<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Capital Games]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/capital-games http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:59:29 -0400 Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:59:29 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Relaxed RGIII Enjoying Training Camp, Happy With Team]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:30:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007332495_1200x675_313359939953.jpg Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III tells News4's Dianna Russini he is having fun at training camp and feels good about the team.]]> <![CDATA[Caps' Trotz Discusses Lineup Construction]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:36:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/194*120/478767155.jpg.jpg

As the hockey wasteland that is August approaches, starved fans are scrounging for any morsels of information they can sink their teeth into.

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz provided plenty of tasty tidbits in an interview with NHL.com's Dan Rosen on Tuesday, offering a window into his thought process regarding how Washington's lineup may look come October. 

As has become customary in these parts, the position of second-line center is once again vacant following the departure of Mikhail Grabovski, who signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the New York Islanders earlier this month. With roughly $1.1 million in available salary-cap space, the in-house options are really the only options.

General manager Brian MacLellan previously offered Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Brooks Laich as potential replacements. Trotz recently told CBC's Elliotte Friedman that "the third linemate with Ovechkin/Nicklas Backstrom probably depends on who becomes the second-line [center]."

For the past two seasons, that third linemate has primarily been Johansson, who spent 56.2 percent and 54.2 percent of his 5-on-5 ice time with Ovechkin and Backstrom last season, respectively. (In 2012-13, Johansson spent roughly 72 percent of his ice time with the Capitals' superstars.)

Yet Trotz envisions starting the 23-year-old at center. With Johansson, Kuznetsov and potentially 2013 first-round pick Andre Burakovsky (whose "outstanding" performance at center -- a position he was largely unfamiliar with -- during this month's development camp impressed the higher-ups), Trotz is hopeful that Washington will boast formidable center depth.

"I'm going to let them play it out," Trotz told Rosen. "We're going to try to get the best three up the middle in terms of the people who are really good at distributing the puck and making things happen from the middle of the ice....I'm going to let them play through the camp, but my vision is that Johansson will play in the middle and Kuznetsov or Burakovsky will play in the middle and one will have to move to the wall. In today's game, the more options you have the better off you are.

"The center-ice position is where I'm going to focus a lot of attention. I think we're going to be a lot deeper through the middle of the ice then I even expected."

On the wings, Trotz foresees a more prominent role for Tom Wilson, who was utilized exclusively in a fourth-line role as a rookie. The bruising Wilson is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a fractured left fibula, but Trotz expects him to be ready for the start of training camp in September.

"When I first talked to [MacLellan], when we both got hired, one of the things I said is based on watching him play and seeing where he is, he needs to move up the lineup," Trotz said of Wilson. "He's got a lot of the qualities of a Milan Lucic-type player, a power forward, physical, but he has the ability to get around the ice and the ability with the hands to do something. I can see him moving up the ladder....Down the road I think he's going to be a top-six forward. I think he's a guy that's going to move up really quickly."

The shuffling of the center depth chart will also push Eric Fehr, who mostly centered the third line last season, back to his natural wing position.

Fehr is an intriguing option to join the first line. He has had success playing opposite Ovechkin, though in a limited capacity. Since 2010 (excluding a one-year stint with the Winnipeg Jets in 2011-12), Fehr and Ovechkin have played 174:29 of 5-on-5 time together while controlling 56 percent of shot attempts

Regardless of how Trotz ultimately constructs his lineup, he has several options to toy with when the Capitals reconvene for training camp in roughly six weeks. 

"Through Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer -- one of them might have to play on the top line -- Kuznetsov, Johansson, Burakovsky, Fehr, I think we can probably establish a pretty good second line," he said. "If we can do that the depth of the third line will be very good too."

In the mean time, Trotz's thoughts have left the rest of us playing what he has been known to call "fantasy hockey," a welcome distraction from the midsummer doldrums. 

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[D.C. Lawyer Elected as NBPA Executive Director]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:55:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/636271.jpg.jpg

The National Basketball Players Association has elected Washington-based trial lawyer Michele A. Roberts as its newest executive director, according to multiple reports.

Roberts, of law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, "has been called the finest pure trial lawyer in Washington, D.C. by Washingtonian Magazine." She also served for eight years in the office of the Public Defender Service for D.C.

“On behalf of the NBA, I would like to congratulate Michele Roberts on her appointment as the NBPA’s new Executive Director and look forward to working with her and the NBPA Executive Committee to ensure the continued health and growth of our game," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a release. "The partnership between our players and teams is the backbone of the league, and we are eager to continue working with the Players Association to build this relationship."

Roberts will be the NBPA's sixth executive director and first woman to hold the position. She replaces Billy Hunter, who was removed in Feb. 2013

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Skins Fan Turns Autographs Into Tattoos]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:08:57 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/205*120/159039408.jpg.jpg

Thousands of fans have attended the Redskins' first few training-camp practices thus far. Friday, a combined 8,600 people watched both sessions, while 6,668 came out for Military Appreciation Day on Sunday.

One of those fans was 41-year-old Charlie White, who has been collecting the signatures of all 22 starters...on his arm so that he can immediately have them tattooed.

"I believe in getting starters on my arm for a reason," White told ESPN's John Keim. "It's because I bleed burgundy and gold."

Sunday, White received autographs from defensive backs Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Santana Moss, as well as quarterback Robert Griffin III. 

As for the lady in his life, White's wife supports his ambition.

"She knows that between fishing and the Redskins, leave me alone," he said.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Russini in Richmond: RG3 Looks Good, Wins Praise]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:17:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/robert+griffin+fans.jpg

Hi Guys!

I cannot imagine how difficult it was for the players to wake up this morning. It was cool, rainy, and early -- the perfect sleeping weather!

Oh yeah, they also were in pads yesterday for the first time so their bodies are sore.

Coach Jay Gruden told me he expected the guys to look tired maybe even a little beat up but he thought they came out hungry to play. Coach says he wants all these practices to have 3 themes and that’s physicality, full speed action, and high pressure on this offense.

RG3 looked the best he has today as did Kirk Cousins especially on a play where DeSean Jackson met 2nd year corner David Amerson. Cousins dropped back and threw deep and high -- and found DJax.

The play pumped up everyone -- even the new Redskins receiver.

