Well, wish I could say the end of the year was going well for me. I wrecked my car so I’m holed up for awhile until either my car is fixed or I somehow get a new one. I guess with the new year fast approaching, we should do a quick retrospective on a lot of the events that have occurred here in DC with sports over the last year or so.
On Field/Court Moment of the Year
There were some that could take this spot, Ovie’s brilliance, Wall’s emergence, DeAngelo Hall’s fumble return. But one moment above all others took the cake. Stephen Strasburg’s 14 strikeout, no walk debut in seven innings of work sent chills up and down the spines of any DC sports fan this year. Despite his season being cut short because of Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has given this area reason to believe that baseball will soon be relevant in Washington, D.C and that the Navy Yard metro stop will have a sharp increase in attendance when Strasburg makes his return, seemingly in 2012.
Biggest Surprise (Good)
The Washington Wizards Winning the NBA Draft Lottery. Not just days after Ted Leonsis took over the franchise from the Pollin’s, the Wizards got their best news in years with winning the Overall #1 pick at the NBA Draft Lottery. John Wall, when he has been on the floor, has been the kind of player that the Wizards have long needed with a point guard. But his injuries can be a concern. But from what we have seen of Wall so far, he just needs to adjust to the NBA style of play before he wrecks himself.
Biggest Surprise (Bad)
Mike Shanahan benching Donovan McNabb, not once, but twice. Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that it would have been the COACH and not the Owner who was pulling a power play. But twice this season, he has benched highly respected quarterback Donovan McNabb, which the Redskins spent two draft picks on, for Rex Grossman. Now I have personally been quite critical of Shanny’s handing of this, and I think maybe we made a mistake of bringing this guy in. There’s a reason this coach hasn’t won a playoff game since John Elway retired.
Biggest Gut Punch
With no doubt the biggest gut punch especially to myself and Mike, was The Washington Capitals losing to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. The Capitals last year looked like a team that could not be stopped. Absolutely steamrolling the competition in the Southeast Division, and winning the Eastern Conference by 18 points. In addition, the Presidents Trophy was theirs as well pretty easily. So what happens when they hit the playoffs? They fall flat and lose in 7 games to Montreal. I was watching this and my rage was enough that I wasn’t really nice to anyone for a few days after that. But thats in the past and we just have to wait and see what 2011 holds for all of us.
Rant of the Year
LaVar Arrington had this for awhile when he responded to Clinton Portis not long after the Super Bowl. But after the shellacking that the Redskins got at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football Chad Dukes unleashed the fury if you will, letting the pent up frustration that has built up in Redskins fans for almost a full generation that has seen all of 3 playoff appearances, 2 playoff victories, and 1 division title since winning Super Bowl 26. If you haven’t heard it already, go and listen to this now.
This is all I have for now, if Mike wants to chime in with some of his, he’s more than welcome to talk about it.
In a move many fans have been waiting for, the Caps finally got their veteran defenseman. The team has announced that GM George McPhee has traded forward Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Scott Hannan. Fleischmann, or Flash as he has become known, enjoyed his best offensive season last year, putting up 23 goals and 51 points for the President’s Trophy (best league record) winning Capitals. Yet, this season he has struggled to find that offensive game, scoring only 4 goals and 10 points in 23 games thus far. Hannan, who had to waive his no-trade clause for the deal to become finalized, has 6 assists in 23 games this season.
This deal makes a ton of sense for the Caps. Flash has great offensive talent. However, he has been inconsistent his entire career. Last season marked his best yet, but he has failed to maintain that pace through the start of this campaign, even being a healthy scratch due to his poor play. And I believe the play of rookie Marcus Johansson, which seems to improve every game, made this deal possible.
Hannan, 31, is a veteran defenseman who has been in the league for 11 seasons. He is a stay-at-home defenseman that will add physical play and help stabilize a blueline that has a ton of talent, but not a lot of experience. Before this trade, the only D-man with more than 400 games played was Tom Poti, at over 700. Hannan’s experience will benefit young D-men Karl Alzner and John Carlson, as well as take some of the pressure off of the young duo.
Contract-wise, both Flash and Hannan are UFAs at the end of the season. This move is to make the Caps a stronger contender this season, and if Hannan plays really well and the money is right, maybe the Caps make an offer come the off-season. Given the fact Hannan waived his no-trade-clause to come to the Caps, maybe he is willing to take less money to stay with the contender. All that being said, it’s this blogger’s opinion that Hannan is here just for this season to help win a Cup and let Alzner and Carlson develop. The plan is they will be ready to handle even more responsibility next season. The money saved can then be used to make a substantial offer to Alexander Semin.
