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Rookie Camp: Day Two

So how exactly did Alex Ovechkin end up on the ice with two dozen prospects at KCI this morning? He came to Coach Bruce Boudreau at 8:30 a.m. and asked if it would be okay, that's how.

"What does that say about the character of the guy?" Boudreau said. "I thought it would be quite a thrill for some of these young kids to get a pass from Alex."

From the sounds of it, those young kids got a whole lot more.

Many of them did a doubletake when Ovechkin joined them on the bench. And although they tried not to stare, I definitely caught a few of them sizing up the reigning MVP when he skated past. Ovechkin also was fully aware that he being watched. For example, he made sure to skate to the front and pay close attention when Boudreau went over Xs and Os at the dry erase board.

One prospect in particular will have a story to tell later on. Defenseman Eric Mestery, an 18-year-old draft pick, was manning his position in front of the net when Ovechkin raced in, slammed on the brakes and gave Mestery a shove.

"I didn't know what to do, actually," Mestery said with a big smile. "I didn't know whether to push him back or just ...I don't know. It was great to have him on the ice. It was so cool. My parents are here and they were taking pictures."

"I just thought, 'Wow, that's Ovechkin, the best player in the league," he added.

Ovechkin introduced himself to Mestery with an elbow to the gut, but for the most part, Ovechkin held back a little, particularly when it came to unloading his rocket of a slap shot.

"My shot right now, actually, it's not good right now," Ovechkin joked. "CCM is making me new sticks right now, so I have to figure out what's going on."

He added: "They [kept asking] me one question: if you go on break away or you have chance to score, where do you shoot?"

Ovechkin came back to Kettler around 3 p.m. to pick up Russian prospects Simeon Varlamov, Dmitry Kugryshev and Viktor Dovgan, who grabbed their belongings and followed Ovechkin out to his car like younger brothers trailing their big brother.

"Guys have a tendency not to show that they are in awe," Boudreau said. "But I bet you when they go home, the first person they phone are mom and dad and say, 'You're not going to believe who was on the ice with today.'"

Here are some other notes/observations from day two of rookie camp:

*(Repeated from the last post) Anton Gustafsson did not skate today. GM George McPhee said that yesterday's suicides aggravated his herniated disc. McPhee, though, doesn't think the flare-up will sideline Gustafsson the rest of camp.

*Dovgan said on Sunday that he had been given permission by the Caps to leave North America and play in Russia last season to bulk up. McPhee, however, disputed Dovgan's claim, saying, "I don't where that came from."

*After the rookies were done, two dozen Caps' veterans (and a few Hershey players) hit the ice for an intense, full contact pick up game. Ovechkin, of course, was not there because he skated with the rookies.

*Nicklas Backstrom's sprained right ankle continues to improve, according to McPhee. I saw Backstrom walking around a little later and he definitely was not limping. All I could get out of him when I approached him was, "I'm okay."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 15, 2008; 3:21 PM ET
 
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Comments

great stuff Tarik

Posted by: rh71 | September 15, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

It's great to see that Ovie is such a positive example to the younger players. Too often in professional sports, the fame and money gets to their head... happily, it doesn't seem that way with Ovie...

Posted by: FrankM73 | September 15, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Tarik......great updates...
How are the guys from the Q looking ?
How about King Karl ?

Posted by: caps fan in canada | September 15, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

This get's me excited. ANd from the last post, I agree with Chief. Kids shouldn't play until he is healed.

Posted by: Leeguru | September 15, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Think the tadpoles noticed the shark in the pond?

Tadpole #1: "I'm not gonna gonna lose my tail, am I?"

Tadpole #2: "Don't be such a frog, of course you won't"

Shark: "Thanks for the tail boys, come and see me when you have legs, I'll eat them, too"

Posted by: sp | September 15, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love Ovie!

Posted by: AM Capsfan | September 15, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I was at Kettler the day OV showed up. After practice in the am, I left the ice rink area and basically did nothing but check email. Maybe an hour after I had left, I heard what seemed to be heavy slap shots hitting the glass. It was OV filming a commercial. I watched from above as they were wrapping things up. OV then just skated around toying with a puck. I was the only person around. He then ripped the tape off of his stick and threw it at me, or in my general direction.