  • DeSean Jackson praised RG3 for his accountability. Robert appreciates his teammates standing by their quarterback.
  • Pierre Garcon gave me the best answer when I asked him if he was sore. "I'm use to it, I'm one giving out the physiciality.
  • Andre Roberts pointed out that many players that you wouldn't think are that good start showing their skills now that the pads are on. "Lot of people are good at flag football when you don't have pads on, its more physical with pads."
  • The Redskins have canceled Monday's second session practice.
  • The best news? No major injuries.

See you on TV at 6 and 11 on NBC4.


<![CDATA[Caps' Ward Provides Perspective On Trotz]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:46:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/201*120/187631356.jpg.jpg

By now, we are keenly aware that Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz has begun to foster a cultural shift within the organization, one built on structure, discipline and accountability.

It will be at least two more months when the team reconvenes for training camp in September -- perhaps longer -- until Trotz's vision and how the Capitals adjust to it can be tangibly seen. 

Yet there is one current Capital that has the ability to provide insight into how players function in Trotz's demanding environment: forward Joel Ward, who spent three seasons under Trotz with the Nashville Predators for three seasons (2008-11).

"Barry's just detailed," Ward said Saturday prior to an appearance at the Capitals' annual summer blood drive. "He's a simple, very detailed guy. He's a big family guy, great family. I think he's going to make sure that we're all very close together and closer as a unit on and off the ice.

"On ice, I expect us to be a lot more detailed, I think. You'll get a sense of that I think right away of guys having to do some homework at times. Again, it's going to be fun though. At the same time, it's going to be a hardworking team. From my years of experience in Nashville, we weren't the most talented I'd say on paper, but we always found a way of just being hardworking and earning our grit in points. I expect us to do that here."

Under former coach Adam Oates last season, the Capitals were frequently undercut by a lack of uniformity, leading to their exclusion from the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in seven years and Oates' dismissal in April.  Such aimlessness is not expected to continue with Trotz in charge. 

Ward lamented losing yet another coach (the third time that has happened since he arrived in Washington three summers ago), but he is eager to prove himself once again. 

“I was a little upset with the fact that we had to change coaches again,” he said. “You try to gain a rapport with one and you try to build off that. Again, it’s definitely a good sign to have somebody that I knew a little bit. Hopefully [Trotz] thinks I got better since then and we keep going from there.”

From a personal standpoint, Ward will attempt to improve upon a career season in which he set personal bests in goals (24) and points (49) while being entrusted with more responsibility.

The 33-year-old hopes to be paired with his "twin," forward Jason Chimera, with whom he developed undeniable chemistry last season after sharing 84.3 percent of his even-strength ice time with the speedy veteran. Even then, Ward does not intend to reconfigure his on-ice mindset.

"I think when you start worrying about stats and whatnot, then I think you might lose focus," he said. "I think the main thing for me is just going out there and trying to work hard."

For now, Ward will return to his native Toronto to prepare for the upcoming season, attending Blue Jays games and serving as his teammates' guide to Trotz in between. 

“I think now I’ve got to tell some guys a few things,” Ward said, laughing. “It’s definitely been a good relationship in the past and hopefully keep that going. Definitely I can always teach a few guys some of the tendencies and some of the things that we’ve done back in Nashville that I’m sure he’ll carry over.”

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Russini in Richmond: Putting on the Pads in Day 3]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:38:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/RedskinsFlag+.jpg

News4's Dianna Russini is in Richmond throughout Redskins Training Camp, and sending regular reports. Here's today's news from camp.

Hey Guys!

Day 3 of Training Camp here in Richmond and the shoulder pads are on! After months of running plays wearing shorts, the team finally is playing real football.

The best part, nobody is playing politely. The intensity, the tempo, the competition, everything has picked up. Right off the bat, you could feel the difference out on the field.

Robert Griffin III says they talked about it in the locker room, when the pads are on, that's when you find out the real football players. They can be very revealing.

It is the truth too, many players don't feel like "its real" until the pads are on. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall said he was actually a little nervous putting them on because he knows its time to start hitting. After the first couple pops, he says he was settled.

Rookie LB Trent Murphy told me he was a frustrated with some of his play (he also admits he's a perfectionist) but getting the first hit felt like cleaning off the dust.

Brian Orakpo calls it just another day in the office for him. He says when you are in the trenches all the time you always feel like you are in pads. DeSean Jackson also loves the idea of getting back to real football he calls it.

  • The best play in camp so far was DeAngelo Hall's pick 6. Robert Griffin III's throw to DJax on the right side cleanly intercepted by Hall.

After practice he told me he showed DJax a picture of a lion this morning with the quote "If you want to be lion you have to train with the lions" (You can look at my twitter @nbcDianna, DeAngelo tweeted me the picture.)

  • Ryan Clark wore his white game pants to practice. He was the only one. He told me that he's in game mode. He also tried to get the rest of the defense to do it but nobody would listen to him. He laughed and said his leadership needs to improve.
  • Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay is the most active person on the field. He never stops running around, talking, cheering, getting in player's faces. He's only 28 year old. He also always wears a long sleeve shirt...even in the heat. I'm interviewing him later and that will air Sunday night at 11:30pm.
  • Jay Gruden's wife was on the sidelines today, we will talk to her later today too about this experience as a first time, first tim head coach's wife

Photo Credit: File Photo ]]>
<![CDATA['Skins Fans Brave Downpours to Attend Camp]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:19:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/198*120/BtUCCHfCMAAo7a-.jpg.jpg

Football season is officially here as the Redskins' first practice of training camp is underway in Richmond. 

As camp kicked off at around 8:30 a.m., Richmond was enveloped by a steady stream of storms, leaving the uncovered masses soaking wet. No matter, though.  

Points for dedication. There were roughly 1,000 fans in attendance when camp convened.

You know, if you download the Storm Team 4 app for your phone, then you would know what to expect weather-wise as you migrate to Richmond. (Check's in the mail, right, Doug?)

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: @BrittMcHenry]]>
<![CDATA[Which Caps 'D' Should Run PP?]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:06:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/185770148.jpg.jpg

For all that went wrong for the Washington Capitals last season, the power play was once again a source of strength. Tbe Capitals converted 23.4 percent of their power-play opportunities last season, tied for the highest success rate in the NHL. 

Opposing teams have struggled to thwart Washington's 1-3-1 formation, choreographed by former coach Adam Oates and overseen by assistant coach Blaine Forsythe. In all, the Capitals have scored a league-leading 107 5-on-4 goals over the past two seasons.

The man advantage should become even more formidable next season with the respective arrivals of assistant coach Todd Reirden and defenseman Matt Niskanen from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have scored an NHL-leading 164 power-play goals since 2011 (and were the team which tied the Capitals atop the power-play percentage leaderboard last season).

