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Posted at 10:06 AM ET, 03/ 1/2011

George McPhee doesn't believe trades will disrupt Capitals' chemistry

By Katie Carrera

At the trade deadline in 2009-10, General Manager George McPhee brought in four players: Eric Belanger, Joe Corvo, Scott Walker and Milan Jurcina. Only the first three would suit up for the Capitals in the remainder of that season and as a whole the transactions, in retrospect, would yield mixed reviews.

Only Belanger really meshed well with the Capitals, though part of that may have been attributed to the abbreviated playoff run. On Monday, McPhee said he wasn't worried about disrupting the dressing room chemistry with the addition of three players -- Jason Arnott, Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm -- at this year's trade deadline.

"Not this year, because we were addressing specific needs that we have. We were a little bit thin," McPhee said when asked if he was concerned about the influx of new faces. "Last year we were a good team and were trying to add depth and hoping that, depending on who we were playing in the playoffs, we'd have any kind of flavor of lineup we'd need against certain teams. Had we won the first round it might have worked out really well, but you don't and they tell you it wasn't a good idea.

"But I don't think that'll happen this year because we had a couple holes to fill," he continued, "and we filled them without any excess given up."

How Arnott, Wideman and Sturm fit in with the Capitals remains to be seen but this was definitely a different team than the one McPhee tried to bolster a season ago. Are you worried about the new players impacting the Capitals' chemistry on the ice or in the locker room?

By Katie Carrera  | March 1, 2011; 10:06 AM ET
Categories:  George McPhee, Trade deadline  
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Next: Semyon Varlamov taking part in the Capitals' morning skate


Both Wideman and Arnott are on the ice for the #caps this morning as expected.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 1, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Well, let's be honest, the chemistry was BAD, so let's hope it DOES get disrupted.

At least let's hope the new guys stir the pot enough so the soup quits sticking to the bottom.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 1, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

chemistry, what chemistry? Putting Semin on 1st line when BB decides that it is time to score goals is the best chemistry this team got. Find it funny how McPhee mentioned word: "chemistry".

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | March 1, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

GMGM was on EITM this morning and said that Arnott, Sturm, and Wideman will all play tonight.

Posted by: griz0615 | March 1, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I agree...DISRUPTION is what we need. We should not be 5th in the East. That being said, I dont care where we finish and would not even mind starting round one on the road.

Come April..put up or shut up.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 1, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

from last thread.

@beforeitstoolate. I am giving the biggest clearest example of how his 60whatever % doesn't mean a whole lot. How about the fact that over the last several games we have had Gordon take faceoffs with Steckel on the wing? Is that a better indication of what his value is as a faceoff guy? As for giving him up for nothing I do believe we got a great locker room leader who has a Cup ring and an OT GWG to win the Cup.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 1, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I found myself thinking about how this year they only gave up one guy on the active roster (Steckel) such that disruption ought to be minimal, but then I looked back at last year and saw that the same was true then (only active-roster player given up was Pothier in the Corvo deal), so that theory obviously doesn't work.

The biggest difference that strikes me is that last year the Caps wound up in a situation of having to rotate the roster too much and sit some guys too often. With the team's current situation (Green and Poti out indefinitely; Fehr in limbo; King hardly ever plays), it seems like a roster squeeze should be less of an issue, which strikes me as a positive.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 1, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Since our new guys are all playing tonight please someone tell me that means we can go Sloan-less for a while? How did GMGM ever think that guy was an NHL defensemen? Oh Yeah....Forgot about Doig

Posted by: hart2014 | March 1, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Also if faceoff guys were so important then why is Knopka (sp) still on the Island. He could have been had for a second round pick, according to the trade that was reported at one point with the Ducks, and none of the contenders thought he was worth it. And he also brings a physical nature that Steckel doesn't and has a lower cap hit and no on wanted him for a second. That is how important a faceoff guy is in this league.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 1, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 1, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

how long it will be till Boydo will get injured? Tell you the truth, I didn't really pay attention to the Rangers game, so don't really know who was taking face-offs in Rangs game. but Steks did good vs Sabres and Pens.

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | March 1, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

What do you guys thing of this for first two lines?

Ovie Backstrom Semin
Laich Arnott Knuble

That way you have your goal scorers up front with a strong veteran line backing them up.

Posted by: daviladk | March 1, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Most people have said it correctly, you have to see some games first before you can make judgement. VT made a good point as well about BB and his constant shuffling of the lines. With only 20 games left, that doesnt leave a lot of time for chemistry building, especially when your coach hasnt learned the concept of line chemistry in his 3+ years here.

Hopefully Sturm and Arnott can use their veteran experience to assimilate into a line, rather than have to wait for BB to "figure it out".

I also think Majo would better serve the team as our 3C and let Arnott take the 2C role with Sturm/Semin flanking him.


I wouldnt mind seeing Beagle in there (perhaps 4C), but for now I see BB going with Snoopy as the scratch. When Fehr returns, some tough decisions will have to be made. Too bad though, I thought Fehr would have gotten the chance to prove he could take over Knubles spot this year...but he got injured just as he was doing well and that may have cost him his chance.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | March 1, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Anyone interested in getting a group together for the Sfla trip, drop me a big roadtrip to try to catch the lightning...

