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Clark: 'Everything Feels Good, Strong'

As promised, I've got an update on Chris Clark:

Clark said he's encouraged about being ready for the start of training camp after skating for the past month with fellow NHLer Craig Conroy and some local college players near his home in Upstate New York. In fact, he said, it's the best he's felt since suffering the serious groin muscle injury that forced him to miss almost all of last season.

"The last couple of weeks I've been skating pretty hard," Clark said. "I've been doing everything, other than contact and real game situations. I've been skating, passing and shooting."

That's big. Because if you remember, the Caps captain didn't sound nearly as confident back in June.

"It feels good," Clark added. "I've had zero setbacks this time. Everything has been going forward as planned. I'm a lot more optimistic that I had been."

Clark said he plans to ramp up the intensity and frequency of his training sessions after making a sixth and final visit to Rick Celebrini, a Vancouver-based physiotherapist who helped former Capitals center Brian Sutherby overcome a similar injury a few years ago, later this week.

"He's helped me with some tendencies that he picked up that made me vulnerable to groin injuries," Clark said of Celebrini. "It's simple stuff like just standing up straight and making sure my left foot doesn't go out, to bring my feet together, straight."

If there's been a positive side effect to being out for so long, Clark added, it's that he's had time to allow a few smaller injuries (like a sore wrist and back) to heal.

"Maybe it adds another year onto my career," he said. "It's a year less of getting banged up. So maybe it's going to help in the long run."

A lot can happen over the next five weeks, particularly with a tricky injury like this one. But from the sounds of it, Clark should be ready to go. I'll check in with him at least one more time before he returns to Washington later this month.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 4, 2008; 2:25 PM ET
 
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Comments

Thats too bad. His caps space could have been useful. That sounds horrible though, I wish him the best.

Posted by: Caps 423 | August 4, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

That's good news, really good news, but I won't believe he's ready till I see him play in 10+ games in a row.

Posted by: Tyler | August 4, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for the Clark's over rated people.

Posted by: JSchon | August 4, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Too bad? Looks to me like he may be playing this coming season.

I'm confused about the whole adding years to his career. I mean, he pretty much missed an entire season this past season. So, he still needs to make that one up before he starts talking about adding more seasons. I'm glad that he is more optimistic this time around. His injury is not a fun one. I hope he is able to give 110% like normal.

Posted by: 828 | August 4, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Grats to him on his progress. It'll be good to finally see the C skating again.

Posted by: Tim | August 4, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, have there been any talks about who is going to wear the "C"? Or, has it pretty much been quiet because Clark is the captain and will remain the captain no matter what.

Posted by: 828 | August 4, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

His cap space would have been useful? I think I'd rather have Clark than any of the players who would likely have been filling that cap space if he weren't ready.

Posted by: norske | August 4, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Man, where did this Clark-hate come from. Last season he was the second-coming of Dale Hunter. Now people are sad because we could have his cap space. If the sentiment here is we'd rather not have him at all, if he can't play 82+ games next season is ridiculous. This guy is the heart of the Caps. We need him back more than a season of a healthy Nylander.

Posted by: Mark Tucker | August 4, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

@Mark,

"We need him back more than a season of a healthy Nylander"

I disagree to that. A healthy Nyls gives us 3 centers that can run scoring lines & even better power play unit(s). I'm glad Clark is back, he adds a lot of character, but imho Nyls is the more important piece.

Posted by: Steve R | August 4, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Given the salary cap implications (which is a good thing, I would like to have Clark back) they may be left to move Kozlov's contract before the start of the season. I would have no problem with this. That Bradley contract stings more and more every day.

Posted by: Nomad | August 4, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Steve R,

Clark gives you PP and PK support. Nyls only gives you PP support. I personally would take Clark over Nyls, but that's just my opinion and I am not a huge Nylander supporter. Clark will fight for that final inch. He works harder than anyone. However, how will this injury affect his game - will he be timid and cautious or will he be the same ole Clark that we can all appreciated?

Posted by: 828 | August 4, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Works harder than anyone. I forgot we have the freak on our team... Clark works harder than anyone on the Caps accept for Ovechkin... I think that is why they work so well with one another.

Posted by: 828 | August 4, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Awesome. Now CC just stay healthy. Please don't over do it. We need you healthy for the long haul.

The CC hater's will leave as soon as the season starts and they realize what he brings to the table, A solid all around player.

If we have to 'cut' someone, my vote's with the worthless SOB Kozlov.

Posted by: Go Skins Go | August 4, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

828, I don't know. Aside from last year, Nyls's +/- was usually pretty good. I think that means bringing more to the table than just PP

Posted by: Steve R | August 4, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Oooh man. We made the playoffs last season DESPITE losing Clarkie.