Reirden will collaborate with Forsythe on the power play, and even with Oates having been replaced by Barry Trotz, it does not make too much sense to fix what it is not broken. 

Niskanen's addition provides the Capitals with three right-handed defensemen with power-play credentials, Mike Green and John Carlson being the others. In the interest of killing time during the midsummer doldrums, which defenseman should anchor Washington's vaunted power play?

Below is a chart documenting each player's power-play statistics during 5-on-4 play last season. A simplified explanation of the terms is underneath the chart. 

  Goals  Assists  TOI/G  PShr  SP  Shots  ON%  Shots/60  iFenwick/60
Green  3  11  2:45  51.9%  88  35  46.1%  11.77  18.498
Carlson  5  16  3:08  53.9%  95  69  56.6%  16.72  21.081
Niskanen  3  12  2:59  45.5%  73  51  47.2%  12.81  19.086

(All statistics courtesy of NHL.comExtraSkater.com and stats.hockeyanalysis.com)

  • TOI/G: Power-play time on ice per game
  • PShr (Point share): Percentage of on-ice goals player had a point on (goals, assists)
  • SP (Setup passes): Estimate of passes by player that directly resulted in a shot attempt
  • ON% (On-net percentage): Percentage of shots by player that hit the net
  • Shots/60: Shots on goal by player per 60 minutes
  • iFenwick/60: Shots on goal/shot attempts (missed shots) by player per 60 minutes

Based on the table, Carlson was the most productive of the trio, scoring the most points, having a hand in the most goals and generating the most accurate shot attempts. (Carlson saw significantly more time on the power play than Green -- 257:56 to 193:31. Niskanen totaled 242:26.)

Something to consider: Carlson was one of three defensemen last season -- Philadelphia's Kimmo Timonen and Detroit's Niklas Kronwall were the others -- to average at least three minutes of power-play ice time and shorthanded ice time per game. He was also on the ice for 65.2 percent of Washington's shorthanded situations last season, the highest percentage in the NHL.

Carlson will assuredly continue to play a integral role on Washington's penalty kill next season. If Trotz wanted to spell Carlson for a few minutes with the Capitals on the power play, then he has two viable alternatives in Green and Niskanen, neither of whom are typically relied upon to kill penalties.

At the risk of copping out, the Capitals have three capable defensemen who can contribute to the power play. They are in good hands with all three and it never hurts to have options.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nats' Barrett Wins National Anthem Standoff]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:29:48 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/Screen+Shot+2014-07-23+at+8.10.22+PM.png

Prior to the Nationals' afternoon game against the Rockies on Wednesday, Washington pitcher Aaron Barrett and Colorado outfielder Brandon Barnes had an old-fashioned standoff following the National Anthem.

The stalemate lasted several minutes as Barrett was fanned and hydrated by teammates. Jerry Blevins applied sunscreen on his fellow pitcher's neck. First base coach Tony Tarasco delivered an animated pep talk. 

Barnes suggested a game of rock-paper-scissors to crown the victor, but Barrett had none of it. With Denard Span in the batter's box to lead off the game, Barnes blinked first, leaving Barrett the exuberant winner.

“The umpire looked at me and was like, ‘If there’s a pitch and you’re still there, you’re gone,’ ” Barnes told the Denver Post.

“It was a big win for the team,” Barrett told The Washington Post. “They were getting pretty serious behind me. He wanted to do Rock, Paper, Scissors for the end. The guys were like, ‘You better not lose.’ I didn’t want to hear the wrath of the team if I would have lost. Why not? It was fun. It was good camaraderie.”

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: MLB.com]]>
<![CDATA[Zimmerman Out With 'Substantial' Hamstring Strain]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:20:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/218*120/452542696.jpg.jpg

Not long after he returned from missing 44 games with a fractured thumb, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has once again landed on the disabled list, this time with a "pretty substantial" right hamstring strain. 

Zimmerman had been on a tear at the plate, hitting .362 with six doubles and two home runs in July. He injured himself Tuesday against the Rockies sprinting up the first-base line.

The Nationals have been a much better team with Zimmerman than without. Washington is 33-19 when he starts and now 22-25 when he does not after a 6-4 loss to Colorado Wednesday.

"You don't ever want to see that happen to any of your teammates," Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche told reporters. "But a guy who has battled back from one injury and is a core piece of your lineup, that stings a little more."

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What to Watch at Redskins Camp]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:51:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/205*120/186338485.jpg.jpg

Last season, the Redskins followed their NFC East championship in 2012 with a 3-13 record, their worst in nearly 20 years. The final weeks were marred by the deterioration of quarterback Robert Griffin III and coach Mike Shanahan's relationship, ultimately culminating with the latter's dismissal in December.

Yet training camp, which begins Thursday morning in Richmond, provides an opportunity for the team and fans alike to hit the proverbial "refresh button."

A new coach in Jay Gruden, a new offensive weapon in wide receiver DeSean Jackson and a healthy Griffin all provide fans with a modicum of hope. A 0-0 record never looked so good. 

Washington's season opener is less than two months away (Sept. 7 against Houston, to be exact), so consider this a primer of what to pay attention to at camp and in the upcoming weeks. 

All In For Weeks 1-16?

The motto of last summer's training camp was "All In For Week 1," a clever marketing campaign trumpeting the eventual return of Griffin from knee surgery.

Griffin was true to his word, starting Week 1 against the Eagles after eight months of relentless rehabilitation following a gruesome knee injury.

Yet he was never really there last seasonHindered by a clunky knee brace, Griffin was not the dynamic player that captivated the NFL in his rookie season. By season's end, he was on the bench watching, shut down by Shanahan as backup Kirk Cousins mercifully ended what was left of 2013.

Once seemingly impervious to criticism, everything about Griffin -- from his mechanics to his personality and leadership capabilities -- were nitpicked.

There have been no flashy catchphrases this summer (remember "Operation Patience"?). Griffin has kept himself out of the spotlight as much as someone of his stature possibly can. He will have the knowledge of Gruden (a former quarterback in his own right) at his disposal, as well as a stout receiving corps bolstered by the arrival of Jackson, a former division rival in Philadelphia.

Jackson offers a big-play threat (he has caught 21 touchdowns of 30-plus yards since 2008, tied for the most in the league), while Pierre Garcon returns as a trusty target. Add in tight end Jordan Reed (if healthy) and Griffin has numerous options. 