Posted by: OVIHtrick8 | March 1, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

So I am a little confused (surprise!)

Since King cleared waivers can we send him down to Hershey? Did I hear previously that we can no longer send down Beagle (not that we necesarily want to)?

I really hope this new lineup works well! I think they were good moves...having a player at the end of his career can be good...he has experience and it's possibly his last chance at another he's going to really want it.

Sturm has a lot to prove since things didn't go so well in CA. And wideman is needed as Green has been in and out of the lineup all season and not playing as well as expected.

If Fehr, Sturm, Laich, MoJo, and Chimera all stay healthy for the playoffs, that could be some impressive secondary scoring!

Posted by: capscoach | March 1, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Jamal Mayers got less points then Stecks, but plays every game and 2nd in face-offs. Islanders are not trading players away! After beating the Pens, they said thousand times that they are like one family and Snow sees Konopka on the Islanders. So I don't see your point that no one wants face-off guys and etc.

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | March 1, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

And yes, I really hope Esskay gets to hit the nacho bar tonight. No 89 on the players bench please. K thanks.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | March 1, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

oppps, my bad. I don't know why I thought it was Mayers, Malhotra is 2nd. sorry.

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | March 1, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

SAOTI: Let's face it, you have Knuble on the 1st line, and his lack of production has been a significant issue in the team's struggles.

On top of the new guys assimilating, some of the old guys need to turn it up a notch.

If Knuble, Semin, Laich and Green all return to form, it would be like getting SEVEN players at the deadline.

You is possible that the new guys will infuse the old with Huet, Cooke and Feds...maybe...

Capt't Kirk: Got any spare Kool Aid? Maybe just a sip? For now, anyway, I will be a Sunshine Kid and see how long it lasts.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 1, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

@davidlk - singing my song - except don't know if the Arnott line (which I totally agree with) is actually the "2nd" or the "3rd". It doesn't matter, in any event.

Majo's been getting better each week. I hope he doesn't hit a wall, though...Smart kid and he's got serious jump on his skates. Looks like he kicks in the turbo (perhaps his father worked at Saab?) sometimes...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | March 1, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@beforeitstoolate, I am not saying Steckel isn't great at faceoffs, what I am saying is even as the best in the league the difference between him and Backstrom or Arnott who aren't even our second best guy is less then 1 FO win over 10 faceoffs. Even if there are a lot of whistles and the centers are taking 15-20 faceoffs a game that means the difference per game is 1-2 faceoffs, now if that one happens to be a defensive zone one at the end of the game then great but it very well could be a random netural zone faceoff that means nothing. I also have noticed that when Steckel loses faceoffs he tends to do so cleanly which is much worse then losing in a scrum. I would gladly take a guy who loses more often but doesn't do it cleanly then one who loses less often but allows others to run set plays off of those losses.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 1, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

capscoach: It was Andrew Gordon, who had to clear waivers back in Oct, who can't go back (w/o new waivers) if he plays 10 NHL games (he's played nine I think).

Beagle though IIRC isn't waiver eligible yet, so he CAN go down if correct.

King passed through waivers and I believe can either be sent to Hershey or left with the Caps. If they send him to Hershey, then try to bring him back, you get "recall" waivers.

Beyond that, someone refresh me, you get like 4 roster moves or something you can make from deadline day through end of Playoffs? Also, starting today, don't rosters expand? BUT, you must always be within the cap, which was why Stecks got moved; is why maybe King goes down; and why Green might get LTIRed.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 1, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@beforeitstoolate, Konopka was almost traded for a second but the Ducks decided that they didn't want to give up a second for him. It was reported as almost done yesterday then the Ducks changed their mind. Malhotra is a very different type of player, he does so much more for that team then just win faceoffs, which even those who say we shouldn't have traded Steckel are only saying so because of faceoffs.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 1, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal - "got any spare kool-aid" - thanks for the laugh! (tftl)

yes, feeling a little more koolaid in my system right now. I think they CAN rejuvenate. Bradley seems to like Sturm so that's a good sign; means he's good in the LR.

BTW, people posted on this blog that Corvo was "poison" in the locker room. Anyone know about that?

Posted by: RedLitYogi | March 1, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I think bringing in Arnott was INTENDED to shake things up. He is a former captain in the NHL an a veteran with a ring.

Fedorov improved the Capitals immeasurably in 2008-2009 simply through his mature presence on the club.

The hope is that Arnott does the same come playoff time.

Wideman fits right in where Green and Poti left off. He is a smooth skating offensive defenseman who works well on the power play.

Sturm, assuming he is healthy, has been a steady opportunist in the NHL scoring 20 goals 7 times.

I see Sturm being the kind of veteran that will excel at converting those neutral ice turnovers that Chimera and Steckel got but were unable to turn into scores at the other end.

He also has experience trying to get his goals on a team (Boston) that played a defensive-style and counter-punched.

