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Dick Patrick receives one of hockey's highest honors

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Dick Patrick receives one of hockey's highest honors

In 1990, a total of 15 high schools in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region offered high school hockey programs for approximately 250 players.

Today the region boasts 110 high school hockey teams and more than 2,300 players.

Capitals team president Dick Patrick will be the first to tell you he cannot take full credit for the explosion of youth and adult hockey in the DMV region. But it’s the biggest reason he is being honored by the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame tonight as its 2012 recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy, an award named after Patrick’s grandfather and given annually to a man or woman who has provided outstanding service to hockey in the United States.

“Dick has always supported the grassroots level of hockey in Washington,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “He knows it’s critical for the growth of the sport that kids get to play and enjoy it enough to play it for life. We not only have a lot of kids playing, but we have a lot of adults playing as well.”

One of those adults is Duante Abercrombie, a 25-year-old forward from D.C., who played youth hockey at Fort Dupont, went on to play for Gonzaga College High School and Hampton University. Abercrombie said he has never met Patrick but appreciates the efforts that led to the opportunities hockey has afforded him.

“A lot of youth organizations in this area are starting to grow and really put players on the map,” Abercrombie said. “D.C. is not a hotbed, but it’s no longer a place where people say hockey players don’t come from D.C. and it’s definitely because of the Capitals.”

Abercrombie said three of his Gonzaga teammates, Andrew Panzarello, Patrick Cullen and Michael Clemente, have gone on to play in college or the pros and he said it’s only a matter of time before a player trained in the D.C. region is playing the NHL.

Since 2009 Washington Capitals Charities has provided nearly $100,000 to the Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association John Crerar Hockey Development Grants program. Last year’s $25,000 grant was distributed to 16 area hockey programs to increase participation and promote hockey within Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Thanks in part to the grant PVAHA had 2,141 new players during the 2011-12 season, an increase of 13 percent from the season before. In the past four years the PVAHA’s participation has increased by 35 percent.

To Patrick, tonight’s induction is as much a testament to others’ efforts as it is to his own.

“There are hundreds of people involved in youth hockey that make it what it is,” Patrick said. “The coaches who volunteer their time, the parents who drive their kids to and from practices and games. The list goes on and on.

“To me, the satisfaction is seeing how much the kids enjoy playing the game and what we’re beginning to see now is parents passing their love for the game down to their children.”

Patrick comes from one of hockey’s most royal families. His grandfather, Lester followed his playing career by serving as a coach and then general manager of the New York Rangers from 1926 to 1946 and the old Patrick Division was named after him.

Dick Patrick’s father, Muzz, was also a star player and general manager of the Rangers, and his cousin, Craig, served as general manager of the Penguins. Dick Patrick has quietly made his mark on the Capitals since being named president in 1982.

“The Washington Capitals would not be what they are today without Dick Patrick,” McPhee said. “The one thing you can say about him is that he’s a gentleman He’s as fine a man as there is, in my mind. He never raises his voice. He always makes you feel comfortable in his presence. He allows his staff to make their own decisions and he’s quick with a smile.”

McPhee said one of Patrick’s greatest contributions to the Capitals was his involvement in the construction of Kettler Capitals Iceplex atop the Ballston Mall in Arlington.

“That was Dick’s project all the way,” McPhee said. “He had to make sure this was going to work for the community and for the Capitals and he made it work. Everyone’s happy.”
Capitals coach Adam Oates said the organization’s move to Kettler, along with the construction of its new home at Verizon Center, cemented its reputation as a first-class organization.

“The environment is way more top-notch now,” he said. “At least I feel it is. The culture has changed.”

More than anything McPhee said he respects Patrick for the quiet strength he has given the Capitals for more than three decades.

“He’s been a very solid backbone for this franchise,” McPhee said. “He’s enhanced the Patrick name and legacy. He’s a very smart guy but refreshingly humble.

“I discuss everything we do with Dick. Not that I have to, not that he needs to know, but it helps to discuss all of our moves with Dick because he’s seen it all before. We value his opinion. He doesn’t offer it unless you ask, and he’s very comfortable allowing you to make your own decision.”

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Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

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Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Fourth line forwards

Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

 

2018-19 stats

 

Noel Acciari (27 years old):72 games played with the Boston Bruins, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, 12:59 TOI

 

Playoffs: 19 games played with the Boston Bruins, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 13:10 TOI

 

Marcus Kruger (29 years old): 74 games played with the Chicago Blackhawks, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, 10:25 TOI

 

Playoffs: None

 

Hockey-Graph contract projections

 

Noel Acciari: 2 years, $1,180,934 cap hit

 

Marcus Kruger: 1 year, $861,030 cap hit

 

The case for Noel Acciari

Plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame. A perfect fit at right wing on the fourth line for Washington. The native New Englander, who played at Providence, is a home-grown Bruin and might not want to leave home, but Boston also might not have the cap space to give an obvious fourth-line player a decent raise. The Capitals might not, either, but for now, they really only have to add in RFA Jakub Vrana’s new contract and figure out what they’re going to do with RFA Andre Burakovsky. 

 

Acciari is renowned for his character and toughness. He was a college captain for Providence and helped the Friars win an NCAA title in 2015. There’s never been a shot he’s unwilling to block. Acciari sustained a broken sternum in the second round against Columbus and a blocked shot with his right foot in Game 7 of the Cup Final left him in a walking boot.  

 

Acciari’s offensive upside is limited, but he did have 10 goals in 2017-18. He was a key player for the Bruins in the past two Stanley Cup playoffs and chipped in two goals in this year’s playoff run that came within a game of a championship. Acciari would help on Washington’s penalty kill, too. In 111:52 he was only on the ice for 11 power-play goals against. Only two Boston forwards were on the ice more short-handed.  

 

The case for Marcus Kruger

 

A different skill set here for the smaller Kruger (6-foot, 186 pounds). Don’t expect even double-digit goals from him, either. But Kruger will likely cost less than $1 million and can be a valuable penalty killer, where Washington needs help. That’s huge for a team that is now dealing with an $81.5 million salary cap, which is $1.5 million less than expected. Add in the overage bonus for defenseman Brooks Orpik from last season and you’re in trouble at just over $80 million.   

 

Kruger played seven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and one disappointing one with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kruger has plenty of Stanley Cup experience, too, playing for Chicago’s 2013 and 2015 Cup winners. He has 87 postseason games and a triple-overtime game-winner in the Western Conference Final to his name in 2015 in Game 2 of that series against Anaheim. 

 

A defensive specialist, only two Blackhawks forwards played more short-handed minutes than Kruger (132:46) last season. There is risk here. Kruger was traded to Carolina in 2017-18, but was placed on waivers after 48 games and spent the rest of the season in the AHL before being traded to Arizona and then back to Chicago. But part of that stemmed from how much he was making on a $3.08 million cap hit. At a bargain-basement price, Kruger is more palatable. 

 

Who’s your pick? Vote here.

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Ted Leonsis reflects on Capitals' induction to D.C. Sports Hall of Fame

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NBC Sports Washington

Ted Leonsis reflects on Capitals' induction to D.C. Sports Hall of Fame

Click "play" in the embedded podcast to listen to the Capitals Talk Podcast interview with Ted Leonsis and click here to subscribe to the podcast.

Just as the party seems to be ending, the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are finding new ways to celebrate.

Sunday at Nationals Park, the Caps were honored with the "team of distinction" award in the D.C. sports hall of fame, the first-ever award of its kind.

“I think it just shows how this team connected with the fans and as many people have noted, this is one of the most divided cities in the world," Caps majority owner and president of Monumental Sports, Ted Leonsis said to Rob Carlin on the Capitals Talk podcast. "People can’t agree on anything, but they agreed on how much they loved, and how much fun they had and how proud they were that we won the Stanley Cup."

Founded in 1980, the D.C. sports hall of fame honors athletes, sports journalists and executives each year for excellence in D.C. sports. 2019 was the first time an entire team was formally recognized, fitting for the first-ever Stanley Cup championship in D.C.

"It [the honor] is a good capstone on that run," Leonsis said.

Listen to the full episode linked below.

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