It is up to RGIII, however, to prove that he can be an effective passer (his completion percentage dropped from 65.6 percent in 2012 to 60.1 percent last season and he threw seven more interceptions) and playmaker (he rushed for 326 fewer yards last season, though that was more knee-related). 

If the Griffin that instilled hope in a downtrodden fan base two years ago can make an appearance this season, an overall improvement will be a given. 


As the remnants of Shanahan's regime were removed from Ashburn, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett survived. 

That may have come as a surprise to some, considering Haslett's defenses have not been particularly stalwart during his tenure.

From ESPN Stats & Information:

During his tenure from 2010-13, the Redskins are cumulatively 29th in yards per play (5.75), 31st in yards per pass attempt (7.22), 21st in yards after contact (5,016) and 27th in points per game (25.2).

Those who regularly report on the team believe that the Redskins have too many holes on the defensive side of the ball. There are five likely starters, according to ESPN's John Keim, who are 30 or older. The Redskins' potential starting inside linebacker, Keenan Robinson, has 11 career tackles in two injury-plagued seasons. The secondary does not particularly inspire confidence either 

This should be obvious, but the Redskins have to tackle better as well. According to ESPN, "the Redskins allowed 756 yards after contact in the run game (23rd worst in the NFL) and 544 after contact by receivers (22nd worst) [last season]. They were 26th in the NFL for their combined yards after contact allowed." 

Meanwhile, the pass rush should improve in theory with the additions of defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and drafted linebacker Trent Murphy to aid Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. To be frank though, a lot has to improve in order for Washington to be taken seriously. 

Gruden's Way

Those in the know have seen nothing but positive vibes emanating from Gruden thus far. It is a vast departure from the aforementioned contentiousness between Griffin and Shanahan that enveloped the Redskins at the end of last season.

"Owner Daniel Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen believe that Gruden’s style, approach, youth and experiences as a former quarterback will help restore order in that coach-quarterback relationship," wrote Mike Jones of The Washington Post. "So far, Griffin has praised Gruden for his communication skills, leadership style and vision for himself and the offense. Gruden, meanwhile, has praised Griffin’s approach to the game and willingness to learn."

What to watch for is how Gruden, formerly the offensive coordinator of the Bengals, handles the added responsibilities of coaching an entire football team as opposed to simply running the offense. 

"What if there’s an issue with Griffin? What if the defense doesn’t produce and he thinks the Skins need to tweak their scheme? Will Gruden be able to make those hard decisions when necessary? In-game and in-season adjustments matter greatly, and Gruden has to prove himself in this area," Keim wrote. "He was not a unanimous hotshot choice to be a head coach, but the Redskins believed in him and thought he could handle the job."

Above all else, leading a consistent winner will be Gruden's primary objective. All concerns will be washed away if the Redskins are a competitive football team. 

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Redskins Training Camp: Everything You Need to Know]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:51:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20140218+DeAngelo+Hall.jpg

For most people, summer is the time to take a vacation -- but for D.C.'s football players, it's time to get serious. The Washington Redskins begin their training for the 2014 season Thursday ... and you’re invited.

The event is a great chance for Redskins fans to connect with the team, gear up for the coming football season and to take a break from the city. Check out our tips below to maximize your time at the event or to turn it into a weekend break.

Why Camp is Way Better Than the Regular Season

Training camp, the beginning of the pre-season for the Redskins, is when the team is put through its paces and the 53-man roster emerges. But it's also when the players take the time to meet with fans after their training sessions.

The public is invited to attend and can watch training exercises, including joint training with New England Patriots players on select days. There are also events, promotions and merchandise tents -- and best of all, admission is free.

Did we say free? Free.

Find the most up-to-date info on the Redskins site here.

How Do I Get to Training Camp?

The event is held at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center at 2401 West Leigh St in Richmond, Virginia.

Richmond is about two hours away by car. There are several parking lots for fans attending the camp, which cost $7 daily (cash only). The locations are all close to the Bon Secours Center, but a trolley shuttle will run between them for $2. The shuttle will run an hour before the first practice event and until an hour after the last. More information is available here.

No car? You can also take a bus for around $20 from Union Station or an Amtrak train, also from Union Station.

When Is Training Camp?

The event begins Thursday and runs through Aug. 11. Daily training is generally scheduled to begin at 8:35 a.m. and ends with a walkthrough at 4:10 p.m. Several days have special events or altered training times.

Fans are encouraged to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot (more on that below). Gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.

There is no training camp July 29, Aug. 3 and Aug 8. See more information on the schedule here.

How Can I Attend?

Attendance is free, but you will need to sign up for a Training Camp Pass on the Redskins site. Only one is necessary per family group. Signing up for a pass will also enter you into a drawing to win Redskins game tickets and merchandise.

Joint training sessions with the Patriots and Fan Appreciation Day are especially busy events. Passes for those events are provided via a lottery system on the above signup form.

However, attendance may be capped or changed on some other days, so check the Redskins site before you attend.

What Else Should I Know?


Expect a merchandise tent, games and fan competitions, as well as several on-site food outlets. The center also includes a park with walking trails.

The Women of Washington Redskins will host events geared toward female 'Skins fans, and obstacle fitness courses will help younger fans let off some steam in. The Redskins Kids' Club will also keep younger fans entertained.

Redskins players, cheerleaders and coaches will sometimes be available to sign autographs and meet fans after training events.


There are no bleachers available, so guests have the option to either bring lawn chairs and blankets, or to sit in the outdoor amphitheater that overlooks the practice fields.

Standing areas offer fans the chance to stretch their legs and view the events from different vantage points.


Animals are not allowed at Training Camp (except service animals), so they can't join you during the day.

But that doesn't mean your four-legged friend has to miss out on all the fun. Old Towne Pet Resort (in both Springfield and Dulles) is offering a Dog Agility Training Camp on July 26 to celebrate the Redskins Training Camp.

Special Days

On Aug. 4, 5 and 6, the Redskins will be joined by the New England Patriots for joint training sessions. Fan Appreciation Day is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 2 at 10:30 a.m.

What to Bring

Bring a cooler with food and non-alcoholic drinks if you want to picnic during camp. Alcohol, glass bottles and video cameras are not allowed at the event.

How Can I Make Training Camp Into a Mini-Vacation?

Richmond is a city steeped in history and famed for its museums, art and monuments. If you're excited about the Redskins Training Camp but need a break, the city could provide a great day trip or weekend getaway.

