Capitals

Redskins' Shanahan puts new spin on comments

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Redskins' Shanahan puts new spin on comments

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) A clearly agitated Mike Shananhan gave a new spin to his remarks about the state of the Washington Redskins on Monday, insisting that he hadn't given up on the playoffs.

Shanahan admitted that he perhaps didn't give the ``perfect quote'' and that his words might not have been ``crystal clear'' when he spoke in the aftermath of Sunday's 21-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers, who entered the game with just one win on the season.

Shanahan had called the game a ``must-win.'' It turned into the Redskins' third straight loss and dropped their record to 3-6, prompting the coach to say after the game:

``You lose a game like that, now you're playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come. ... Obviously, we're not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we've got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.''

Such speeches are common in the NFL, but they're usually spoken in mid-December when a team is clearly out of the running. Redskins players were perplexed that Shanahan was essentially throwing in the towel on the playoff chase with seven games remaining, including five against the NFC East.

Stung by the reaction to his words, Shanahan took to the podium Monday and his postgame transcript out loud - then made a rambling attempt to explain it.

``The remaining seven games that we have, each game, is kind of like a playoff game,'' Shanahan said. ``And what you want to do is see how your players respond. ... We will see how they play from now on for the rest of the season, and we'd better get their best shot because they'll be evaluated every game.''

Shanahan added that any inference that he would play young players at the cost of attempting to win was ``completely ludicrous.'' He said he will address the issue with his players before they break for the upcoming bye week.

``What you need to do is stop it right away and tell the team what you meant, or what you intended to say, even though it might not have crystal clear,'' Shanahan said. ``I think everybody that knows me since I've been here, it doesn't matter what your record is, we're going to play to win every game.''

The players will practice Tuesday and then get five days off. Shanahan said he will use the time to evaluate players, coaches and schemes, but that he plans no changes to his staff.

Shanahan declined to speculate whether he still has the confidence of owner Dan Snyder, who has never let a coach remain this long without making a playoff appearance.

``You'll have to ask Dan Sndyer that. ... I know I'm going in the right direction,'' the coach said.

Shanahan is 14-27 in Washington. He said the rebuilding project is taking time because he had to ``start over again'' because he inherited an older roster without sufficient draft picks. He also cited the Redskins' $18 million salary cap penalty imposed by the NFL this season as a hindrance to his personnel plans.

Either way, the Redskins are in a familiar position, seemingly again headed for the drudgery of playing out the string. Rookies and veterans will be auditioning to be a part of the future with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the one player on the roster who truly matters. Washington is on pace for its fourth consecutive season with double-digit losses - and its 11th in the last 20 years.

The evidence on the field supports the notion that the Redskins aren't playoff-bound. The defense continues to give up big plays and can't get any pressure on the quarterback. The offense lacks a big-play receiver, especially with tight end Fred Davis and wideout Pierre Garcon both injured. Washington had 13 penalties for 97 yards Sunday is committing an NFL-worst 8.3 penalties per game, more than twice as many as the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons.

Even Griffin, who seemed capable of willing his team to victory in the early weeks, is tapering off from his hot start. His completion percentage has dipped, and an offense that looked a sure bet to put up some 30 points regularly has scored only one touchdown in each of the last two games. The longer he's around, the easier it is for defenses to examine the video and devise a game plan to slow him down.

Griffin vowed that ``you'll see a different team'' after the Redskins return from the bye. If there's not significant improvement, speculation will inevitably turn to whether there will be a different coach after the season.

``I see some tremendous strides,'' Shanahan said. ``Hopefully it's not only me (who sees it), hopefully it's Dan as well.''

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Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

DALLAS—The Capitals have dealt backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round pick, the team announced shortly before the NHL Draft kicked off Friday at American Airlines Center.

GM Brian MacLellan was widely expected to deal Grubauer, a 26-year-old who wanted the opportunity to be a No. 1. As a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was also coming off a strong season, Grubauer was due a significant raise.

“We would like to thank Brooks and Philipp for all of their contributions to our organization,” MacLellan said in a statement. “Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best.”

Trading Orpik, on the other hand, was a bit unexpected, particularly considering how much 37-year-old’s play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed the 37-year-old’s $5.5 million cap hit for next season—an important development given the Caps’ tight salary cap situation and the number of key players who need new contracts. John Carlson, Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek are unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Avalanche are expected to help Orpik land or a preferred spot, whether via trade or buyout. By taking on Orpik in the deal, Friedman reported, the Avs only had to give up one pick.

“Brooks,” MacLellan continued, “was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”

Will moving out Grubauer and eliminating Orpik’s cap charge allow MacLellan to re-sign Carlson, who's set to become the top defenseman on the free agent market? That’s unclear—even with the salary cap ceiling going up to $79.5 million—but it sure helps the Caps’ cause.

Dealing Orpik also opens up a spot for a young and inexpensive defenseman such as Christian Djoos or Madison Bowey to take on a bigger role in 2018-19.

Without Grubauer, the Caps are likely to turn to Pheonix Copley as their backup next season. And if Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum of $650,000 next season, starts the year in Washington, that allows 2015 first round pick Ilya Samsonov to take the reins in Hershey.

The second round pick the Caps received in exchange for Grubauer and Orpik is the 47th overall selection.

MacLellan is expected to speak to reporters following the first round later Friday night. The Caps currently hold the 31st overall pick.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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