Alex Ovechkin makes 10-year-old fan’s wish come true on dream date

Adam Proteau
Alex Ovechkin (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin has made a lot of fans based on what he does on the ice. But this weekend, he did something off of it that is sure to endear him to people beyond the Washington Capitals’ fan base.

Following through on a promise he’d made to a 10-year-old Capitals fan weeks earlier, Ovechkin arranged to meet with her several times Sunday: first before the team’s practice, then before their pre-season game against Carolina, and finally, for a sushi dinner after the Caps’ 5-2 win. See photos of their time together here, and video here.
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Canes lose Jeff Skinner to another concussion – and NHL’s cannibal mentality continues

Adam Proteau
Jeff Skinner (Gerry Thomas/NHL via Getty Images)

For a few years, Carolina left winger Jeff Skinner has been one of the game’s more marketable up-and-coming players – a photogenic, well-spoken young man whose on-ice skills can be a difference maker.

That is, when he’s well enough to play the game. Unfortunately for Skinner, he’s involved in a game where headshots are still far too acceptable, and athletes’ health far too negotiable. That’s one of the reasons why Skinner has lost parts of two of his four NHL seasons to concussion-related injuries – and now will miss parts of a third straight year for the same reason. The Hurricanes are poorer for it, the league is poorer for it – and Skinner is poorest for it, both now, as an athlete unable to perform, and later, as his cognitive abilities are threatened further into his lifetime.

In the two years Skinner has been healthy, he’s averaged 32 goals and nearly 59 points per season. But he lost 16 games to a head injury in his sophomore campaign, and another five games to a concussion in February of 2013. Now, he’s sidelined indefinitely with another concussion after this blatant headshot Sunday from Washington’s Matt Niskanen:

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Niskanen’s brutal elbow on Skinner is grounds for suspension

Jeff Skinner (Gerry Thomas/NHL via Getty Images)

As if the pre-season hadn’t been horrid enough for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Raleigh squad already lost Jordan Staal to a long-term injury when he broke his leg in an exhibition game and now there’s concern over 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner, who was walloped by Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen in the opening minutes of the Canes’ final tune-up. Here’s the play in question:

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Jarred Tinordi ejected for clean hit – but don’t be mad, Canadiens fans

Adam Proteau
Jarred Tinordi (Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

We’ve known for some time the NHL is at a crossroads when it comes to concussions and protecting the heads of players. In the past – and in putting the sport ahead of those who participate in it – the league has had a default position of giving aggressive players the benefit of the doubt on borderline actions. But maybe things are starting to change for the better. And that’s because we’re starting to see the other side of that spectrum: referees making headshot-related calls that err on the side of caution.

Such was the case Sunday night, when Canadiens defenseman Jarred Tinordi was ejected in the third period of Montreal’s game against Washington after he hit Capitals forward Nate Schmidt at the Habs blueline:

Although some argued Tinordi’s hit was dirty, closer examination – at least, by this viewer – shows Tinordi hit Schmidt cleanly. Read more

Washington Capitals unveil Winter Classic jersey – what do you think?

Washington's Winter Classic 2015 jersey. (Courtesy the Washington Capitals)

The 2015 Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015 will be at Nationals Park and played between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks.

Today, the Capitals released what their jerseys would look like for the big event. What do you think of the look? (All photos from the Washington Capitals. The last one is photoshopped to show the ‘C’ and the Winter Classic logo)

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Top 10 Art Ross Trophy candidates for 2014-15

John Tavares (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

In the 21 seasons between 1980-81 and 2000-01, a total of three players won the NHL scoring championship. Perhaps you’ve heard of them – Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

In the 12 seasons since then, nine players have won it and nobody has taken home the Art Ross Trophy in successive seasons. We at thn.com predict that trend to continue. And if our crystal ball isn’t defective, there will be another first-time winner this season.

With that in mind, here are our top 10 choices for the Art Ross Trophy in 2014-15, in descending order. Read more

Agents scratching their heads over Ryan Johansen’s contract demands

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operation, John Davidson, sounded off last week over the Ryan Johansen imbroglio, he backed up his stance by saying, “There are agents that can’t understand it.”

We at thn.com thought we would put that theory to the test. And if our sampling of conversations with 10 prominent agents is any indication, unfortunately for Johansen and his agent Kurt Overhardt, Davidson is right. There are a good number of player agents out there who can’t understand the stance Johansen and Overhardt have taken. (Last week, we spoke to 10 GMs for their views on the stance the Blue Jackets have taken.) Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Washington Capitals

The Hockey News
Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 38-30-14

Acquisitions: Kris Newbury, Tim Kennedy, Chris Conner, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Justin Peters

Departures: Tyson Strachan, Mikhail Grabovski, Joel Rechlicz, Jaroslav Halak, Tom Poti

Top five fantasy players: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Joel Ward, Mike Green, Marcus Johansson

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: A leaky defensive team went out and made big moves to rectify the situation, beginning with the hiring of coach Barry Trotz, the former Nashville bench boss. He’s been teaching staunch systems for years, and his new troops in Washington are intrigued by what he can instill. He’ll have a couple new assets on the back end in free agents Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, who both swung over from Pittsburgh. So right off the hop, the Capitals are much deeper on defense, with Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Mike Green still in the fold. Read more