Where to Stay

If you're planning on staying the night, you have plenty of options throughout the city, including quaint bed and breakfasts as well as budget-friendly chains.

There are three possibilities within a few blocks of the training center. The cheapest is the Comfort Inn Conference Center Midtown about four blocks away, but there are also two bed and breakfasts nearby for a little more luxury. Maury Place at Monument and Grace Manor Inn both have five-star ratings on TripAdvisor.com.

Elsewhere, there are dozens of hotels in downtown Richmond, the Fan District and Shockoe Slip, all of which are within easy reach of the training center. Downtown offers dining and shopping, while the two latter neighborhoods are historical areas with great sightseeing opportunities.

How to Get Around

Driving is the easiest way to get to Richmond and to get around the city, but there are public transportation options available if you want to leave the car at home.

The Greater Richmond Transit System runs an extensive bus service that should get you to all of the city's attractions.

The closest bus stop to the training camp is to the west on North Boulevard Street at the intersection of West Moore Street, which is served by the 24 bus route. However, to the south, West Broad Street is served by several routes, including the 1, 2, 3, 6, 19 and 24 routes, Check out the schedules and routes here.

Where to Eat

The Magpie and Lunch two of the highest-rated Richmond restaurants on Yelp.com, and both are only a short walk away from the training center.

But to get into the spirit of football and tailgating, there are also several barbecue joints nearby. The most popular of those with Yelp users are Gus' Bar and Grill and Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue.

Where to Drink

If you're hoping to wash down a day of football with a beer at a sports bar, you'll have to go a little further afield. The Home Team Grill is a local chain that offers a location in the nearby Fan District, and is the closest sports bar to the training center.

If the Redskins excitement gets to be a little too much and you find yourself in need of a pick-me-up, try Sugar Shack Donuts just a short walk away on North Lombardy Street that offers coffee and donuts.

And if you do decide to stay the night in Richmond, why not make it a memorable experience? Infuzion is the club closest to the Redskins event, but there are also two bars nearby: Strange Matter, an arcade/music venue hybrid, and Empire, a lounge and indie bar. Both are a few blocks away, just off West Broad Street.

There are also several clubs in downtown Richmond. Some of the most popular are The National, a concert venue and club; Barcode, a gay bar and club; and Kai, a dance club.

What Else to Do

The Bon Secours Training Center is located just behind the Science Museum of Virginia and the Children's Museum of Richmond, making it an ideal location to entertain the family away from the field.

The Hardywood Craft Brewery is also just a block away, and yes -- they offer tours.

Depending on the length of your stay, there are plenty of other things to see and do a little further out.

For some more sports-related fun, the home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels minor league baseball team is a short walk away on North Boulevard Street. If you'd like to catch a game, see their schedule here.

The Richmond Kickers soccer team also plays just a little further away at UKROP Park on West Broad Street. Their schedule is available here.

Richmond is a city with a long and fascinating past, and it is home to some of Virginia's most treasured historical landmarks. If you plan to take in some of that history, consider visiting Maymont Park, The American Civil War Center, Richmond National Battlefield Park and The Virginia War Memorial. There are many other sites worth visiting too.

For a break from football, try the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or tour the famous Hollywood Cemetery, which is the resting place of presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as many other historical figures.

For something that takes a full day, though, you might want to consider Kings Dominion, which is only about 30 minutes north of Richmond by car. There is also an express bus service that runs there several times daily from downtown Richmond.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Arby's Gives RGIII's Parking Space to LaVar Arrington]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:36:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/arbys+parking+spot+reserved+for+lavar+arrington.jpg

Robert Griffin III lost his reserved parking spot at the Arby’s across the street from Redskins training camp in Richmond, but it’s not because of anything the star quarterback did.

The sign reserving the spot for RGIII last year included the official team logo, so Redskins lawyers politely asked owner Dean Kovanes to remove it.

In its place, a new sign reserving the spot for “Redskins great LaVar Arrington.”

“Being an Ohio State fan, he terrorized the Big Ten for many years [while playing for Penn State] and he's one of my favorite Redskins, so we just figured, Hey, if LaVar's in town, come on in and have a couple beef and cheddars,” Kovanes said. “We'd love to see you. You got your spot right here.”

Kovanes senses an annual tradition starting.

“We try to kind of have fun with it, and people through the year going, ‘Are you going to have a new sign this year?’ and of course we are,” he said. “We're going to have a new one for the Patriots, maybe.”

And he’s accepting suggestions for next year.

“If any Redskins fans have any ideas for next year, please let me know,” he said. “We'll be glad to use it if it's a good one.”

Training camp starts Thursday. News4 and NBCWashington.com will have extensive coverage.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Wizards Unveil Alternate Uniform ]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:57:48 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/cdn.mse.psddev.jpg

This post will serve as my first foray into fashion, as the Wizards have unveiled an alternate uniform that they'll wear during the 2014-15 season (although no specific dates have been determined).

"The new jersey will be primarily navy blue with red color-blocking at the top and 'Washington' listed on the front while the navy shorts will feature the secondary 'Monument' logo," according to a release.

Personally, I would have preferred a third stripe for consistency with the home and road uniforms, but no one is paying me for my fashion advice, so I will leave it at that. 

The jerseys will be available for purchase Oct. 1. Will you pick one up?

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Washington Wizards]]>
<![CDATA[Desmond's 5-Hit Night Gets Nats to First Place]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:35:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/208*120/452500340.jpg.jpg

At hitter-friendly Coors Field on Monday, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond went five-for-five against the Colorado Rockies, driving in two runs and scoring three more for Washington's 7-2 victory.

Five hits tied a career high for Desmond, who became the ninth player this season to have five hits in-game while "batting 1.000," and the fourth to do so at Coors Field, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He last accomplished that feat in September 2011 against the Mets.

"I just look for the ball and swing as hard as I can," Desmond told reporters. Simple enough.

Even more important than Desmond's individual performance: The Nationals took over sole possession of first place in the National League East after the Braves lost to the Marlins.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Over Ovi: Kirilenko Calls Off Engagement to NHL Star]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:45:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007247410_1200x675_310549059772.jpg It's a rough off-season for Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. His former fiancee, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko, called off the engagement.]]> <![CDATA[Will 'Skins Change Name by 2016?]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:10:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/218*120/Screen+Shot+2014-06-16+at+8.46.51+AM3.png

Redskins training camp is upon us, providing us with more to talk about than the incessant debate regarding their name.