I now own used hockey stick tape from OV. If I had a Coke, I would've giving it to him.

OV gets it, and that's great for us and the Capitals.

Posted by: JSchon | September 15, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Its only a matter of time before OV is the top area sports figure. He's already the best player within his sport, but the other piece is coming.

Posted by: JSchon | September 15, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I know a lot of luck, shrewd management decisions, and other variables play into it, but if the caps dont win a cup with ovie, i dont know if it will ever happen.

Posted by: O-V-P | September 15, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I too agree with Chief, he has reason to fear our prospects. He should hope they all stay away. I suspect his team will be the one hiding in the end.

This was way cool for OVIE. I would not trade him for 6 crysbys.

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin skating with rookies? That's not news! I can't believe that Semin is only showing up the day before camp starts!

Posted by: Chicken Little | September 15, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Semin really doesn't have any work ethic at all to me. That bothers me a lot because he has such great skills. To me he has a better release then ovechkin. He has one of the best shots in the league. If he tried harder, he would be one of the top players in the league with guys like Ovechkin, Crosby(as much as i hate him), Zetterberg, and Datsyuk.

Posted by: Thomas | September 15, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

If I was Mestery, I would of decked him, and then skated off the ice and never came back.

He would of been a legend...

Posted by: Dont take that #8 junk | September 15, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I think that's actually a very good thing for those kids and says a lot about Ovie as well. Rookie camp is about finding out what it takes to make it in the NHL. Not just hellish skating drills and the kind of shape you have to be in, but how to not freak when your idol jumps onto the ice with you. These kids need to get used to the idea that they're going to be skating with Ovie, and do so without blinking or missing a beat. That's how they integrate smoothly into the team.

Posted by: september, finally! | September 15, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Is OV Captain of the Caps ?
Just wondering.

Posted by: Chief | September 15, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

We are so damn lucky to have Ovie (not OV).

I hope he still has this pure love for the game in 13 years.

Note to CCM: hurry up with those new sticks!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

OV is the "un-official" Captain. You don't have to necessarly have the "C" to be the leader (and no dis-respect to CC ) we have several leaders on our team.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | September 15, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Don't take that #8 junk:

"Would've" is a contraction of "would have." "Would of" is not an expression in the English language. This has been a public service announcement.

Posted by: Grammar Nazi | September 15, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

@ Thomas - what data do you use to draw your conclusions about Semin; when he shows up in shape, happy, and ready to play and gets 30 goals before April I hope you are willing to post a long apology.

@ Chief - just a simple question did you take lessons or were you just born this big a tool?

LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!

Posted by: Usually Frustrated Caps Fan | September 15, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Whatever. He does not wear the C. He's only acting the part, what a character.

Posted by: Chief | September 15, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Chief, are you saying what OV did was a bad thing? that he was acting beyond his capacity aas assistant captain?

Posted by: Leeguru | September 15, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

What did he do ? I don't think he's done anything wrong, just observing how everyone praises the guy, that should in fact be the Captain.
It's a joke to continue with letting Clark wear the C, an absolute joke.

Posted by: Chief | September 15, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Or, Chief, are you saying that your boy Crysby would never show up for the prospects? Or that he really does not need to, since MaryO can teach the kids how to whine without help.

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Tarik: these updates are the nourishment that feeds my Cap-addict soul. Thank you and keep it up!

ALL: Stop talking to Chief.

Posted by: Ben | September 15, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree Chief, but how can either of them be captain? They did not deliver a single set of season tickets. Lets get our priorities straight here!

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Chief, I agree, but isn't it the players vote at the beginning of the season that's sets the captain? and is it something that comes up every season, or would Clark have to give it up?

Posted by: Leeguru | September 15, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Poor Chief! He is from Pennsylbama, his friends who aren't illiterate are drunk. If we don't talk to him, who will?

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Tarik:
Lovin' the details - thanks so much!

