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Trading stars, learning lessons

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Trading stars, learning lessons

For those Capitals fans contemplating the thought of trading Alex Ovechkin this summer, it might be a good idea to call your closest friend or relative living in Philadelphia.

Flyers fans didnt know whether to cheer or boo Tuesday night when they watched the former cornerstones of their franchise, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, team up for one of the Kings four goals in a 4-0 win over the Devils that leaves Los Angeles one win away from celebrating its first Stanley Cup.

If that wasnt enough, former Flyers Simon Gagne and Justin Williams, former head coach John Stevens and former Director of Player Personnel Ron Hextall are also one win away from kissing the Stanley Cup.

That would be the equivalent of Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble, Sergei Gonchar, Bruce Boudreau and Olie Kolzig teaming up in San Jose to win the Cup next June.

If that wouldnt be a kick in the gut, what would?

In their six years together in Philadelphia, Richards and Carter helped transform the Flyers from the worst team in the NHL in 2006-07 to a Stanley Cup finalist in 2010. They were to the Flyers what Ovechkin and Semin have been to the Capitals since joining forces in 2006-07 Richards the hard-hitting captain, Carter the sleek, goal scorer.

But when Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren decided to cut ties with Richards and Carter on June 24 trading Richards to the Kings for Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds and Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek and a first-round draft pick Sean Couturier he knew the risk could be greater than the reward.

He didnt know the Kings would turn around and make a trade for Carter, but he knew both players had the potential to turn a team into a Stanley Cup champion.

George McPhee could say the same about Ovechkin and Semin.

Semin already has one foot out the door. Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, Semin has already told reporters he will test the waters of free agency and if a team is willing to throw 4 million or 5 million at him per season, hell fly.

But what about Ovechkin? After seven years in D.C., is McPhee bold enough to entertain offers for the 26-year-old superstar? Are the Capitals prepared to roll the same dice the Flyers rolled last year?

Should they even consider it?

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Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

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USA TODAY Sports

Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

Caps Coach Barry Trotz doesn’t have a contract beyond the Stanley Cup Final, and any potential talks about an extension will wait until the trophy is awarded, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday.

“No,” MacLellan said, asked if a decision on Trotz’s future had been made. “We’re going to address everything after the playoffs are over.”

Trotz’s four-year contract expires at season’s end.

It’s rare for a head coach to enter a season while in the final year of his deal. But that’s how the Caps decided to handle Trotz’s situation last offseason after another strong regular season performance ended with yet another second round playoff exit at the hands of the Penguins.

It was a suboptimal situation for Trotz, a 55-year-old who ranks fifth all-time in regular season victories but, until this year, had never led any team beyond the conference semifinals.

Despite his lame duck status, all Trotz did was produce his best coaching performance to date. 

Consider:

  • While visiting his son in Russia last summer, Trotz visited Alex Ovechkin in Moscow to discuss the changes he’d like to see the Caps’ captain make to his training and his game.
  • When the Caps reconvened for training camp in September, it was clear there were still some hurt feelings in the locker room. So Trotz and his assistants backed off, allowing some necessary healing to occur.
  • When the team suffered back-to-back blowout losses in Nashville and Colorado back in November, Trotz initiated a tell-it-like-it-is team meeting that many players have pointed to as the turning point of the regular season, which ended with the team’s third straight Metropolitan title.
  • Trotz also got his highly-skilled lineup to buy into a more structured, detailed style of play late in the campaign, a transformation that prompted MacLellan to call this playoff run the most defensively responsible of Trotz’s tenure.
  • In each of the two previous conference semifinals, Washington was defeated by Pittsburgh and, as a result, the Penguins had become a physical and a mental hurdle for the Caps. Earlier this month, Trotz helped direct Ovechkin and Co. past the two-time Cup champions.

Although MacLellan wouldn’t say much about Trotz’s contract, he did say that he’s noticed a big change in Trotz’s day-to-day approach to his job, a change possibly prompted by the coach’s free agent status.

“I think his demeanor has changed a little bit,” MacLellan said. “He seems a little lighter, a little looser, a little less pressure. Maybe a little more freedom about how he goes about things. He’s more relaxed, I guess would be the way to describe him.”

MacLellan also acknowledged the job Trotz’s has done this season, beginning with his delicate handling of the dressing room to start the year.

“I think he’s done a good job managing it,” MacLellan said. “To come in this year with so many questions—from my point of view, the lineup questions weren’t that big of a deal—but just the emotional state of our coming into to start the year [and] how to handle that. I think he’s done an outstanding job.”

Indeed, Trotz’s situation remains unclear on the eve of the Final. But we do know this much: He’s having one of the best contract years in NHL coaching history.

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Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

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FB/The Town of Lovettsville

Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

Welcome to Capitalsville, Va., population: #ALLCAPS

Hoping to become the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup headquarters, the small Northern Virginia town of Lovettsville has renamed itself to Capitalsville, Va.

Caps superfan and Mayor of Lovettsville, Bob Zoldos, had a lightbulb moment while watching Game 7 in a local bar and restaurant, Velocity Wings. Overcome with emotion from the win, he decided to take his idea to the town council meeting Thursday and Capitalsville was born after a unanimous vote to "unleash the fury."

This is not the first time name changes have occurred ahead of a big game. Ahead of the Caps' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Blue Jacket Brewery located in downtown D.C. changed its Twitter handle to "Grujacket Brewery" in support of goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

The name change from Lovettsville to Capitalsville is temporary, with the plan to keep the new name through the end of the Stanley Cup Final. However, Zoldos hopes the sign brings in other Caps superfans from across the DMV to take in a piece of history 20 years in the making. 

Here's to hoping Capitalsville brings the city some luck heading into Game 1 on Memorial Day.

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