Capitals’ Training Camp notes
A unanimous sigh of relief is coming from Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, Maryland, the site of the Washington Capitals’ 1997 training camp. No injuries. Yet. Any hockey fan with a decent memory knows the significance of those three words. Injuries last year, a matter of nearly 370 man-games lost, played a key role in ending the Caps’ 14 straight playoff appearance record. This year management started with a clean slate, literally, and a positive outlook going into camp; they’ve been riding high on that attitude because everyone is staying injury-free. Besides that, rookies and veterans alike have all been giving a 110 per cent and the Capitals should be able to put together an impressive squad this year that will give any team run for their money.
Heeyyy there Boo-Boo, Yogi’s going for the Calder this year!! Rookie stand-out Jaroslav (Yogi) Svejkovsky continued his impressive play from last year’s season finale (4 goals against Buffalo) earning him comparisons to speedy winger Peter Bondra. While that is most likely premature, there is some merit to the statement. Yogi is the best pure goal scorer the Caps have had in the system since Bonzai as well as a excellent all-around player. The Capitals are in great need of his offensive weapons–soft hands, good hard shot, excellent instincts–but they love the fact that the Svejkovsky’s added 15 pounds of muscle to his 6-2, 200 lbs frame and improved his conditioning. Yogi plays his game in tight around the crease and he needs the grittiness factor to survive as a crease monkey. His confidence on and off the ice is worth taking notice of. “I’m supposed to be a goal-scorer so that’s what I have to do. My job is to go there, play good, score goals.”
Baumgartner, one of the most heralded defensemen to come out of the Western Hockey League, has shown a tremendous work ethic and commitment with his successful from consecutive shoulder surgeries. A offensive defenseman that can QB the power play, he is a future captain with excellent skills defensively as well. Watch for him to be with the Capitals full time this season, especially if things don’t work out with Sergei Gonchar.
Here’s a breath of fresh air among the sea of whiny players refusing millions of dollars– University of Minnesota junior Mike Anderson spent $2000 out of his own pocket to take part in the Capitals training camp. That’s right, he paid to play. He wanted to remain eligible to play for in the NCAA, which he would have forfeited had he not paid, and said the experience was well worth it.
This could be the year the Caps finally become a serious threat. Finally some offensive stars to take the weight of Bondra’s shoulders, excellent defense, (as always) some pretty good goaltending in Bill Ranford and Olie Kolzig, as good a coach that you can get and a new building. Out with the old, in with the new.