Newbie (from the previous):
Welcome and please feel free join the banter - we don't bite (well, most of us, anyway!). ;-)

I must say, Ovie rocks. How cool of him to hang with the kiddies! :-) I remember the stories about him being SO respectful to BB when he started - that was very impressive. This is another example of that. For being such a young (and often silly) guy, he really does set a great example. Kudos to him.

Posted by: Boo! | September 15, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Can't say enough about OV(screw the ie). I don't think he was the first to Boudreau because he knew people were watching, I think he got there bc of the type of person/player he is. Everyday this kid is raising the bar on what a NHL Superstar is. Skills no longer takes the cake, you have to be a great two way player, stick up for teammates, be a good example, have heart, take direction from coaches, be a rolemodel, etc...NON OF WHICH CHIEF HAS...

All joking aside, like Jschon said, this kid has it or at least understands what "it" is to go after "it". Can't wait to see these kids play Thursday.....BEWARE OF THE #94 PHILLY FANS!!!!


Jschon, you going to Thursdays game?

Posted by: #94 | September 15, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Different from team to team, depends on coach.
Bottom line, Ovechkin has avoided the C for reasons that are acceptable, now it's no longer acceptable to avoid the C.
BB should meet with Clark and they should present Ovechkin with the C, it's in the best interest of the team.

Posted by: Chief | September 15, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Leeguru:
I think you are right - for the most part, I think the team decides. I can't imagine that they would take that from CC - I think he would have to step aside. Who knows, he might, but seeing as Ovie said he didn't want it when it opened up 2 years ago (and THAT took some maturity), I can't imagine that he would ask for it now. He is surely next, but he is going to be here for a long time - I would be willing to bet that he is willing to wait.

Posted by: Boo! | September 15, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I can surely see Clark stepping aside. There is no question who the leader of this team is, on the ice and off. And Chief is right; it is in the best interest of the team. But I don't think it's important to OV; it would just be another individual thing, and he is more about the team

Posted by: Leeguru | September 15, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe that nobody has commented on the stupidity of running prospects ragged on the first day of training camp. There is no reason to have the players skate suicides the first day of camp. Unless you buy into some old school notions about "hardening them up." This is just idiotic. Now Gustafsson has aggravated his herniated disc. Fantastic. Our #1 draft pick from last year, one whom we traded up to get despite knowing about his back injury, is likely on the shelf for a month at a minimum. (Even if you ARE going to do something this stupid, why on earth would you let a prospect with a known injury participate?)

I probably wouldn't be so harsh, except I've heard stories about preseason injuries from physical therapists who've worked on the Caps. In particular, Sutherby and Clark both suffered groin injuries a few years ago when the team skated while wearing weight vests. On the first day of camp.

This is simply ludicrous. I'm all for using suicides and other harsh measures to push young players and toughen them up, but for the love of puck, please do it AFTER you get them into shape, not as the means of getting them in shape.

Posted by: D'ohboy | September 15, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

You don't have to wear a "C" to be the team leader. On many teams in the NHL the actual team leader, on and off the ice, wears goalie pads. No player on the Caps will look at OV's chest when he talks.

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Bob: AMEN!!!

Leeguru: I agree - he has always seemed to be more concerned about the team than himself.

Posted by: Boo! | September 15, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

@D'ohboy,
The point of the exercise is to show the prospects that they need to get into NHL shape, and work to stay in it. This point was made by the coaches in a time-honored way. Several of the guys apparently are already in this sort of shape (Alzner, among them). They already have gotten the message, the rest need to.

Posted by: Preston Calvert | September 15, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

@D'ohboy

Bet you weren't there right? It was no really "Miracle" like since the players had time to rest in between runs. There were a few players who were seriously tired, but many more who took it in stride, and a number who were unfazed. I doubt that Anton will remain off the ice for long. They talked about his injury being long term and taking time to heal, but at the same time he will start playing league hockey as soon as he returns home. I have a hunch you will see him back on the ice tomorrow, not a month from now. I've watched a bunch of BB's practices and that was not the only difference yesterday. He was doing a lot more yelling and correcting than he usually does. A lot of these kids will skate for us this season or next and Sunday was welcome to the NHL day. Also there was a group of players who gathered on the ice to shoot pucks after practice was over and had to be kicked off by a coach who told them they had to leave to get ready for an "extra curricular" activity. I have a feeling that next year when they get to camp, all of this group will look like Alzner, who looked like he could have done the whole drill over again.

