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Russia's king has plenty to roar about


Russia's king has plenty to roar about

Maybe it was the pent-up frustration of having two record-breaking goals taken away from him from coach’s challenges.

Or maybe it was the realization that he had reached the summit as the greatest Russian-born goal scorer in NHL history.

Whatever the reason, Alex Ovechkin let out a roar so loud after scoring the 484th goal of his NHL career that folks in his native Moscow could have heard him, if not for the deafening cheers from the crowd inside Verizon Center.

“Obviously, it was loud,” Ovechkin said following the Capitals’ bittersweet 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars Thursday night. “They cheer for me since Day One. It was a great moment.”

Ovechkin’s shining moment came 7:01 into the third period when he hammered home a backhand pass from Nicklas Backstrom past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, tying the score at 2-2 and in the process eclipsing the mark set by Sergei Fedorov back in 2008 – on an assist by Backstrom.

“It’s been great,” said Backstrom, who has assisted on 175 of Ovechkin’s 386 goals since they became teammates in 2007-08. “He’s had such a big impact on the whole city of Washington and the team since he’s been here. It’s just amazing how he’s taken the whole team on his shoulders.”

Ovechkin tied Fedorov’s mark on Nov. 7 but went the next four games without a goal, although one was overturned on a goalie interference on teammate Justin Williams and another on an offsides by Williams, who was not on the ice for Thursday night’s historic goal.

“Sooner or later I knew it was gonna come,” Ovechkin said. “Of course you get frustrated when you have chances. In the second I hit the post and Osh (T.J. Oshie) gave me a good chance (that sailed wide). But I think it was a good goal for us. It got us back in the game but I think we deserved today at least a point.”

RELATED Ovechkin nets 484th goal, becoming Russian king of NHL

While the crowd gave Ovechkin a standing ovation, his father, Mikhail, pulled out his cell phone for a video, while his mother Tatyana, smiled in approval. His brother and fiancé were also in the crowd and Fedorov congratulated him in a pre-taped video played on the scoreboard.

“It was a special moment for me,” he said. “Without my teammates I would never accomplish that. It was a good moment but unfortunate we lost the game.”

Like almost everyone else in the building, Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he got caught up in the moment.

“Everybody was excited. You saw me jump about four feet,” Trotz said. “Actually, it was about four inches. It was pretty exciting for everybody because we knew it was part of history. You could tell he was gripping it pretty good (before the goal).

“I thought Ovi played his best game probably in the last five. I sort of call it beast mode where he’s playing hard and he’s just an absolute beast to handle. He was going to score today. You know. It was only fitting it was an assist from Backy.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff, who has spent the past 10 seasons game-planning against Ovechkin, also had high praise for Russia’s goal king, who finished with 11 shot attempts (four on goal, four blocked, three misses) and five hits.

“We sent our most physical forward after him and he mowed him over tonight,” Ruff said. “I have a lot of admiration for the way he plays. He plays the game hard.

“I snuck a look at a few of his goals (on the overhead scoreboard) and there’s probably only one guy who can score the goals he scores. He’s got probably the best shot from that offside. I don’t think anybody has scored as many goals as he has from over there.

“He can be dynamic on the rush, too. He’s the complete package and I’m glad we only play him one more time this year.”

While the night belonged to Ovechkin, Backstrom made it clear there are bigger milestones the Caps are chasing this season.

“It’s been fun so far but we still haven’t accomplished anything yet,”

Backstrom said. “Obviously, individual goals. But we haven’t accomplished the thing we want yet.”

If that happens sometime in late June, Ovechkin’s roar may be heard worldwide.

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In a stunner, Barry Trotz steps down two weeks after leading the Capitals to the Stanley Cup


In a stunner, Barry Trotz steps down two weeks after leading the Capitals to the Stanley Cup

Less than two weeks after Barry Trotz helped deliver the first Stanley Cup in Caps’ history, the veteran head coach has chosen to resign in a decision that stunned the hockey world Monday afternoon.

Under the terms of the four-year contract Trotz signed in 2014, winning the Cup at any point during the duration of the deal triggered a two-year extension. But with coaches’ contracts having exploded in value in recent years, Trotz’s representatives sought to negotiate a new extension for a bigger salary and a longer term.

The sides attempted to hammer out an agreement in recent days that would appease both the team and the coach but failed, leading to Trotz’s decision to step down.

Shortly after the team announced that Trotz would resign, the coach released the following statement via his agent, Gil Scott:

"After careful consideration and consultation with my family, I am officially announcing my resignation as Head Coach of the Washington Capitals. When I came to Washington four years ago we had one goal in mind and that was to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital.

“We had an incredible run this season culminating with our players and staff achieving our goal and sharing the excitement with our fans.  I would like to thank Mr. Leonsis, Dick Patrick and Brian MacLellan for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great organization.  I would also like to thank our players and staff who worked tirelessly every day to achieve our success.”

The Caps released a statement of their own, expressing disappointment in Trotz’s decision to talk away while also thanking him for his contributions.

“Barry Trotz informed the organization today of his decision to resign as head coach of the Washington Capitals,” the statement read. “We are obviously disappointed by Barry’s decision, but would like to thank Barry for all his efforts the past four years and for helping bring the Stanley Cup to Washington. Barry is a man of high character and integrity and we are grateful for his leadership and for all that he has done for our franchise.”

Monday’s announcement was as much of a surprise as the Caps’ unexpected breakthrough in the playoffs, particularly given Trotz’s recent public comments. As recently as last week, in fact, he indicated that he was interested in staying.

The team’s plans to fill its suddenly vacant head coaching position were not immediately known, though its possible associate head coach Todd Reirden will receive serious consideration.

Trotz’s next move is also unclear. He’s technically under contract because of the two-year extension triggered earlier this month, but the Caps will grant permission to other teams to talk to him as though he’s a free agent.

GM Brian MacLellan will speak to reporters at 6 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.


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Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week


Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

The Stanley Cup champion Caps will open their seven-game exhibition schedule on Sept. 16 season against the Bruins at TD Garden, the team announced.  

Washington will face Boston, Carolina and St. Louis twice apiece—once on the road, once at home—and the 

Canadiens one time. The game against the Habs will be played at Videotron Arena in Quebec City.

NBC Sports Washington’s preseason broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the preseason entire slate:

Date                    Opponent           Location                      Time
Sun., Sept. 16      at Boston          TD Garden                  1 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 18    vs. Boston         Capital One Arena     7 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 20  at Montreal      Quebec City, Que.      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21        at Carolina        PNC Arena                  7:30 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 25    at St. Louis        Enterprise Center      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28        vs. Carolina       Capital One Arena    7 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 30      vs. St. Louis      Capital One Arena     3 p.m.

Monday's announcement kicked off a busy week for the Caps.

On Wednesday, Alex Ovechkin will pick up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Nicklas Backstrom will also be on hand for media interviews; key members of the Cup-winning team are typically in attendance.

On Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Washington will make selections in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th rounds of the 2018 Entry Draft at American Airlines Center. (Their fifth-round pick was dealt to Minnesota in the Tyler Graovac deal.)

Next Monday, many of the organization’s prospects, including this year’s picks, will report to Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the start of development camp. The schedule and roster will be announced this week.