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Oates delivers perfect Hall of Fame speech


Oates delivers perfect Hall of Fame speech

Capitals coach Adam Oates was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night in Toronto and delivered this 5-minute, 5-second speech flawlessley and without the aid of index cards. Below is a transcript of his speech.

"Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you Bill [Day], Jim Gregory, Pat Quinn and all the member of the selection committee who have voted me this huge, huge honor.

As most people know last June marked a very special day for me. I got a call from George McPhee telling me I was going to be the head coach of the Washington Capitals and 15 minutes later I got a call telling me I was going to be in the Hall of Fame. As you can imagine it was a pretty emotional day. Since that day I’ve spent a lot of time doing what almost everybody I’m sure who’s been inducted has done. You reflect on your career. I spent a lot of time thinking about the people I played with, my memories of the game and the people that helped me get there. And today is the day of all days that I should say thank you.

Growing up in Toronto I moved north when I was 16 and I played hockey in Weston with a man named Mike Renzetti, who coached me, drove me and was like a big brother to me. My junior coach, Ken Gibb, who when I said I wanted to get a scholarship did everything in his power to try and help me. My college coach, Mike Addesa, who recruited me, appealed my case to get my amateur status back, and taught me so much about the game And Paul Vincent, a skating coach who took me into his home for two years, no questions asked, to help me work on my game. To them I want to say thank you. I want to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you helped me.         

I can’t think of any better honor than being grouped with some of the people you think are special in the game, that you try to raise your game to play against every single night, whether it’s a Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux. Or going into Colorado trying to beat the Avalanche and trying to play as good as Joe Sakic. Or going into Toronto, my hometown, and trying to beat the Leafs and try to play as good as Mats Sundin. Or in Vancouver. How are we going to win? How are we going to shut down the Russian Rocket? Gentleman, I’d like to say congratulations to a huge honor which I sincerely think you deserve.

In life you have relationships that don’t always last but you make a connection. Hockey is no different. Whether it’s coaches like Brian Sutter, Tom McVie, Tim Army, Mike Babcock. Or players, Mike O’Connell, Doug Halward, Rick Zombo, Gino Cavallini, Kelly Chase, Sergio Momesso, Rick Tocchet, Don Sweeney, Olie Kolzig, Calle Johansson, Petr Sykora, Paul Kariya. To them and many others I want to say thank you. I think we connected and you meant so much to me and my career

I also had the privilege of playing with some special players. I was in Detroit when a young Steve Yzerman was named captain and watched him turn into the superstar he became. I got traded to St. Louis and played with Scott Stevens, who was a fantastic player and went on to become the rock of the New Jersey Devils. And I got to play with Brett Hull. Hully, I know you know how I feel about you. 72, 86, 50 in 50 was an incredible time.  You put me on the map. It was so, so special. My feelings for you I’ve expressed so many times, are absolutely fantastic. I can’t believe it was only thre years cause it felt like forever.

I got traded to Boston and I got to play with Cam Neely and Ray Bourque. Cam, 50 goal sin 42 games had to be one of the best seasons of all time. I’m one of the few people that know what you had to do every night just to be able to play. It was an absolute privilege. I had the best seat. I wish it could have been longer. And Ray, six of the best years of my life, my man, my friend, my teammate. I got to watch you work every day. I worked with you. You challenged me. You made me better. You made me better as a player. You were so good. Thank you to those guys for all the memories I’m going to carry with me my whole life.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my friends and family. My wife, Donna, [long emotional pause] who I love very much. We met near the end of my career. I wish we could have met a little sooner. You could have seen me when I was a little bit better player. But I’m happy that you’re here today to experience this and see what we’re all about here in hockey. And thank you for supporting me in the next challenge of my life, coaching. My sisters Laurel and Michelle and all my friends. You all had to watch so many games and support me and deal with my moods the next day. The best way I can say thank you to you and honor you is to remind you that I hope you know that every single one of those games a part of me was playing for you.

Mom and Dad, I donlt know how you took me to all those games. You supported me, encouraged me, helped me through the tough times and you gave me the chance to live my dream. I know it’s not the easiest thing for our family but I love you very much. Thank you. I’d never be here without you. Thank you."

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Capitals hint at their plans for Shane Gersich next season with new contract


Capitals hint at their plans for Shane Gersich next season with new contract

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan began tackling the items on his very long to-do list with the signing of prospect forward Shane Gersich. The team announced Monday that Gersich was re-signed to a one-year, two-way contract that carries a cap hit of $700,000.

Gersich will remain a restricted free agent at the end of the deal but will still be one year away from becoming arbitration eligible.

Gersich, who will turn 23 in July, just finished his first full professional season with the Hershey Bears, recording eight goals and 16 assists in 66 games.

“I learned a ton,” Gersich told NBC Sports Washington about his first AHL season. “I think our staff here is unbelievable. They've taught me so much, whether it's [showing] me video or doing skills or whatever. Can't say enough good things about them. And just my overall game, playing 200 feet and being aware of little details in the game. I think my game's grown a ton.”

Gersich’s original contract was for two seasons, but the first year was burned at the end of the 2017-18 season when he signed out of college at the end of the season and joined the Caps’ roster.

That transition from Stanley Cup champion to AHL the following season was a tough one for Gersich initially.

