Preseason Woes Give Way To Surprises.
BY: SETH KEGGINS
September 24, 2002
Washington, D.C. – A difficult decision for new Caps head coach Butch Cassidy was made this past weekend, after consecutive preseason games. Since the beginning of training camp, Capitals prospects and players were told that all roster spots are open. Players such as Glen Metropolit, Colin Forbes, Ivan Ciernik, Chris Corrinet, and Matt Pettinger (just to name a few) were all battling to make the big club. Throw into the same mix prospects and newly drafted players; Owen Fussey and Boyd Gordon were also vying for a spot on the Caps offense.
“There are some kids in Portland who have played well down there, and they’re going to get a chance”, says Cassidy. And they did, over a span of intra-squad scrimmages and three exhibition games against the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, and Pittsburgh Penguins. “To me, maybe it’s my background where I spent a lot of time out there [in the minors], but I believe in rewarding and maybe throwing a bone and not just saying, ‘He has no chance.’ Let’s find out what they can do”.
Unfortunately, chances ran out on Sunday for several players attending the Capitals training camp. Even with the expectations of Zubrus and Nikolishin not being signed any time soon, players were returned to their respective teams. Trent Whitfield, Colin Forbes, Chris Corrinet, Graham Mink, Mark Murphy, Mel Angelstad, Roman Tvrdon, and Krys Barch were all returned to Portland, and newly signed Owen Fussey was returned to his junior team (Calgary Hitmen). Left behind are Glen Metropolit, Ivan Ciernik, Mike Farrell, and 2002 draft pick Boyd Gordon.
Ivan Ciernik, a forward who has played for Cassidy in the past, has been regularly playing on a line with Robert Lang and Peter Bondra.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to play with those guys. They always make some good plays and passes”, says Ivan, “That’s how I’m used to playing so it’s good for me to play with them. The coach has given me a good chance so I want to play my best.”
But he has yet score. Glen Metropolit has also been fighting for a roster spot and if for some reason Ciernik becomes complacent, Metropolit will be there to swoop in on the roster spot. Glen has scored one goal thus far in the preseason, and has been occasionally playing with Lang and Bondra as well.
An important part of making a good impression, is making a good showing each and every time out on the ice. “I think if you add up training camp,” said Cassidy, “and the game, I think a guy like Mike Farrell [has] really been good for us, every time out.”
Mike Farrell is a big surprise on the offensive scoring sheet thus far with two goals. This is why Mike Farrell has won a roster spot over players such as Chris Corrinet, Graham Mink, and Colin Forbes. Farrell has showed up in each game he has played in the preseason and he has outplayed several players trying to make and earn a jump into the NHL. “I think that Coach Cassidy kind of laid it on the line,” said Farrell. “He said that some of us aren’t going to be here in three weeks [and staying true to his word]. We took that to heart.”
Another player that is taking that to heart is 2002 draft pick Boyd Gordon. Gordon has looked like a swift skating veteran on the ice, grinding and winning battles along the boards. Boyd has been playing mainly on the 3rd and 4th lines, and has certainly excelled (for only being 18). Don’t be surprised to see Gordon last through the first several games during the regular season. However, Gordon has yet to accept an initial contract offer from the Washington Capitals.