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

@D'ohboy

Not only what Preston said, but I'm not too worried about having Gustafsson on the shelf for a month -- we won't actually see him vying for a center spot in Washington for at least two years. This is another one of those "thank god we have seven thousand centers" moments.

Besides, he wouldn't make the team this year anyway, unless he had the camp to end all camps. He'd have to beat out Backstrom, Nylander, and Fedorov, which won't happen at this point in time, and he's not in the checking line equation as is, so... yeah. I'm really not worried.

That does kind of blow for Perrault, though, nearly passing out from suicides. But I don't have any sympathy -- I did 15 minute rounds of suicides back when I was playing competitively, too. So, whatever. Just need to be in better shape next time.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | September 15, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Did u read Steve Hindle's hockey Buzz blog today? Good stuff about us having best 3 centers in league. And fun to see other people's) from other teams reactions.

Think we would move one to wing? We aren't as deep there and we would have reakin awesome 2 lines if we did that.

Or better to have it spread out?? I go back and forth.

Posted by: CapsCapsCaps | September 15, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Hockeybuzz is a load of crap.

Posted by: Hi | September 15, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

@Boo

Don't forget that many real people live in Pa somewhere between the Pits & Pils. Don't lump us with the jerks. Also, Hershy is in Pa.

Posted by: sidehillman | September 15, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I think Daddy OV just wanted to skate with his young gun rookie russians. Its nice for the rookies to be able to get the "best" there is as a measuring stick.

@D'ohboy
What better way to get guys into shape other than skating/suicide drills??


Posted by: Capsfannmiss | September 15, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Off subject,
I bought a six pack game deal for the original six teams. anyone else? Have they sent the tickets out yet?

Posted by: billd1960 | September 15, 2008 8:35 PM | Report abuse

sorry, boo, meant bob

Posted by: sidehillman | September 15, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Boo, I meant Bob.

Posted by: sidehillman | September 15, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Backstrom is Swedish.

I buy a pack of cards whenever I go to target. Today I got Nicklas Backstrom and Niklas Backstrom in the same pack, on top of each other. I found it a lot more interesting than all of the people I've told about it today.

Posted by: Jordan | September 15, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Sidehillman, I remember that every time we travel up to see the Bears in a part of your state I have come to appreciate more and more. Go Caps, Go Bears!!!

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

@sidehillman
As a fellow Pennsylvanian, thanks for defending our integrity. We are not all Pens/Flyers fans. But you directed your reply to the wrong person...should be BOB not Boo. Boo is cool; Bob I'm not so sure about.

Posted by: tess | September 15, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Even Bob is not sure about Bob

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

About the "C", it encompasses much about leadership et al, but wearing a letter or NOT doesn't particularly dictate roles.

There are so many players who never wear a letter but still fill predictable responsibilities and IMHO, Ovie is fine with his at the present time.

When I played, diplomacy was a very important aspect in choosing our letter wearers and perhaps CC gushes it and Ovie admittedly needs more seasoning.

I totally agree Ovie is all team-first, so I'm pretty sure there are no issues about it at the locker room level. Again, just MHO.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | September 15, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

One does not necessarily have to have the "C" on your chest to be the Captain on a team. For many years Kolzig was the ipso facto captain of the Caps and he couldn't wear the "C". Maybe Ovie doesn't want the "C" just yet. When Ovie wants to take on that role he most surely will get the "C". I am sure Chris would gladly give up the "C" if Ovie said he wanted it.

You are supposed to be in "shape" when you get to camp. It is not like it used to be when you came to camp to get in shape. Dmitry Kugryshev looked like he was going to puke after the first set of "herbies" and he looked worse after each subsequent one. It really showed who was ready to make the next step in their development. I'm sure each of these guys were given some guidance on what to do during the summer when they came to development camp. Some guys got that message Alzner and couple of other guys and the rest found out what they need to work on.