“Obviously, you were making your NHL debut and stuff like that, then it's kind of back to work and square one,” Gersich said. “For me, I know [I'm] definitely not the kid that's going to shy away from working or anything like that. So obviously, you've got to earn everything you get, and then that's how it is at every level.”

The speedy forward played in five games for Washington, three in the regular season and two in the playoffs during the Stanley Cup run. His speed was evident and has led many fans to wonder if the future is now for the young forward. His first year in Hershey showed, however, he still has a lot to learn before he reaches the NHL.

Gersich is still very much learning the game at the professional level. There was a little too much reaction in his game as opposed to action, which mitigated his speed. That is something he knows he needs to refine.

“I think just always being aware out there,” he said when talking about aspects of his game he wants to improve on. “Keeping my head on a swivel and making little plays. Just using my strengths too, I think. I've got to realize that I can use my speed out there a lot.”

The Caps will have a few roster spots open next season and not much money under the cap to fill those spots. Using young prospects is always an intriguing option. Gersich’s new contract, however, seems to indicate the Caps anticipate him spending the season in the AHL.

Gersich’s new contract carries an NHL salary of $700,000, which is actually lower than his first contract with a $925,000 salary. His minor-league salary, however, went up from $70,000 to $115,000. It may look like Gerisch is getting a pay cut based on the NHL numbers, but he actually is getting a raise because, barring a dazzling training camp, he will be spending most if not all of next season in Hershey. And if he does surprise, well now he has a lower NHL cap hit which is very important for a Washington team that will likely be very close to the salary cap.

While the implications of the contract seem clear, Gersich is excited for the opportunity to show he belongs in the NHL at training camp in the fall.

“Obviously, I want to play in the NHL,” he said. “It's been my goal my whole life, and that's the reason I left North Dakota. I think I'm ready for it, but you've got to wait and see until the time comes.”

The Caps also announced Monday the re-signing of forward Brian Pinho to a one-year, two-way contract. His contract carries a $700,000 NHL salary and a $100,000 AHL salary.



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In an offseason full of questions, Jonas Siegenthaler isn’t one of them


In an offseason full of questions, Jonas Siegenthaler isn’t one of them

The Capitals will have a lot of roster spots open and not much money to fill them with this offseason. Adding a young, cheap defensive prospect to the NHL roster will certainly help and that appears to be the plan for Jonas Siegenthaler.

Siegenthaler’s first NHL season began with him in the AHL, but it finished with him playing on the top defensive pairing of the defending Stanley Cup champions in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The season did not get off to a great start for Siegenthaler as he became a cap casualty despite a strong training camp. Heading into the start of the NHL season, he looked poised to make the Caps roster.

“I came to camp here with the mindset to make the team and come to camp in good shape and everything,” Siegenthaler said at the team’s breakdown day.

The suspension to Tom Wilson and subsequent acquisition of Dmitrij Jaskin off waivers forced Washington to shuffle money to get under the salary cap. Siegenthaler, who was waiver exempt, was sent to the Hershey Bears as a result.

Siegenthaler would have to wait until Nov. 9 to finally make his NHL debut. He would go on to play 26 games his rookie season.

“I think a guy like Siegenthaler came up and played really well,” Lars Eller said.

““I tried to play my best game,” Siegenthaler said. “Of course it wasn’t always easy but I think like I did my best and tried to help the team.”

With a deep blue line, Siegenthaler was sent back to Hershey in February, but was recalled late in the season after Michal Kempny suffered a season-ending injury. The call-up, however, was just to have an extra body. As Todd Reirden experimented with the defensive pairs heading into the playoffs, it did not appear he viewed the rookie defenseman as a real option for the playoffs. Despite all the shuffling, Siegenthaler did not get into the lineup until the season finale after Washington had already wrapped up the division crown.

The Caps struggled in the first round against the Carolina Hurricanes, however, prompting changes to the lineup. The defense still struggled with the constant in-game adjustments and a change was clearly needed. Siegenthaler got into the lineup for Game 4. By Game 5, he was playing in Kempny’s spot on the top pair alongside John Carlson.

“He really just seemed very poised,” Eller said. “There wasn't any panic in his game. It's hard to be thrown into a series like that where the stakes are high and I thought he did that really well.”

Still just 22 years old and with a contract that remains waiver exempt for another year, Siegenthaler could enter the 2019-20 season in a position to again have to compete just to make the NHL roster. The possible retirement of Brooks Orpik and speculation over whether Matt Niskanen could be traded, however, leaves the team with spots open on the blue line.

The fact that Siegenthaler was able to go from the AHL to the top pair of the Caps during the playoffs reflects his growth as a player over the course of the year. To expect him to come into next season in a top-pair role would be unfair. Even a top-four role seems unlikely with Kempny likely returning and Nick Jensen taking Niskanen’s spot if he does in fact get traded.

But if the coaches trusted Siegenthaler as a rookie when it mattered most and with him still on an entry-level deal at a time when the team will need to pinch every penny, Siegenthaler will almost certainly be in Washington and not in Hershey for the 2019-20 campaign.

“Next season’s going to be huge,” he said. “I’ll do my best in the summer to keep myself in shape, in even better shape. My goal is to be here a long time and for rest of my career and yeah, just got to work for it.”