I wish Flash the best of luck in Colorado. Hopefully that mile high air can help him find his consistency and he can put up some good numbers to cash in on his free agent status at the end of the season. I’d also like to welcome Hannan to D.C. and the best team in hockey. Let’s Go Caps!
After scoring a hat trick in the Capitals preseason opener, center Matt Hendricks earned himself an NHL contract. Brought to training camp on a tryout basis, Hendricks is coming off of a 56 game, 9 goal, 16 point campaign with the Colorado Avalanche last season. At age 29, Matt is hardly a young prospect anymore, but is widely regarded as an extremely hard-working player. The deal is for 1 year and is a 2 way contract. This move is for depth, as he is not likely to pry the 2nd line center job from Tomas Fleischmann or Marcus Johansson. Look for him to be a first call-up in case of injury or poor play by one of the 3rd or 4th line regulars.
The team also placed center Michael Nylander on waivers. Nylander has already cleared, which is no surprise, but this doesn’t affect the Caps since he is still playing for Jokerit of the Swedish League.
The team also announced that is has waived forwards Brian Willsie and Kyle Greentree.
According to AP reports. The Washington Wizards will be changing their uniforms for the 2011-12 basketball season. While this isn’t the full change that some of us wanted, by that I mean most folks wanted the name changed back to the Bullets, the change now to Red, White, and Blue means that both pro teams sharing the Verizon Center will be sharing the colors. So expect to see a lot of Red around Chinatown come Fall of 2011. Included with this is a possible mock up of the Wizards new unis that I found on basketball-reference.com. While I do like the colors on here, I do hope that the blue is swapped out for a red because we need to become a more memorable team and Red is among one of the most memorable colors.
In addition to this, I will be attending the Wizards ‘Midnight Madness’ event that will be held at the George Mason University Patriot Center on Monday September 27th with the doors opening at 11 p.m. I’ll do a write up on the event and hopefully get some pictures and or videos for it.
The Washington Redskins debuted a new coach, a new quarterback, and a new look at home on Sunday night against the hated Dallas Cowboys, and despite the score only being 13-7, despite Donovan McNabb only managing about 157 yards through the air on less than a 50 percent completion percentage, this team looked so much different both visually as well as perception wise.
The offense while not hitting on all cylinders seemed to be galvanized by McNabb’s leadership, and towards the end of the game Clinton Portis showed some flashes of the running back he was under Mike Shanahan. In addition to that, the defense looked so much more active than we have been seeing the last couple of years, the 3-4 look that they have been installing under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has their defenders flying around and put Tony Romo under a good deal of pressure the entire evening, and despite him throwing for 247 yards, he and the rest of the Cowboys could only manage 7 points against a defense that was without Albert Haynesworth for the majority of the game.
And..as for the holding penalty….well….I think the pic says it all
Bottom line is that the Redskins start out with a 1-0 record, but they have a tough Houston Texans team next week.
Shaone Morrisonn is now officially an ex-Cap, signing a 2 year deal with the Buffalo Sabres. While it was made clear that Caps management had no plans on re-signing him once the season ended, I never said never while he was still a free agent. Morrisonn had a decent 5 seasons in Washington, providing stability on the blueline while younger guys developed. He came to the Caps in 2004, in a deal that saw him and a 2004 1st round draft pick (Jef Schultz) acquired for Sergei Gonchar. Good luck in Buffalo!
In a move that some say (not me) may be related to Maxime Talbot of the Penguins trashing Ovechkin in an interview yesterday, the Caps, per Andy Strickland’s Twitter account, have acquired heavyweight D.J. King from the St. Louis Blues. Strickland is also reporting that King will sign a 2 year extension prior to the move being complete. No word on the return yet. While the move comes right after ”superstars like me” Talbot decided to remind people that he existed, I’m sure Ovechkin will have no problem leveling Talbot with the devastating checks he’s become known for. Therefore I believe this move was made by George McPhee to improve the toughness of the team for the entire season, not just the Pens season series. But it does add a nice storyline to the highly anticipated Winter Classic.
EDIT: The Caps send prospect Stefan Della Rovere back to the Blues. I envisioned SDR being a pest on the Caps 3rd line for many years once he developed. I hate to see him go, and kind of think that McPhee paid too much to get King for 2 years. Good luck in St. Louis, SDR!