Capitals

Quick Links

The mental challenge of transitioning from celebrating a championship to defending it

The mental challenge of transitioning from celebrating a championship to defending it

We’ve all been there.

That day you go back to work or school after a long vacation. Even if you like your job, you get that feeling of dread as that day approaches. It consumes you. You don’t want to get out of bed, you don’t want to go into the office and you definitely don’t want to work.

It was a very short summer for the Capitals who saw their season end in mid-June. After a grueling 82-game season followed by another 24 playoff games, not only did the Caps put in more work than every team in the league last season except Vegas, they also had less time to recover.

But the long season is not the biggest obstacle facing the Caps as they return to Washington, at least not according to Evgeny Kuznetsov.

“It’s not the long season, it’s most the celebration after,” Kuznetsov said after an on-ice workout Wednesday at MedStar Iceplex. “It’s kind of tough to stop and focus on the work.”

It may have been a short offseason, but it was a long party.

But at some point over the summer, the players had to flip the switch and move on from celebrating a championship to preparing to defend it.

For Kuznetsov, he was forced to train get back into shape quickly to keep up with the players he trains with.

“I did a great job with the guys I practice with,” Kuznetsov said. “When I get back home, they already practice so I have to go and practice with them so thanks for them.”

The challenge the team now faces, however, is not just a physical one.

As the defending champs, Washington will enter the season with a target on its back. That means trouble if the team enters the season satisfied with a championship rather than hungry for a repeat.

“Of course there's some teams going to think about that, going to talk about that, they want to play against the Stanley Cup champ,” Kuznetsov said. “I don't think we have to change anything, we just have to play our game. That's history already. We have to focus on the next future.”

 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: 

Quick Links

NHL Players' Association Executive Board approves return-to-ice plan as league takes one step closer to return

NHL Players' Association Executive Board approves return-to-ice plan as league takes one step closer to return

The NHL took another step toward a return to the ice late on Tuesday night when the Executive Board of the NHL Players’ Association approved the tentative agreement between the league and its union. 

There are still two steps to go. The NHLPA Executive Board now opens up the memorandum of understanding to its full membership. Every player will have a vote. The NHL Board of Governors also must approve the MOU. 

If that happens? We will have hockey soon – barring the coronavirus pandemic wrecking things as it has for months. 

Players will report to their team facilities by July 13 for training camps as the league attempts to execute its return-to-play plan. Twenty-four teams will travel to the two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton, on July 26 for round-robin games, qualifying playoff games and the full 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs. 

There is no set date for when owners must approve the memorandum, but players are expected to be finished their vote by next Monday in time for training camps.

RELATED: NHL, NHLPA ADD 4 YEARS TO CURRENT CBA  

The Capitals are set to play the Bruins, Flyers and Lightning in a round-robin tournament for seeding in the Eastern Conference. The defending champion Blues, Oilers, Avalanche and Golden Knights will do the same in the Western Conference. 

The 16 other teams that will continue play have a best-of-five preliminary round to whittle the Stanley Cup field to its usual 16 teams playing best-of-seven series. 
The agreement also extends the current Collective Bargaining Agreement until at least 2026, buying labor peace the NHL has rarely found with its players. It also opens the door to Winter Olympics participation in Beijing (2022) and Milan (2026). 

Now, we wait for the next two crucial votes and hockey will be in sight. 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

 

Quick Links

NHL, NHL Players' Association agree to tentative return-to-play plan, CBA extension

NHL, NHL Players' Association agree to tentative return-to-play plan, CBA extension

The NHL and NHL Players' Association came to a tentative agreement on a Return to Play plan and added four years to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement on Monday evening.

Players will report to their team facilities by July 13 for training camps as the league attempts to return from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Twenty four teams will travel to the two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton, on July 26 for round-robin games, qualifying playoff games and the full 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The memorandum of understanding still must be approved by the full NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA’s Executive Board and full membership. That process will take place this week with no formal date set for ratification by all parties. 

That brings the NHL a huge step closer to its long-awaited return to the ice. There are still hurdles between now and then, however.

MLS was set to begin play this week on its own before FC Dallas had to withdraw from the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando when 10 players and a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. The NHL shut down on March 12 and entered the day with 35 players testing positive for the novel coronavirus since June 8.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

There is still a long way to go before the Capitals arrive in Toronto to play round-robin games against the Flyers, Bruins and Lightning. Those games and the qualifying round for now are set to start Aug. 1. 

That’s the big news for this season. There was more news for the future, though. The NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement was set to expire after the 2021-22 season. 

Now, it will continue through 2025-26. NHL players will return to the Winter Olympics in 2022 (Beijing) and 2026 (Milan) - as long as the league and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can agree on terms. That’s always a giant question mark, but at least there’s hope there. Players were furious at having to miss the 2018 games in South Korea after the IIHF and the NHL failed to agree. 

It could still be a week before NHL players can approve the deal and the coronavirus has proved for months it can wreck anything at any time. But for now, hockey is on track to return next month. 

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: