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Halpern 'disappointed' by cattle reference

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Halpern 'disappointed' by cattle reference

Jim Devellano is a hockey legend.

The guy has seven Stanley Cup rings three with the Islanders and four with the Red Wings and three Calder Cup rings, all with the Adirondack Red Wings.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame two years ago and even has an American League Championship ring with the Detroit Red Wings.

But that didnt prevent the 69-year-old senior vice president of the Red Wings from stepping in a pile of cow dung that reportedly cost the Red Wings a 250,000 fine.

In a wide-ranging interview with Island Sports News, Devellano accused the Flyers of breaking an unwritten rule by signing Nashvilles Shea Weber to a 14-year, 110 million offer sheet.

But when he compared NHL players to cattle, well, that got him in hot water with the NHL.

Its very complicated and way too much for the average Joe to understand, Devellano said in the interview. But having said that, I will tell you this: The owners can basically be viewed as the Ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the Ranch and allow the players to eat there. Thats the way its always been and thats the way it will be forever. And the owners simply arent going to let a union push them around. Its not going to happen.

We caught up with former Capitals captain and current New York Rangers center Jeff
Halpern Monday and asked him to respond to Devellanos comments.

I think its disappointing when a former player makes comments like that, Halpern said. I think everyones entitled to their own opinion. People are angry all over the board, from fans to players to management and owners. Hes got the right to speak his mind.

If nothing else, by fining the Red Wings the NHL sent a clear message to other NHL executives: Leave the talking to us.

The Detroit Red Wings organization and the League agree that thecomments made by Mr. Devellano are neither appropriate, nor authorized, norpermissible under the Leagues
By-Laws,NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. Such comments are neither constructive nor helpful to thenegotiations.

Those NHL bylaws state that only Daly and commissioner Gary Bettman are permitted to speak to the public on labor matters involving the expired Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owner.

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How a team meeting can help stop Caps’ slide

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USA TODAY SPORTS

How a team meeting can help stop Caps’ slide

ARLINGTON — The Capitals met as a group, the doors shut to the outside world. Not even the coaches were invited after an embarrassing 8-5 loss in Chicago on Sunday. 

You could call it a “meeting” as several players did. “A chat” was the word used by defenseman Matt Niskanen. On Monday the coaches were back for more talk and more video. Owners of the NHL’s longest current losing streak at five games, everyone has the same goal: How to get back on track as fast as possible.

“At the end of the day we’re pretty close, we’re a team. This group isn’t guys yelling,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. “We’re close, we know how we need to play. We just needed to address it, we needed to talk it out a little bit, get on the same page. And then the same sort of thing with the coaching staff and the players. Go over some stuff, get on the same page, refocus, reshuffle the deck a little bit and get back at it.” 

Maybe they didn’t blister the paint off the walls in the locker room at United Center on Sunday, but these aren’t exactly genteel get-togethers, either. Video doesn’t lie and Washington hasn’t been near good enough during an 0-4-1 stretch that has it technically in third place in the Metropolitan Division and just one point ahead of fourth. That’s not a spot the defending Stanley Cup champs expect to be. 

Immediate comparison will be made to the infamous blistering former coach Barry Trotz gave his players after back-to-back blowout losses in games at Nashville and Colorado left them at 10-9-1 just 20 games into the 2017-18 season.

The Capitals returned home and responded by winning 10 of their next 13 games. But these things are rarely linear. Despite spending all of January in first place in the Metro last year, by March players and coaches were right back in the meeting room. That time it was to overhaul its defensive system after the team sleepwalked through a 9-9-4 stretch from Jan. 18 to March 8. 

“In that discussion last year, there was some major changes being made and that stuff is already in place,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “Now it's just about players doing their job, executing their responsibilities within that system and being better.”

Coaches can hold players accountable by reducing roles, changing lines or scratching them entirely. Reirden has done all of that, including putting center Evgeny Kuznetsov on the third line in Sunday’s loss. In dire circumstances, coaches can go nuclear as Trotz memorably did last season. That can get a team’s attention immediately - provided the tactic is not used too often. 

But it’s the players themselves who ultimately demand the most from each other when things go wrong. Washington has a veteran locker room. These players have won a Stanley Cup together. No one was willing to speak on the record about what was said in the players’ meeting or who did most of the talking. But it’s not hard to figure out, either.

Eight players (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller, Braden Holtby, Matt Niskanen) have nine years or more of NHL experience. Wilson, Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov have all played at least six years each for Washington. It’s an experienced roster that has been together, won together, lost together and knows its own strengths and weaknesses.    

“I think we’re a pretty loose group. That’s our nature. It works for us,” Niskanen said. “I don’t think we can get too uptight, but I think we’ll have a real determined, focused effort here the next couple nights. The guys recognize the situation that we’re in, accept it, take responsibility for it and work to try to change it.”

That rebound will have to come on back-to-back games with San Jose at home tonight (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) and on Tuesday at Toronto. Both of those teams have Stanley Cup hopes and both are struggling, too. 

The Sharks (28-16-7, 63 points) have lost three games in a row, but remain in second place in the Pacific Division. The Maple Leafs (29-17-2, 60 points) have lost two in a row and seven of 10. They are in second place in the Atlantic Division. 

These are all teams who could use the upcoming All-Star break and bye week to recharge. Washington will not practice again as a full group until 2 p.m. on Jan. 31. Holtby and Carlson will have a shorter rest period because they are going to San Jose on Thursday for NHL All-Star weekend, but even they will get a few days off to recharge. 

That escape from the mental anguish of a losing streak can help. But multiple Caps players said Monday that without at least one win it’s almost worthless. They’ll just be sitting on a beach thinking about what’s gone wrong and focusing on how to fix it. They need a win – and the lessons of last season can provide a blueprint.  

"The main thing is we've got to remember, be honest with ourselves for the last two years or so, that things haven't come easy,” Holtby said. “That's something that can be lost in the fact of winning. Because things weren't easy last year. We had to grind our way through to get where we were, and that's going to be what we have to do this year.”

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Capitals vs. Sharks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Sharks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

It's shaping up to be the Washington Capitals' most important game of the season.

Having lost eight of their last 11 and five straight games for the first time since October-November 2014, the Caps host the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night desperate for a win in their first matchup of the season.

The Sharks (28-16-7) are on a three-game losing streak themselves, losing to the Florida Panthers 6-2 Monday night. Despite their slump, the Sharks rank third in the NHL in scoring this season with 178 goals. 

Ahead of what you could consider a must-win for both teams, here's everything you need to know. 

CAPITALS vs. SHARKS HOW TO WATCH

What: San Jose Sharks at Washington Capitals, 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Sharks at Capitals game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals take on the Sharks on the new MyTeams by NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. SHARKS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Sharks
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live
10:30 PM: D.C. Sports Live

CAPITALS vs. SHARKS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: 
Sharks: D Erik Karlsson (undisclosed injury)

CAPITALS vs. SHARKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Capitals (8 goals, 30 assist, 38 points): Kuznetsov was demoted to the third line ahead of Sunday's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in an effort to spark the slumping offense. Kuzy only has one five-on-five goal this season, and has only one goal and one assist in the last five games. Will Tuesday's matchup bring an end to that trend for the centre? 

Joe Pavelski, C, Sharks (26 goals, 15 assist, 41 points): The Sharks' Captain leads the league's third-highest scoring team with 26 goals this season. However, Pavelski hasn't scored since Jan. 12 against the Ottawa Senators. Expect the centre to be on a mission.

CAPITALS vs. SHARKS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 41 
All-Time Series Record: Sharks lead 27-11-1
Last Meeting: Caps win 2-0 (3/10/18)
Last 10: Sharks lead 6-4

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