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Morgan Grew Up Between the Blue Lines

(John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

Columnist Tracee Hamilton attributes much of the Nats' recent success to leadoff man Nyjer Morgan, who followed an unusual career path that began on the ice.

Here's an excerpt from the column:

At the age of 7, he saw the U.S. hockey team at the Calgary Olympics, and he fell in love with the sport. At 16, he left his home in San Francisco to pursue a hockey career in Canada. For four years he played for such teams as the North Okanagan Kings, the Nelson Leafs and the Delta Ice Hawks. In the summers he played baseball and was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 1998, but didn't sign. He finally made it to the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League for seven games before being released.

And then there's this:

He'll likely make some trips this winter to Verizon Center to watch some hockey. Asked if he'd like to skate with the Washington Capitals at some point, his eyes light up. He still follows the game, and the Penguins invited him to skate with them during his time in Pittsburgh. (Ted Leonsis, it's your move.)
So, Nyjer, who's the better player, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby? He diplomatically says, "They're both good, two different players," then adds, "One's more exciting than the other."
Which one? "Ovechkin."
Why? "He gives something that the fans like to see."

If and when Morgan gets to skate with the Caps, we'll make sure to be there. Check out the rest of Tracee's column here, and more on Morgan's hockey background here.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  August 10, 2009; 12:42 PM ET
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Next: Morning Links: Alzner Ready to Fight for Spot


A Nats tie-in....neat.

Posted by: superpaqman | August 10, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I am truly impressed with how our regional teams support and promote each other. Back in my youth days when I lived in NY, I don't remember it being that way. I was a kid back then though and perhaps I just don't remember it.

As an aside, don't worry folks. Living in the DC/Baltimore area since 2000 has shook most of the NY off of me.

Posted by: lornemyoung | August 10, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

That's impressive. Though he only laced them up for 7 games in the Western Hockey League it proves he was a telented hockey player. To make it that far is no joke. Hopefully we'll see him on the jumbotron taking in some games this year. Maybe he'll be in Lorne's seats. (Just kidding Lorne).

Only 42 days until the 1st home game of the preseason game vs the Sabres.

Only 52 days until the 1st regular season game in Boston.

Only 54 days until the 1st regular season home game against the Maple Leafs.

Not trying to wish anyone's summer away, just sayin'.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 10, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

He can have my seat. I'm getting Center Ice and a new TV. Though, maybe I should clear that sort of thing with the family. I'm over the funk.

Posted by: lornemyoung | August 10, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

How good is Major-Junior Hockey (the WHL is a Major Junior League) in terms of the minor league baseball? AHL = AAA, ECHL=AA. Is it A ball?

I know Junior hockey is conceptually different. It's not professional, but it's played in the same manner. Kids generally live away from home, billeted with families in the local towns. They also have to go to school. It has long seasons and playoffs--longer than NCAA hockey. The kids are younger 16-20 vs. 18-24 for A ball or NCAA hockey.

I guess it might have a broader skill set. You'll have kids like Gretzky, Crobsy, or Boudreau, who are good enough to play at higher levels but aren't old enough mixed with kids who are developing but have potential to play at higher levels as A ball would.

Posted by: SuperG5 | August 10, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I negotiated my cable bill from $118 down to $62. I think I'm going to angle for free NHL network when the season starts.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 10, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if people trade in season tickets from the NY Islanders or the Thrashers if that counts under the "Cash for Clunkers" program?

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 10, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

ECHL would be more like independent leagues, you don't really put your top prospects in the ECHL unless you have to. The Major Juniors are more like D-I NCAA (baseball wise) or Double A.

Posted by: koalatek | August 10, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I negotiated my cable bill from $118 down to $62. I think I'm going to angle for free NHL network when the season starts.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 10, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

HOW?? Do tell!

Posted by: mrszilla | August 10, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

@ mrszilla,

My promotional rates expired (didn't know I was under promotional rates), so my bill which was usually $80 went up to $118. I used their chat help thing online to request a better internet rate, and then called them up to ask what they could do for me about TV service.

All I said was "I don't think my tv service is worth $60, so I want to downgrade or maybe just cancel to save money; Unless there's a promo rate or something" and the dude found me a promotional rate.. So my bill went from $80 to $118 to $60.

You just have to tell them you're a good customer and you want a deal, pretty much..

Posted by: thiazzi | August 10, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't trade in those Islanders tickets. John Tavares may turn out to be special and so far he doesn't seem to have the attitude of entitlement of that other young Canadian phenom.

If you don't want your Islanders tickets, I'll take them. As for the Thrashers, yikes. I think it is going to be a battle between the Thrashers and Colorado for the #1 pick next year.

Posted by: lornemyoung | August 10, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Nyger is a good kid.