He's such an asset and can be used anywhere. Bruce's ability to switch up the lines due to injuries or anything else is about to expand by leaps and bounds.

I just can't wait!

Posted by: Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) | August 4, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

828:
I agree that Clark works for it. That's how he's gotten so beat up. He is one of the few guys who is not afraid to get in front of the net - on either end of the ice.

Posted by: Boo! | August 4, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

One thing some overlook is the fact that nothing is guaranteed this season. No matter who is in the lineup and how much money a team spends, that doesnt spell Playoffs or stanley cup. Or even a performance beyond the 1st round.

Ill hold my excitement for mid season, this way I can see how the team is shaping up.
Remember, there are 29 other teams that have to play and everyone is in the NHL for a reason. Nobody is going to roll over just because OV and CC are on a team.

Defense and goaltending are the big issues. The D is still young and still not very defensive. The goalie has proven he is streaky and has not been completely reliable the last few years. He said he wanted to come to washington when in fact Washington was just about the only team in the market for a goalie and willing to pay for it, so of course he had a few million reasons to want to come to washington.

If it were any other team, he would say the same thing

Posted by: JonJon | August 4, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Now the RW's are as follows...

Clark
Kozlov
Laich
Fehr
Bradley
Bouchard
A.Gordon

Posted by: JSchon | August 4, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Wait.....

I blame Mark for this. We went from happy that Clark looks to be coming back, to Clark coming back means more than Nyls, to Nyls more important, no Clarkie, etc etc.

Thanks Mark, you wrecked the moment.

For the record, both coming back means very good things for the team. Better than just one coming back. Thou Nyls will have more of an impact...

Posted by: Steve R | August 4, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

With Clark back (this is a good thing), the salary cap situation starts to clear up. We need to trim 2.7M. Now the big piece of the puzzle is Pothier. If he's out, bring up Schultz (-2.5M, +760K). Bring Gordon down (-725K) to start the season.

Now we are only 250K off. Start Lepisto up (+700K or $8,540/game), and Alzner down (-1.67M or $20,430/game) for a savings of 11,900 / game. IF nobody gets injured (fat chance there) then Alzner can come up after 21 games. However, I would count on sooner rather then later for that number.

That or.. try to trade. However, everyone knows the situation of the CAPS, and trades will be offered for pennies on the dollar because of this.

-PS- funny post on puckdaddy blog sombreroguy. Tis true about the 80s

Posted by: fricknoutstandin | August 4, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Good news! If Clark can come back at full speed, he is a significant piece in the puzzle.

If the Caps are smart, they will hang on to Kozlov, though. If they let him go, they are a fragile groin away from being left without a nominal top-6 RW. And for his money, he's pretty good value.

To get under the cap, I think the plan has to be to dump some spare parts.. Gordon & Jurcina? That should do it, coupled with Pothier on LTIR.. Don't need a full roster -- can always call up somebody from Hershey..

Actually if it were up to me, I'd dump Brash or replace him with a minimum-salary fighter. I think an elite fighter is a luxury in the cap era, plus the whole intimidation factor is useless when it counts most -- in the playoffs.

Posted by: Vlad | August 4, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Just curious - where in "upstate New York" is his summer home? I don't need an address to stalk, just a town or even county name would be great.
Is he U.S. born? I forgot.

Posted by: on ice | August 4, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Bradley, Gordon, Poti could all bleed on the cap space alter as far as I am concerned before Kozlov and especially before Clark. I am enjoying a summer off, but at the same time I look forward to those tickets arriving in the mail soon.

Posted by: Bob | August 4, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Gordon isn't going down to start the season, nor should he. First of all, he wouldn't clear waivers - you send him down, you lose him. Second of all, and contrary to a seemingly popular opinion, Gordon is a key cog in the Caps machine.

With Alzner, they are likely going to leave sufficient room throughout the season for him to come up to the big squad on a whim - they are going to want enough cap space on day one to have him on the squad even if he is actually playing in Hershey. If they decide in mid-October that he's earned his shot (or if they need him as an injury replacement), they aren't going to want to have to wait another month and change for the ability to call him up.

Posted by: Nomad | August 4, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

@Nomad

Calling Gordon a "key" cog to the Caps success is a bit of stretch.

Posted by: JSchon | August 4, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know who doesn't have to clear waivers? I know backstrom and alzer can be sent down. What about schultz, fehr, flash, steckel, etc.?

Posted by: 68 | August 4, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say success, I said machine. But the way the team is run, he is pretty critically important. The penalty kill, in particular, leans heavily on Gordon and Steckel more than any other forwards. Whenever one of those two went down, the PK started to tank quite a bit. Didn't matter whether it was under Hanlon or Boudreau, the effect was similar.