With a few days to kill before Thursday, however, here is the latest opinion on the matter from Sports Illustrated's Peter King in the "Ten Things I Think I Think" section of his MMQ B column:

7. I think the Washington franchise will have a new team name by 2016. 

That's it. A simple and informed opinion. 

Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a staunch supporter of a name change, predicted that the Redskins will indeed change their name within three years. Who knows at this point? 

What do you think? Could you be rooting for the Washington [insert name here] in two years? Do you care?

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Redskins Announce Training Camp Ticket Lottery]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:40:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/149308618.jpg.jpg

There's been such a demand for the Redskins' annual Fan Appreciation Day during training camp (Aug. 2) and the joint practices with the Patriots (Aug. 4-6) that the team will hold a ticket lottery.

Visit redskins.com/trainingcamp to enter by noon on Friday, July 25.

Winners will be selected randomly, and will receive an email Saturday, July 26 with the link to a printable ticket with a unique bar code.

According to a press release, "based on NFL best practices, an automated, random lottery system is the most fair way to distribute complimentary tickets which will guarantee access to these high-demand events."

Consider this your reminder. You do not want to get shut out and end up like this morose fan.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CBS: Use of 'Redskins' Up to Announcers]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:40:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/227*120/454303363.jpg

As the NFL season approaches, the operatic saga involving the Redskins and their polarizing nickname is still very much ongoing. 

Newspapers throughout the country have already decided not to print "Redskins" in their publications, but what if "Redskins" was forbidden from being said during telecasts?

The Hollywood Reporter asked that question of CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, to which he replied thusly. 

"We haven't talked to them yet," he said. "Generally speaking, we do not tell our announcers what to say or not say. Up to this point, it has not been a big issue for us. Last year, it was simmering; now it's reaching a hotter level. But we probably will not end up dictating to our announcers whether they say Redskins or don't say Redskins. We leave that up to them and our production team.

"There are times when something becomes important enough that we talk to them, and between now and the start of football season we'll decide what is the right thing to do."

For what it is worth, the Redskins have four games airing on CBS this season.  

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[RGIII Addresses NFL Health Concerns]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:33:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/225*120/490959031.jpg.jpg

With the Redskins about to reconvene for training camp next week in Richmond, it is about that time when everything Robert Griffin III says must be dissected and aggregated in blog posts. 

The latest nugget comes via The Hollywood Reporter, which interviewed the quarterback for its "Sports Issue."

Within, RGIII says that fellow NFL players are "concerned" for what Thursday games could mean for their health. CBS will air eight games on Thursday evenings this season. Meanwhile, the NFL has been served with concussion-related lawsuits from former players.

"There are a lot of players out there who feel like there are not enough days in the week for us to be playing on Thursdays," Griffin said. "It's something the NFL is going to have to address to make sure they're keeping their players safe while also trying to maximize their revenue."

Alas, Griffin did not comment on his team's polarizing moniker, which leaves me with space to fill. So here's a video.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marcin Gortat Learns How to Prepare a Sportscast]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 22:05:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GORTAT-on+cam+smile.jpg Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat told Dianna Russini he wanted to know what it was like to do her job, and she was more than happy to give him a shot.]]> <![CDATA[Marcin Gortat Reports on the Signing of Marcin Gortat]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 22:05:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Marcin+Gortat+Signs+Contract.jpg Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat wanted to know what it would be like to do Dianna Russini's job. This is the result.]]> <![CDATA[Wizards Lose Booker, Acquire Humphries]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 18:19:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/218*120/450650991.jpg

The Washington Wizards continued to reconstruct their roster Tuesday, reportedly acquiring forward Kris Humphries from the Boston Celtics after signing a three-year, $13 million contract, according to Yahoo Sports.

As noted in the report, the Wizards and Celtics were working to finalize a sign-and-trade to work Humphries' deal into the salary cap. Humphries, known more for his 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian, averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds last season for the Celtics.

Humphries will replace power forward Trevor Booker, who left Washington after four seasons to join the Utah Jazz on a two-year, $10 million contract.

This past weekend, veteran Paul Pierce joined the Wizards on a two-year deal worth $11 million. Center Marcin Gortat also recently re-signed for five years. 

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wizards Player Marcin Gortat Visits News4]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:30:19 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GORTAT-on+cam+smile.jpg From basketball to broadcasting: Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat visited the News4 newsroom to try his hand at broadcasting.

Photo Credit: News4]]>
<![CDATA[Capital Letters: Is Grass Greener in Detroit?]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:36:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/203*120/4791551391.jpg

Welcome back to "Capital Letters," a sporadic feature where I answer any and all questions relating to the local professional hockey team.

No catchy lead-in this time. Let us get right to the questions. 

Seemingly within seconds of the Capitals' announcement that they had signed defenseman Matt Niskanen to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract two weeks ago, retrospectives of Mike Green's nearly decade-long tenure in Washington were being set to Sarah McLachlan

With eight defensemen under contract for a whopping $28,762,500, it seemed like a trade was inevitable and the most frequently mentioned destination was Detroit, where the Red Wings missed on every notable right-handed defenseman available in free agency (Niskanen, Dan Boyle, Anton Stralman). 

Why does being right-handed matter? Because the Red Wings deployed a defensive corps that was exclusively left-handed last season. That detail combined with his offensive inclinations and an expiring contract made Green very enticing to the Red Wings. Or at least to those who report on them, who have been pushing for his acquisition to the point that Green is "destined to be traded." 

I personally do not believe there is much to the "Green-to-Detroit" rumors, if anything at all. And If I am being asked to place a percentage on Green being traded at all this summer, then I am going to start at 30 percent. 

"We have not had any communication with Washington’s administration concerning Mike’s status," agent Don Meehan said in a July 3 email.

General manager Brian MacLellan and coach Barry Trotz have each insisted that the 28-year-old is in Washington's immediate plans (at least outwardly). He helps the team more than he hurts it, and it would be foolhardy for the Capitals to send him away before they have an opportunity to see how their bolstered defense works with him as a cog.  

Okay, so for the purpose of this exercise, I want you to forget everything I just said above. That should not be that difficult.

Let us indulge Andrés for a moment (and I want to preface this by saying that is completely speculative). There is one player that comes to mind that potentially fits the second-line center mold that could be pried away for the right price, which could include Green: Ryan O'Reilly.

The Colorado Avalanche center and Lady Byng Trophy winner is headed for an arbitration hearing later this month. Contract negotiations and O'Reilly do not seem to go together very well, considering the offer sheet fiasco with the Calgary Flames and his prior history of holdouts. Such a contentious relationship may require a change of scenery.

He is an effective player, leading Colorado with 28 goals last season, no small feat on a team laden with offensive talent. He struggled to push possession on a team that struggled to push possession (which since-departed center Mikhail Grabovski did better than any Capitals forward last season), but he would arguably be an upgrade over Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson as in-house second-line center candidates. 

O'Reilly is a responsible two-way player who committed one penalty in 80 games last season (and drew 16). In theory, he sounds like someone who would thrive under the tutelage of Trotz. Again, this is completely speculative, but intriguing nonetheless. 

To start, we can probably cut out any defensemen because that position is pretty much filled on the big club. The only player that I envision having a chance to challenge for a roster spot on opening night is forward Andre Burakovsky (which you can read more about by clicking this link to my NHL.com feature on the subject). 

Burakovsky had an impressive development camp last week, though one would hope that a player who scored 87 points in the Ontario Hockey League would impress playing against late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents. Of note, the 19-year-old winger lined up at center, an organizational directive that seemed to suit his style of play in the scrimmages.

“He’s played center when he was younger, but on the national teams,” assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said last week following the second scrimmage. “With the men, he played wing. You’re always trying to experiment and find out what the best position is for the players. Andre has obviously shown here in these two scrimmages that he’s able to play, not just the wing, but center with his intelligence and vision on the ice.”

Burakovsky is likely ticketed for the American Hockey League to start the season, but a spirited preseason performance could delay his arrival in Hershey, even if just for a few games.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Leonsis, Niskanen Discuss Caps' Orpik]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:39:57 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/197*120/485782267.jpg.jpg

Two weeks has apparently not been enough for the cynicism attached to defenseman Brooks Orpik's contract with the Washington Capitals to subside. 

A widely panned five-year, $27.5 million agreement has been more difficult for the Capitals to defend than the opposing players Orpik has been tasked with thwarting on a nightly basis.

General manager Brian MacLellan and coach Barry Trotz each praised the 33-year-old's intangibles, which factored heavily into Washington's decision to sign the former Pittsburgh Penguin. Those qualities, however, cannot be measured by advanced metrics, which suggest that Orpik's quality of play continues to decline

Such criticism has not sat well with owner Ted Leonsis, who authorized the contract and provided his own defense in addressing the media for the first time since Orpik joined the organization. 

“I hope you won’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t listen much anymore to what [the media says],” he said Saturday. “I think it’s your jobs, and I was a little disappointed that it’s not the right way to welcome somebody to a new team and a new city, a guy who has been in the league a long, long time. He’s a guy who has intangibles of leadership and he’s tough as nails and one the coaches and [MacLellan] respect very much. I think he’s a good player.”

Defenseman Matt Niskanen, who like Orpik migrated to Washington from Pittsburgh after signing a lucrative contract on July 1, has experienced first-hand the effect that Orpik can have on a defensive corps, particularly one as young as Washington's. 

“He’s a leader – that’s another element that people can’t ever see, just the guys in the room," said Niskanen, who also lauded Orpik's steadiness and dedication to nutrition. "He’s got a lot of experience – he’s been on bad teams and he’s been on championship teams and everywhere in between. So he knows what it takes – the chemistry, the work ethic, he knows what it takes to win and I think that will add a lot to our group and get us headed in the right direction.”`

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nats' Clippard Added to NL All-Stars]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 08:12:18 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/231*120/495481313.jpg.jpg

Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard was added to the National League All-Star team Sunday, replacing Atlanta Braves pitcher Julio Teheran.

It will be Clippard's second All-Star appearance. In 2011, he was the pitcher of record in the National League's 5-1 victory. 

With pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pulling out of the game with a bicep strain, first-place Washington was left without an active representative. 

“I was surprised,” Clippard told reporters after the Nationals defeated the Phillies on Sunday. “Obviously coming into the last day of the break expecting to go home and spend some days there. They said they needed a guy because Teheran was pitching today and I’m honored to do it. I feel like the Nationals need some representation there. Jordan wasn’t able to do it because of his bicep and I was afraid we might not have anybody in uniform out there. I’m just happy to go out there and represent our team and maybe get into a game and see what happens.”

Clippard is 6-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 40 innings so far this season. The game is Tuesday at Target Field in Minnesota.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Wizards to Sign Paul Pierce]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 07:01:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/187*120/478234769.jpg.jpg

The Washington Wizards have reportedly made a sizeable free-agent splash, committing to sign veteran forward Paul Pierce to a two-year, $11 million contract, according to ESPN.

Having failed to retain forward Trevor Ariza, who will reportedly sign a four-year, $32 million contract with the Houston Rockets, Washington moved fast to acquire a battle-tested veteran. Pierce, 36, spent last season with the Brooklyn Nets after 15 seasons with the Boston Celtics. The 10-time All-Star averaged 13.5 points in 28.0 minutes per game for the Nets, both career-lows.

ESPN reports that the contract has a player option that would allow Pierce to return to free agency next summer if he chooses. As the article notes, the short-term nature of the deal will provide the Wizards with an opportunity to pursue D.C. native and reigning MVP Kevin Durant when he becomes available in 2016.

Washington re-signed center Marcin Gortat to a five-year contract last week. With John Wall, Bradley Beal and Pierce (not to mention LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers), the Wizards could be favorites to win the Southeast Division.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Awe Factor' Remains for Caps' Carrick]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:03:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/204*120/183009506.jpg.jpg

As defenseman Connor Carrick whizzed around the ice during drills at the Washington Capitals' development camp Wednesday, nothing seemed amiss.

Forget that the 20-year-old unexpectedly made the Capitals' opening-night roster last fall, made his NHL debut in front of countless family members and friends in Chicago against the defending champion Blackhawks or scored his first goal in Washington's home opener two nights later.

The baby-faced veteran of 34 games fit right in among the prospects hopeful to make a lasting impression, knowing that he will have to do the same at training camp under a new regime led by coach Barry Trotz.

“Obviously things have changed a little bit here,” Carrick said. “It makes me even more excited to come back and get into it again. I cannot wait for camp. I am extremely excited.”

Carrick's advanced maturity is what stood out to management last season, but there is still a childlike sense of wonder within him, especially when discussing his dizzying rookie year.

Watching old game film, there was still an "awe factor" as he relived himself lining up behind Nicklas Backstrom during a faceoff or threading a pass toward a hard-charging Alex Ovechkin. 

