles – isn’t planning any big changes if the Caps miss the playoffs.
We wonder if owner Ted Leonsis feels the same way.
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.