Kind of like the PK leaning on Schultz (equally unjustly maligned much of the time), who was Boudreau's go-to defender on the PK (as evidenced by being the starting defender on every 5-on-3 for which he wasn't already winded).

If you're going to try to pass a forward to Hershey to start the year, the likeliest choices would probably be Brashear or Bradley, though Bradley's contract (unfortunately) makes that unlikely.

Posted by: Nomad | August 4, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I have a theory. I think the Caps are waiting to see what Mats Sundin decides to do before they try to get under the cap. There are several teams who want Sundin (Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, the Rangers). He can only play for one team. I can't imagine Sundin coming back and playing for a team who has no chance at the Cup (e.g. Vancouver). That being said and having lost both Naslund and Morrison to free agency, Vancouver will be desperate and scrambling to find a center to play between the Sedin twins. Enter the trade of Nylander. Being a fellow Swede it would be a good fit for Vancouver and we could get back a serviceable defenseman.

Peace

Posted by: Fan | August 4, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Ultimately, the bottom end players don't make much of a difference with the room that would need to be cleared. It needs to be a bigger dollar move to clear a good bit of space without having to replace it with nearly as much. Kozlov is the prime candidate, honestly.

Gordon, Steckel, Laing, Fleischmann, Erskine, Jurcina, and Lepisto don't make enough money for them to make any real impact by moving them. Alzner is a guy they are going to reserve top-end space for even if only as a precautionary measure.

The guys who make enough to be meaningful are split into three groups:

Not going anywhere:
Ovechkin, Semin, Nylander, Poti, Backstrom, Green, Morrisonn

Contracts too new:
Fedorov, Laich

Otherwise expendable:
Kozlov

Posted by: Nomad | August 4, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, Gordon was statisticly the 6th or 7th best defensive forward in the league last year. Wasn't he also top ten in faceoffs?

Posted by: Steve R | August 4, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Flash will be traded for whatever pick maybe a 3rd in the 2010 draft...and Erskine, Aucoin, Laing will all be waived down to Hershey even if someone claims them just to move the salary...I think Lepisto is still in Hershey and Alzner plays 82 games in DC

CONGRATS to CC...good to have you back, (just don't make it a one game appearance thing)

Posted by: mike b | August 4, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Aucoin sign a 2 way contract?

Posted by: Steve R | August 4, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

clark got hurt b/c the ice is poorly managed- like DC streets it's full of holes, breaks up when the weather changes, and has random spots where water flows unexpectedly.

"
I agree that Clark works for it. That's how he's gotten so beat up. He is one of the few guys who is not afraid to get in front of the net - on either end of the ice"

Posted by: jim* | August 4, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Definitely great news about Clark, his season seemed cursed ever since he took that bullet to the ear courtesy of Ovie.

I agree with Nomad that it's got to be a big dollar player that gets moved to make a difference, which is why I think Erskine and Schultz stay with the bigs while Alzner (big money) and Lepisto (less experience than John and Juice) stay down with the Bears, obviously Lepisto can quickly switch to replace one of them if they start off miserably and Alzner can come up after a few games or after we get more cap space.

Posted by: 8b4Ovie | August 4, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Tarik, we missed you around here! I am really happy to hear that Clark is doing better, I was really starting to doubt him for the start of the season. We will see what happens but this is the most positive I have heard from his end in months. Thank god he didn't rush back during the playoffs, sounds like it would have made things a lot worse!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Glad Clark is healthy, now trade him.

Posted by: Chief | August 4, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Kozlov would be tied for the 33rd highest cap number of all NHL RW's. 2.5 million for 50-60 points ain't that bad.

As others have noted, dumping any of Flash, Erskine, Gordon, etc doesn't do much to help because their cap numbers are so low.

Nylander has the no trade clause and I doubt he would waive it to get sent to Vancouver when he could be a part of a team many believe should be a top 3 seed in the east.

As for the Waivers, the rules are summarized here

http://nhlscap.com/waivers.htm
Backstrom, Alzner, Lepisto, Schultz can all be sent down. I'm not sure about Flash, and I think Steckle can not because he is already 26 and has 79 NHL games under his belt.

Flash is a question mark for me. It all depends on how old he was when he signed his first NHL contract.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | August 4, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

he says he healty, I hope so but I bet he won't make it past 10 games. his goose is cooked

Posted by: paul | August 4, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I know it's a long shot, but could we see a Nylander to Montreal deal go down? If Montreal looses out on Sundin, they'll have come up empty in a season where success is very important to them. Nylander might be a decent alternative as a veteran center who can put up pretty decent stats. I'm not sure who we could hope to get if this deal went down, but anything that would include Komisarek would make me happy. I know this is probably just another stupid suggestion, but does anyone think there could be a chance of this?