I hated to see the Pirates trade him, but that's the kind of things teams do to retain their "worst run organization in baseball" title. This particular ownership group is king of the hill in that regard.


Posted by: PensFan98 | August 10, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

center ice is the way to go.
during the season - i leave work at 3:30 (except west coast trips) on game days to get home in time to see the puck drop. the beer is colder and cheaper - plus i can really watch any game i want - all for $160
my wife considers me dead from oct to april->june-ish because i won't commit to any extra-curricular activities without consulting the caps schedule. just to clarify - i'm considered comatose from april->june to oct - so she doesn't really gain to much over the summer

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | August 10, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I got some wonderful birthday gifts this year, even though I thought my birthday would not be a good day since my husband would not be home that day. Here they are:

1)Caps acquire Mike Knuble (just before his birthday)

2)Nats acquire Nyjer Morgan (just before his birthday)

3)A co-worker of mine who had transferred to a different site called me out of the blue to wish me happy birthday and we went out to lunch.

4) My daughter's swim team beat the best team in the league for the "Miracle on Melted Ice" a little over a week later. (Belated present)

So, birthday boys Morgan and Knuble were traded to my local teams for my birthday. A pair of "low mileage" for their age players. Thank you.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | August 10, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse


"My cousins are still somewhat in awe that I fell into ice hockey ... I'm more apt to be found behind a comic book than rooting on the Lakers, Dodgers, Ducks, Angels, and Kings. But Capitals hockey was something else."

Well, Ovi, Greenie and the boys are kinda like superheros, so it makes complete sense to me! :-) Have you always lived in CA? That is kind of amazing that you got into hockey, especially the Caps, when you don't live here and/or never lived up north. But that's pretty cool ... and the more the merrier!

"I'm looking forward to booing Avery. Please, let's hit Avery...hard! =P"

I'm with ya ... he's such a punk. Although I must admit that it is kind of a guilty pleasure to see him play in the VC. He really is the kind of guy that people love to hate. Anyway, I look forward to "seeing" you there! :-)

Posted by: Boo- | August 10, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Capt Kirk (actually I promoted you to Admiral, but Kirk himself took a step back to Captain):

I know how you feel on Center Ice. First, though, the Center Ice picture, like the NBA and baseball package, are awful. I have called many times and get excuses. BUT, I watch each game on the 58" HD set (even if few on are HD) from my own "luxury box." Puck drops at 7 and the gourmet meal is usually served around 6:30. We could be having shrimp scampi or t-bone steak or baked cod or you name it. Then I reach into the wine cooler (120 bottles) and select the perfect accompaniment to the food. Appetizer? If I request. Soup? Sometimes.

Yes, I miss those days when I rushed home from work to drive the 140 miles roundtrip for the season tickets. And I'd do it again. But you make due with the hand that's dealt.

"I will have the t-bone, medium, with french fries and broccoli, and the 7 Deadly Zins, 2006 Zinfandel, and I don't want to pay other than the grocery bill."

"Yes, monsieur, immediately."

OK, that was freakin easy...can we cure the deficit too?

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 10, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

About the Kane situation, why and who is serving alcohol to a 20 yr old?
Not condoning any of his behavior until we get all the facts, it is obvious others are at fault here as well folks. just my 2 cents.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | August 10, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Now we cannot hit Avery without Brashear trying to pulverize one of our guys. I'm sorry to see him be Avery and Torts watchdog. What a waste.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 10, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Erskey or Brads would have to go at it with Brash and I don't think that would be too pretty.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | August 10, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I think Brads and Erskine will try to stay away from that. But it will be tougher to put Avery in his place w #87 guarding him. Mostly, enforcers fight other enforcers, but I doubt Brashear will mind giving any of our players an elbow (or worse) and taking a two minute penalty. It pretty much stinks. But I am real happy w the team we have. Our guys are really going to have to skate w their heads up. And skate with confidence regardless of being w/o an enforcer.
If they don't skate w/ confidence and refs don't make calls all of the finesse in the NHL isn't going to get them wins. I am looking forward to the speed of the team though. We definitely are going to be one of the faster teams. Brash (and others) can't hurt them if they can't catch them.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 10, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

hey maybe kane wants some street credit.. yeah boooooooiiiii :)

maybe he had a good fake ID, he looks like he's 16.

Posted by: joek443 | August 10, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Interesting thought, I do get on some of the other teams boards just to see what they post. I don't post myself. And the other fans; Philly, Canes, and Rags, seem to really have a respect for the Caps now. They realize the talent that we have on our team.
And of course the Rags' fans feel ticked off that they signed Brashear. The Rags' have no one to score. I'd be upset if we used a roster spot and almost $3 million in cap space for an enforcer when we don't have any scorers. That team is like the team from Slapshot now.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 10, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

@ Boo:

WARNING: Ample geeking out to commence.

