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Caps make major changes to medical staff

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VIa CapitalsPR Twitter

Caps make major changes to medical staff

The Capitals' athletic training staff is undergoing some major changes.

The team announced Tuesday that it has hired former Coyotes head athletic trainer Jason Serbus to handle the same responsibilities in Washington. Serbus, who worked in Arizona from 2008 through last season, replaces longtime trainer Greg Smith, who is retiring.

Smith had been the Caps’ head trainer since 1999. The 48-year-old Bowie native will continue in his role with D.C.-based Pivot Physical Therapy, the company he co-founded and owns.

RELATED: T.J. OSHIE WAS TOO IMPORTANT FOR THE CAPS TO LOSE THIS OFFSEASON

Under Smith, the Caps had been one of the NHL’s heathiest teams the past two seasons, having accrued an NHL-low 48 man games lost a year ago and just 109 the year before.

“It’s been a great 18 years behind the bench in Washington, and unfortunately I made the hard decision to reconnect and spend more time with the family,” Smith told CSN. “I haven’t missed one of my kids’ sporting events this summer.”

Smith and the team management had discussed a reduced/advisory position in recent weeks, but the team was unable to settle on a role for him.

Serbus, meanwhile, comes to Washington after nine seasons in Arizona. The Coyotes did not renew his contract this summer amid a broader house-cleaning following the team’s 28th place finish.

Prior to heading up the Coyotes’ training staff, Serbus was an assistant in Tampa Bay for three years. The Minnesota native has also been involved with Team USA at various international competitions.

In addition to adding Serbus, the Caps have also named Michael Booi assistant athletic trainer and Cleo Bates the team's new massage therapist. Booi takes over for Ben Reisz, who has decided to pursue other interests. Reisz had been with the Capitals for 10 years.

“We would like to thank Greg and Ben for their service, commitment and dedication to the Capitals,” GM Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “On behalf of everyone in our organization, we wish them both all the best in the future. We are also pleased to welcome Jason, Michael and Cleo to the organization. Their credentials and previous experience make them uniquely qualified to oversee our medical department and the health of our players.”

Although Smith’s contract expired in late June, he stayed around this summer to assist in the transition. Serbus and Booi have been with the Caps for several weeks now so they figure to be up to speed when training camp begins on Friday.

MORE CAPITALS: CAPS AMONG THE FAVORITES TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP

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The Capitals hung out with a bunch of dogs and puppies and it was great

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NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals hung out with a bunch of dogs and puppies and it was great

The Capitals had just about the best kind of afternoon anyone could have: They hung out with a bunch of dogs and took some pictures together. 

The team had its annual Caps Canine Calendar shoot Monday, and, of course, the photos from it capture some of the most adorable images of the players and their four-legged friends. While we'll have to wait for the actual calendar to come out to see everyone's perfect poses and smiles, here are a bunch of behind-the-scenes photos of the Caps and their pups. 

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MORE CAPS: Ovechkin says he expects to be fine after injury scare

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What does Andre Burakovsky's injury mean for the Caps?

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USA TODAY Sports

What does Andre Burakovsky's injury mean for the Caps?

While the Caps got some good news on Alex Ovechkin, the outlook wasn’t as positive for Andre Burakovsky on Monday.

Burakovsky, who suffered an upper-body injury late in Saturday’s game, could be sidelined, according to Coach Barry Trotz.

“I think he’s going to miss a little bit of time,” Trotz said after Monday’s practice, adding that he'll know more on Tuesday.

RELATED: DON'T PANIC, ALEX OVECHKIN SHOULD BE JUST FINE

Without Burakovsky, the Caps’ forward lines were as follows:

Tom Wilson – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Alex Chiasson
Brett Connolly – Lars Eller – Jakub Vrana
Nathan Walker – Jay Beagle – Devante Smith-Pelly

The changes include Chiasson moving to the second line, Vrana dropping to the third and Walker drawing back into the lineup.

As for Burakovsly, the nature of his injury remains unclear. The 22-year-old winger, however, appeared to hurt his left hand in the closing minutes of the Caps’ 4-1 loss to the Panthers. After drawing a hooking infraction, he removed his glove and began flexing his hand.

MORE CAPITALS: AFTER ROUGH START, CAPS NEED A SPARK OUT WEST

If Burakovsky is unable to suit up—the Caps make stops in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary later this week—Washington would likely recall Chandler Stephenson from Hershey, Trotz said.

The Caps have 12 forwards, but the team would not want to be on a five-day trip to Western Canada without an extra forward. (Tyler Graovac is week-to-week with an upper-body injury and Trotz said he will not travel with the team).

Stephenson was one of the last cuts at Caps training camp and has a Hershey-best five goals in six games after recording a hat trick over the weekend.