Posted by: Flyers Suck | August 4, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

jim:
Clark got a puck to the mouth and another to the ear because the ice is bad?!?

Posted by: Boo! | August 4, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Great news - thanks, Tarik.

Clark is the captain. I don't understand why people keep speculating on who will wear the "C."

And I second what norske posted.

Posted by: Jill | August 4, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey Shuler

hit me, im open

Oh wait, im a few years too late

Posted by: Tommmy | August 4, 2008 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I was wrong about Gordon, after looking at stats from last year he needs to stay. I don't see a reason to keep Poti in his play or his stats however and Bradley is not worth what he is being paid. Can anyone tell me why we should not try to move Poti? Not sure we could move Bradley.

Posted by: Bob | August 4, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

very good news

Clark is the exact type of player that would have helped us early in the playoffs when the kids were learning. I was scared after the news in June.

I know that Pothier's career is over - definitely did not want to lose Clark, too

Posted by: CBT | August 4, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

We'll have to wait for camp to sort this out, and see whether Alzner is ready to be in the NHL come October. If he is, and assuming Pothier is LITR and Clark is in fact healthy, best bet could be to waive Erskine and trade Flash, which, I believe, would put us under the cap (barely).


Posted by: bigonetimer | August 4, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

@Bob

Poti was the best defensive d-man we had last year. He was a rock all year long. He's the only veteran on defence. He's not going anywhere.

Posted by: Tyler | August 4, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

i hope the return of clark and nyls can offset the lack of experience on defense and the unknown at goalie. JT really happy here could = great season in goal. JT just happy to have a job could = a lot of ups and downs.
i still think the best bet to stay under the cap is with pothier on ltir, having alzner begin in hershey and using either lepisto or schultz as the other d man.
i can't see waiving or trading anybody until they get through camp - at the earliest. it would be nice to have a good (langway type) d-man but i don't see how they can afford one right now without dropping two or three players.
i also hope they choose to go with a full 23 man roster from the start. i see them (BB) needing the first 10 games to figure out the best line combos to use.
can't wait to get more detailed info on who will stay and who will go once camp opens.

Posted by: CaptKirk | August 4, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I thought that Poti was more of a pylon than a rock, but I guess anything that does not move is appropriate.

Posted by: Bob | August 4, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Nyls, Pothier, and Clark add up to about 10M a season. The Jan 13th Flyers game was the last time all three played.

Ok folks, this is where GMGM has to start thinking and managing like a Ken Holland or Brian Burke and understand that those three "players" were not factors in our 2008 run in. YES, 10M for nothing!

I whole heartedly applaud GMGM for the deadline trades and the ensuing success but, and yes but, he needs to take it to the next level in order for the Caps to reach that next level.

GMGM needs to make that major move NOW involving at least two if not all three said players or we will be pissing in the wind again during this season over his managing abilities, or inabilities. Seriously, if GMGM doesn't, unfortunately the Caps will too be static at this level again for '08-'09.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | August 5, 2008 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Boo! |,

ice was what put him out.. he played after puck in the mouth.

Posted by: jim* | August 5, 2008 3:49 AM | Report abuse

Really happy to have Clark back for the beginning of the season. Two very solid RW's (Kozlov being the second) makes the Caps that much better. Hopefully Fehr, Laich, or Flash show up as a third solid RW. Rolling three lines of offense -- priceless.

Posted by: JIM | August 5, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse

BernieWolfeFan:

That implies that none of the three could be considered an upgrade over something currently on the team, which I staunchly disagree with. That's like saying that the team could not use Nik Lidstrom because he was not with the Caps last season. Nylander is without question an upgrade over Kozlov, who did his share of time at center last season. Clark being reinserted then pushes others down the chart - and he is most definitely an upgrade over Matt Bradley or Donald Brashear, who are the most likely to lose their starting jobs from the return (figuring others would be pushed down the chart leaving Bradley or Brashear in the press box).

Pothier is a non-issue, he's going on Long-Term Injured Reserve and won't be a cap hit (he also won't be able to be traded).

It's not like last season's team won the Cup or anything, there is no reason to stand pat on the final roster if there's a chance to improve, particularly if it can be done at next to no cost, like it is here.

Posted by: Nomad | August 5, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Clark "gained" a season because he gets paid when he's injured. So sitting out a season means he gets paid for this "lost" season, and that he can probably play an "extra" season later on in his career. It's a business, and CC potentially just got another year's salary by being injured.

Posted by: wilfred14 | August 5, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

@ fan

Last I recall, Henrik was still a center. Nice try, however.

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