I noticed several times on Sunday Bruce going over to several of the young defensemen and telling them what they did wrong when one of the forwards blew by them.

Posted by: Erin | September 15, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

A player can smoke 2 packs a day as long as he puts up numbers and plays well.

BB had better not lose touch, otherwise he'll be selling something very shiny on Ebay.

Posted by: Chief | September 16, 2008 12:08 AM | Report abuse

@Preston, Bob and Drinking Partner:

I wasn't at the practice, but all the same, I personally think that it's a poor idea to do exercise to the point of muscle failure during the first few days of any training camp. That level of fatigue this early in camp just begs for a groin/adductor injury. If every player came into camp in great shape, it wouldn't be a problem, but these are young guys, with, shall we say, "varied" training habits. I understand the desire to, "shake them up" a bit, but the risk of serious injury just isn't worth it. This goes double for any young players like Gustafsson that are nursing injuries.

Like I said in my previous post, I would be less upset if I didn't feel like the Caps had a track record of injuring their players early on in training camp.

As for getting them in shape, I'm by no means advocating getting rid of suicides, I just think that REPEATED suicides are not appropriate for the FIRST day of camp (and again, some of you have mentioned they weren't that bad). Far better to skate them hard, but within their limits, for a couple of days to get their muscles, ligaments and tendons used to moving at game speed again after a summer off. Then you destroy them without mercy. :)

I guess what I would like to see from the Caps is a recognition that, if the preseason workouts are hurting the players, maybe they need to change up your workouts. Instead, many coaches and teams think that injuring players in a practice should earn them a badge of honor. I would be really disappointed to find out that Boudreau belonged to that group.

Posted by: D'ohboy | September 16, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Big deal. Who wears a “C” in Pittsburgh? Crosby? It is Semin, who should be a captain in Washington – girls like him.
Who cares who is the captain when you have Ovie in the team…

Posted by: b | September 16, 2008 4:29 AM | Report abuse

sidehillman:
I was gonna say, what did I ever say about PA?!? Other than thinking that many Flyers fans are less than desirable, I don't think that all are, and certainly not all PA'ians (seeing as I was born in PA, it would not make a lot of sense for me to think that everyone from PA was a "jerk"). So while I may not care for the teams and some of the fans, I know better than to lump everyone from the state into that category. Glad you realized it was not me.

Tess:
Thanks for having my back!! :-)

Posted by: Boo! | September 16, 2008 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Who is going to Kettler on Saturday? I am deffinately planning on going. I work in Tysons Corner so I can't make it there during the week. I wish I could get to the rookie game.

Posted by: Tim | September 16, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

@D'ohboy
Bruce has had winning teams at every level that he has coached. He knows what he's doing. Calm down.

Posted by: tess | September 16, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

D'ohboy: if the rookies took the "summer off" then they deserved to be destroyed.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I was a little surprised to read that the herniated disc would take two years to heal completely. Hopefully Anton is back out on the ice today.

I don't have a problem with the herbies. I think it speaks volumes that one of the only players who passed the "test" has captained the Canadian WJC team and is the most likely of the group to start with the Capitals. Alzner has been working on his conditioning and showed up prepared. Its a good lesson for the others and a reason why a lot of people expect Alzner to grow into a leadership position in the NHL some years down the road.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | September 16, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Anyone know if Feds is in town yet?

Posted by: Grape8 | September 16, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

One interesting observation from yesterday. Did Ovechkin REALLY need his name on the back of his sweater?

Posted by: OleMiss | September 16, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Have you been to Kettler? Almost everything there has OV's name on it already. He probably just grabbed the first jersey he saw and what do you know it said Ovechkin.

Posted by: Bob | September 16, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Don't all the practice jerseys have their names on it? I can see why the rookies dont have their names on it because they dont know which ones will make the team.

Posted by: Tim | September 16, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

@Usually Frustrated Caps Fan
I'm not saying that semin insn't good. I'm saying that he doesn't work hard on the ice. He doesn't backcheck and doesn't try that much. I do, however, think that he's good. I just think if he tried harder he would be one of the top players in the nhl. Semin has one of the best releases in the nhl.

Posted by: Thomas | September 16, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

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