Yeah, I totally see the heroic comparisons between the Capitals and other hockey teams. I look at the Capitals like the Justice League of America and the Pens are the Legion of Doom. *pushes up tortoise shell glasses*

Lived in LA all my life and while I remember riding a train past the digital sign that congratulated the Ducks when they won the Stanley Cup a few years back, it didn't appeal to me. In LA, you're raised on the Lakers. *shrug* Now, the Capitals, it's like an epiphany. It's like clarity after years in a stupor. It's like...again, I wanna' be at the Verizon already yelling "Let's Go Caps!" I wanna' hear Horn Guy already. I need to hear bodies crashing the boards. I need to see the red siren behind the visitor goalie light up! I need to hear the announcer and the visuals on the big screen announce who scored and show the player's picture and number!

Ugh, is it the Rangers game yet in October yet?!!! =/

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 10, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't foresee Brash as a Rag as that big of a deal. It's not like he fought every time he stepped on the ice or every game for that matter. Sure he looks to hit everything he can catch but do we really think Torts is gonna put him out there against OV? If he does maybe we'll see him on NBC as well soon. While Brash understands his role better than most I doubt he'd take liberties on one of our star players. Certainly we are lacking in the roughness department but I don't think we HAVE to have a Brash type of player to win a Cup. Where was the Brash type on the Pens or Wings?

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 11, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

NHL Center Ice, Shrimp Scampi, Baked Cod, other gourment meals, and a 58" HD TV are great for Caps road games. However, during home games I want to watch replays on the huge jumbotron, enjoy overpriced beer and food, and hang out with my sons during intermissions talking about the crazy goal OV just scored. For me, hockey is without a doubt the only sport I find I cannot miss live.

I have no problem watching every Redskins game on TV. Maybe it's the atmosphere as a whole, but I like watching football on TV, the field is just too darn big, and unless you want to spend literally a thousand to go to a game you will basically watch the entire game on the FEDEX jumbotron anyway, may as well watch it at home.

Going to a Caps game is a totally different experience. We get there early, before the Caps even come out for warmup. As soon as you walk through the tunnel you feel the chilled air hit your face, the ice has a clean cut, and it's bright, and waiting for the Caps to come out for warmup is exciting these days too. Slowly the place starts filling up, your season ticket holder pals catch up with whats gone one since the last game, you see little kids walking up the stairs with their minature OV jerseys's like VISA used to say...PRICELESS.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 11, 2009 6:34 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it's that big of a deal. The Caps are a fast and skilled team that don't play with an enforcer. If I'm Torts, I scratch Brashear and put a checking forward who can skate on the ice. (Do the Rags have a lot of those?)

Posted by: kittypawz | August 11, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Is Avery still on the Rangers? I thought he was a FA? maybe not...

Posted by: NJNJ | August 11, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

BB's book is on sale today..

Posted by: powerplay | August 11, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

fanohock: I hear you. I'm just doing the best with what I have.

I had two choices: be laid off, or have the company pay moving expenses to send me to Orlando where I'd have a job (and still do, 14 yrs later).

I miss Caps home games and stopping along the side of the road in summer to buy a half-bushel of live crabs. I don't miss the weather and I don't miss the state income tax.

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 11, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

The weather has been a real treat the last few days. Mild summer in relative terms, but the last few days have been a reminder of how bad summer weather can be here.

I know you said you don't make it up too often, but if you plan a trip this winter let me know. I have 4 seats and my sons and I go to just about every game. The 4th seat is my wife's but she picks and chooses who she comes to the stadium to watch. Kind of funny she does that because she watches the games on TV even if she doesn't go. Anyhow, the other seat is usually filled with one of my son's friends. If you come up this winter I'd be happy to let you sit in my 4th seat, no cost. We're in the upper deck, by budget at first, but choice now, so they're not front row but a great vantage point to watch the games.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 11, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Kittypawz; no the Rags do not have a lot of those. And they don't really have anyone who can score other than Gaborik if he is healthy.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 11, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Although, I wouldn't say Brash is not that big of a deal. He has a lot to prove to the Ranger fans in the first few games. And he knows it. Remember, he wasn't on the ice for long when he permanently took out their best PK guy.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 11, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

And I doubt Torts will scratch him against the Caps. You have to use what you have. And the Rags don't have much talent so Torts will have to use intimidation.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 11, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

fanohock: Will do. Thx.

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 11, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I would imagine the Rangers would want Brash to prove where his loyalties lie and the point would best be made on the ice against the Caps...unfortunately. =/ It may also psych out the Caps, even for a little bit. We'll see though....

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 11, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

That as well LeftCoast. And I'm sure Brashear wants to prove his loyalties as well considering the fans aren't happy about the signing.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 11, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer is awesome. Invite him to skate with the Caps!!!!

Posted by: rachel216 | August 11, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

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