Morning Reading List: Caps Open in Boston
The NHL released its 2009-10 regular-season schedule yesterday afternoon (viewed here in its entirety), and while the Caps certainly don't have an easy first 10 days -- they open in Boston and will then face the retooled Leafs, Flyers, Rangers and Red Wings -- GM George McPhee said he likes the way things shook out.
"We play good teams right off the bat, and that's what you want," McPhee said. "There's one stretch where we play a lot of road games in late November [and] early December. But other than that, we're happy with how it worked out."
The league also made the announcement nobody was surprised to hear: The Winter Classic will be played at Fenway Park (gasp!) between the Bruins and the Flyers. You don't say.
Word around town was that the Caps were under consideration to play in the outdoor game, but NBC nixed the idea because Washington's TV market wasn't as enticing. But would the Caps have made for a better game?
From ESPN's Scott Burnside:
No offense to Simon Gagne, new Flyer Chris Pronger and repatriated bad-boy netminder Ray Emery, but the decision to have the Flyers face off against the Bruins, announced at a press conference in Boston on Wednesday afternoon, is one that simply flies in the face of logic.
If the point of the Winter Classic is to showcase the game's greatest talents on a grand and unusual stage, to appeal to an audience that might not otherwise tune in to NHL games, it behooves the NHL to do it right. It behooves the NHL not to compromise on a product with a proven ability to achieve those lofty goals.
That at least three of these outdoor games will pass without the Caps and Ovechkin on display is ludicrous.
If, as sources tell ESPN.com, the decision was made based largely on the fact that Philadelphia is a bigger television market than Washington, someone ought to send those decision-makers video of some of Ovechkin's many highlight-reel goals.
Does anyone remember the buzz of the Washington-Pittsburgh playoff series a year ago?
Does anyone remember the theatrics Ovechkin delivered to the normally stifling skills competition at the All-Star Game in Montreal in January?
Did anyone notice that Ovechkin won his second straight Hart Trophy in June and that the Caps are among the most exciting teams in the NHL with a supporting cast that includes Norris Trophy candidate Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin? Well?
Also on ESPN.com, games to watch in 2009-10:
Nov. 28: Washington at Montreal The Washington Capitals will be in Montreal, and although details remain sketchy, it is possible that this game will be played at the cavernous Big O (Olympic Stadium) as another in what has been a year of special events marking the team's 100th anniversary.
Jan. 21: Washington at Pittsburgh These four-a-season matchups between Pittsburgh and Washington always provide lots of drama thanks to the Crosby versus Ovechkin subplot, a storyline that is likely to follow both superstars throughout their careers. That drama will be brought into sharper focus this season after the Pens' dramatic come-from-behind victory in the second round of the playoffs that culminated in a Game 7 drubbing of Ovechkin and the Caps in Washington.
A few other items of note this morning:
* From Faceoff.com, a story on newly-signed Flames defenseman -- and former Hershey Bear -- Staffan Kronwall:
After scouring the latest Calder Cup, the Flames have plucked a pair of skaters - Jason Jaffray, a spirited forward with the Manitoba Moose; Staffan Kronwall, a hulking defenceman with the Hershey Bears.
"I think it's the best way for scouts to watch guys that aren't in the NHL," Kronwall said Wednesday from his home in Sweden. "Such a tight schedule, we play 80 games - very similar to the NHL - and it's the same style. Obviously (playing in the Calder Cup) is huge. Most guys in the NHL have played in the American league at some point.
"A good way to show off."
It's worth noting, too, that the AHL puts its finalists through the spring wringer. The 2009 version didn't end until Hershey won Game 6 . . .. on June 12.
"Once it's over, you relax, you feel just drained," said Kronwall. "Mentally, you're just in a different world. During that whole (playoff) stint, basically, you're a machine. You follow your routines exactly. Every day is the same. When you raise that Cup, it's all worth it, right?"
In 21 post-season games, Kronwall contributed a dozen points, best of the Bears' blue-liners.
* As usual from Alex Ovetjkin, a great Ovi update:
SovSport correspondent Pavel Lysenkov had a phone interview with Alexander Ovechkin yesterday and asked him about the prospect of playing at the "Big O". "Chic idea!" immediately reacted Ovechkin. "It is cool if the league has invited our team to the Montréal's celebration. I have a personal reason, my mother became the Olympic champion in basketball in that city. She was there as a member of Soviet Union delegation at the opening and closing ceremonies. Well, it would be nice if I could play at that arena 33 years later."
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