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Report: Leonsis negotiating to bring AFL team to Verizon Center

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Report: Leonsis negotiating to bring AFL team to Verizon Center

The Redskins won't be the only football team in Washington if Capitals, Wizards and Mystics owner Ted Leonsis has his way. 

Leonsis and his ownership group, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, are closing in on a deal to bring an Arena Football League team to the District, according to a Wednesday report by the Washington Post. The team would begin play as soon as the 2017 season and make its home at Verizon Center, also owned by Monumental. 

“We’re in serious negotiations and we’re excited about the opportunity,” Monumental executive vice president Randall Boe told the Post. “[The AFL is] very interested in having dedicated ownership groups like us who know how to manage teams and who know how to manage the business.” 

AFL commissioner Scott Butera echoed those sentiments. "We really like the Monumental group. We think they have a tremendous organization," he said. 

The D.C. sports market also drew praise from Butera. 

“It’s a great football town, if you look at the support the Redskins have had over the years, and the other teams in the area," he said. "The population density, the media attention, the fact that we’re looking for more presence on the East Coast: it’s a nice strategic fit for us."

Right now the AFL has eight teams divided into two conferences, but the geographic distribution isn't uniform after a recent league contraction. For example, the American Conference contains the Philadelphia Soul and three Florida-based franchises, with no team in between. 

The arena game differs from the NFL in key aspects: It's played indoors on a 50-yard field surrounded by padded walls. Instead of 11 players, each team has eight men on the field at a time. And there is no punting, only place kicking or drop kicking. 

Though there's never been an AFL team in Washington, there is one very prominent AFL veteran -- Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden won four ArenaBowls (the arena equivalent of the Super Bowl) during his playing days, plus a league MVP award. 

RELATED: Leonsis on when he first heard of and met Alex Ovechkin

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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

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USA TODAY Sports

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came at the 2:30 mark of the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby. On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life. The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.

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Wizards set to have Tim Frazier back against Cavs after nasal fracture surgery

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Wizards set to have Tim Frazier back against Cavs after nasal fracture surgery

The All-Star break came at a good time for Wizards point guard Tim Frazier, who missed their last game before the week off due to nasal fracture surgery.

Frazier was back at the Wizards' practice on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena and expects to play on Thursday when the team returns to action on the road at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I feel good. I feel like I can go out there and help them compete," he said.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Frazier, 27, had surgery to repair his broken nose on Feb. 11 after he was knocked out of the previous night's game between the Wizards and Bulls. Frazier collided face-first with the knee of Bobby Portis and was immediately ushered to the locker room with blood streaming from his nose.

Following the procedure, Frazier had to battle through pain and breathing issues. He feels much better now and had no complications after participating in a full practice.

The challenge now is adjusting to a fitted mask he will have to wear to return to the court. Frazier has never had to wear a mask before in his basketball career.

"[Sweat] was one of the issues today, trying to keep it dry when I'm sweating underneath," he said.

"He looked good," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he would be a little uncomfortable with it, but he seemed fine."

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

Frazier has been given advice from the Wizards' training staff, as well as teammate Bradley Beal who has had to wear a mask twice before in his career.

"Brad said that after a while you get used to it. Nobody wants to wear it for the rest of their careers besides Rip Hamilton," Frazier said.

Getting Frazier back is significant for the Wizards, who are already down a point guard with John Wall rehabbing from left knee surgery. Without Frazier against the Knicks on Wednesday, the Wizards had to use Beal and Otto Porter to bring the ball up at times. Now, with Tomas Satoransky and Frazier, they have a starting point guard and a backup who is used to playing the position.

They could have three point guards, as the Wizards continue to weigh their options in free agency. They have to add a player within the next two days to meet the league's minimum roster requirement. Most of the free agents they have evaluated have been point guards as they aim to compensate for Wall's absence, which could last well into the month of March.

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