So far Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom have not picked up on the subtle change in their games that is necessary adapt to a counter-puncher role.

It takes more patience and precision on the ice with less razzle dazzle and more hard skating and getting to a spot.

Not too glamorous. But effective if you can pull it off.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | March 1, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Beyond that, someone refresh me, you get like 4 roster moves or something you can make from deadline day through end of Playoffs? Also, starting today, don't rosters expand? BUT, you must always be within the cap, which was why Stecks got moved; is why maybe King goes down; and why Green might get LTIRed.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 1, 2011 10:38 AM

I think the rule is that you only get four call-ups from the trade deadline through the end of your farm team's season, except for emergency call-ups in case of injury during the playoffs. (I seem to recall a year or two ago there was some emphasis made on some of the Caps' moves where they made a point of designating someone an "emergency call-up." I forget who it was, and I also forget whether the rule requires that the emergency call-up be sent back to the farm team as soon as the player he replaced is healthy.)

The 23-man roster limit is no longer in effect after the trade deadline, though any players added to the roster must still fit within the salary cap and the 50-contract limit.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 1, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

and, yes, put Semin on the first line! Ovie will hold him accountable. Semin's been very good lately so let's cut him some slack.

Sturm can play with Majo until the wheels pop. (And I hope they don't, but just sayin'...)

Not a bad team at all, I'd say...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | March 1, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Are you worried about the new players impacting the Capitals' chemistry on the ice or in the locker room?

By Katie Carrera | March 1, 2011; 10:06 AM ET

Are we talking about the chemistry that has resulted in losing 3 outta 4 playoff series??

Well I hope these new guys do DISRUPT that chemistry!!!

Posted by: joek443 | March 1, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I would like for someone who really knows to tell me what kind of Captain Ovechkin is... Is he a leader in the room? Do the guys really respect him? Do they relate to him or does he alienate too many of his teammates?

Did the Caps make a mistake naming him Captain based upon his play rather than his leadership capabilities?

You can say what you want to but it looks like "team desire" took a big hit when Clarkie left. Let's hope some of these new players bring some of that with them.

Seems like things begin to go south when Chris Clark left. No reflection on Jason Chimurra, I am talking strictly about the loss of leadership.

Posted by: muddapucker | March 1, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The playoff Chemistry up to this point was horrible. It is about time that Uncle Ted went out and picked up some real vets sort of like Carolina, Tampa and Pitts does when they need to. Example: Recchi: Carolina, Andrechuk: Tampa and Guerin: Pittsburgh. Time to put these young guns in their places in the locker room. They might even learn something.

Posted by: diner99 | March 1, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The trades were very positve to our team. We have a bunch of kids who have no one to look up to. When Federov was here everybody looked up to him and you saw the passion on the young guys. He left and I felt we were lacking that. Hannan stepped in and after a month you read an article about how he has taken over the room. Arnott alone will take over the room starting tonight. His experience along with Strum and Wideman will go along way with this team. Losing Steckel is no big deal. Gordo is pretty good at the faceoffs as well, when he's healthy. I feel the fire coming back.

Posted by: houndskins | March 1, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@mudd - don't think anyone here knows as you would have to be in the room. We just know what we read and saw in 24/7, and draw our own conclusions. Things didn't begin to go south when CC left, shortly after Ovi got the C they went on the 14 game win streak.

@1995hoo - How dare you post a positive thought on this board!! (Tongue firmly in cheek).

Posted by: ds_kelly | March 1, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Good move by the Caps to pick up Sturm. Now if they could only go out and get Miklos Drang -- pairing those two on the same line would be dynamite.

Posted by: jmbethesda | March 1, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse


Not arguing with you... just saying that the ethic and leadership that Clark provided had a residual effect. So his leadership still impacted the streak. Its like changing the course of ship, it takes a little while because it still has momentum taking it in its former direction.

Plus, leadership is not nearly as important when things are going well as when they tank...

Don't have HBO, would be interested in what you saw on 24/7.

By the way, I like what GMGM pulled off and am optimistic about the remainder of the season. I think the moves give the Caps a "fighting chance".

Posted by: muddapucker | March 1, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Could GMGM be more out of touch with a comment like that??

All of the previous posters have it right when collectively they hope that bringing Arnott in will change (for the better) the lack of chemistry on the team now.

BB has to take some of the blame for the lack of chemistry for his continual changing of the lines.

Consisitency (both in effort and line combinations) and disciplined play are sorely needed right now!

Posted by: SOMDHockeyCoach | March 1, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Let the season begin!

Lets go Caps!!!

Posted by: DCSportsfanatic1 | March 1, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

...VT made a good point as well about BB and his constant shuffling of the lines. With only 20 games left, that doesnt leave a lot of time for chemistry building, especially when your coach hasnt learned the concept of line chemistry in his 3+ years here....

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce

The upside is the new guys should assimilate well because everyone is used to being moved around anyhow. :) But, unless the lines have great success immediately he'll probably continue to mess with them until 0.01 is left on the clock of game 82. :)

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 1, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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