“That is the Verizon Center. That is me," he recalled. "I feel like I would’ve had a better grip on it now, but it still feels very surreal.”

Those opportunities may not be as readily available next season. The Capitals' defensive corps underwent a $67 million renovation last week when former Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen joined the organization. Those additions will make it more difficult Carrick to crack the main roster again.

Yet as is his way, Carrick found an enormous opportunity in the smallest of places. 

“Maybe [Orpik] says something to you,” Carrick said as he envisioned skating alongside the 33-year-old during the preseason. “Same with Matt Niskanen. I think you have to be excited about those things.

“Whenever you add two guys of that caliber, your depth chart is going to look stronger, deeper. The team said it was going to go out and get defensemen and it did. They’re both great players, players I’ve looked up to watching games and playing against them. It comes back to me on a very personal level.” 

Perhaps Carrick would have been better off shuttling between Washington and its minor-league affiliate in Hershey last season as general manager Brian MacLellan pointed out upon his promotion in late May

Carrick, however, would not have changed a thing. 

“The thing about last year is, it’s over,” he said. “It’s not like I could go back and play more somewhere else or have a bigger role or play more with the Caps. You cannot get that time back. My opinion is, I know what I’ve learned. I learned some things the hard way, some things by being around those players every day. What I can confidently say is that if I were to choose playing elsewhere last year or having the experience I actually did, I am more confident with the latter going into camp.”

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bryce Weeps in 'Sportscenter' Ad]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:35:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/Screen+Shot+2014-07-10+at+11.04.56+AM.png

Earlier this summer, Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg pilfered frozen meals in a "Sportscenter" commercial. Even Teddy got into the act. (Pun probably intended.)

Now it is slugger Bryce Harper who has made his star turn on ESPN, his eye black running down his face after watching "Field of Dreams" with anchor Hannah Storm.

If you ask me, Harper is a better actor than a manager.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Washington Kastles Move to Smith Center]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:13:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Washington+Kastles+With+Trophy.jpg News4 Sports Anchor Carol Maloney talks to Washington Kastles Head Coach Murphy Jensen about their first match at Smith Center and the season ahead.]]> <![CDATA[Caps' Wilson Has Surgery On Left Leg]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 18:42:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/185*120/476153085.jpg

Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured left fibula suffered during what the team has only described as a "fall."

"At this stage the recovery is going well and he is likely to back on ice during [training] camp," his agent Mark Guy said in an email.

The 20-year-old was one of three NHL rookies to appear in all 82 of his team's regular-season games last season, scoring three goals and 10 points in a fourth-line role. Wilson participated in 14 fights and accumulated 151 total penalty minutes, fourth-most and seventh-most in the league, respectively.

The Capitals originally disclosed the injury as an ankle issue. Regardless, coach Barry Trotz is not concerned about Wilson missing significant time. 

"That's just part of sometimes training, part of just being a human on this planet Earth. You're going to get hurt, so it's unfortunate," said Trotz, who did not divulge the cause of the injury. "I was really excited about Tom having a real good summer and then coming into camp. He's young. He'll be, I'm sure, pushing it to be ready for the start of training camp. If he comes in a little bit late, then he'll have some catching up to do.

"I was really excited about him. He's going to be a really good player. He's one of those young players that you know you're going to enjoy coaching. He's young, he'll bounce back pretty good."

In other injury news, Trotz also expects defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who broke his left wrist during the IIHF World Championships and underwent surgery to repair it in late May, to be ready in September. Orlov played in 54 games for Washington last season. 

"He's probably right around training camp or just right into it," Trotz said. "Usually what I find, and just out of doing this for 17 years, is doctors have a time frame and they're very conservative timeframes. Realistically, on probably 90 percent of fhe time, the time frame is shortened.

"Their timeframes are for us mortals who aren't athletes and maybe as young. These guys train, their bodies are machines and they heal quicker. They've got more resources to do that, from trainers to rehab to all that. They seem to recover a lot quicker than the time frame, but I understand that we have to have a time frame and let's be on the conservative side all the time."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Grubauer Prepared To Continue Development]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 11:39:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/462696409.jpg

Shortly after the first session of the Washington Capitals' prospect development camp concluded Monday, goaltender Philipp Grubauer took the ice with goaltending coaches Mitch Korn and Olie Kolzig.

As Korn instructed, Grubauer skated laterally with powerful strides, all while gripping a medicine ball to work on his body control. 

After catching his breath, the 22-year-old, in town for the week to meet Korn and coach Barry Trotz, recalled his whirlwind 2013-14 season that saw him unexpectedly start 14 games and temporarily wrangle the starting position from Braden Holtby. 

"I didn't expect before I came up I would have played so many games," Grubauer said. "You've got to earn your net, you've got to earn your spot and you've got to play well. It shows in this league like if you don't have success, it can go downhill really, really fast."

Recalled Nov. 30 when former Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth suffered an injury stepping on a puck during pregame warmups, Grubauer earned his first NHL victory Dec. 8 against the New York Rangers. Beginning with that game, Grubauer started 14 of Washington's following 20 games, creating a three-man logjam in goal. 

He finished the NHL portion of his season with a 6-5-5 record, 2.38 goals against average and .925 save percentage.

"Even the first couple games, the first game I won was pretty amazing," Grubauer said. "Starting game after game after game was quite an experience, so I'm going to try to do the same thing this year or next year."

Despite Grubauer's emergence, general manager Brian MacLellan sought an experienced goaltender to back up Holtby, providing Grubauer with ample opportunity to continue his development as the No. 1 option with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. Washington signed Justin Peters, late of the Carolina Hurricanes, to a two-year, $1.9 million contract

Grubauer respected the organization's decision and is prepared to make an unscheduled appearance in Washington again if necessary.

"I got sent down my first year to the [ECHL], my second year, I got sent down to [ECHL] Reading, and even this year, if I get sent down, it's not always a bad thing," Grubauer said. "I learn my things out of that and you keep fighting through that and show the coaching staff here that you can do the job.

"Obviously, there's some things that I've got to develop and I think the coaching staff and management think the same way. Maybe it's not bad that I go back to Hershey because I play more than I probably would play here. I'm looking forward to this year and maybe I'm up here next year."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baylor To Unveil RGIII Statue]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:50:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/200*120/133531651.jpg.jpg

A statue of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will be unveiled outside of Baylor University's new McLane Stadium when it opens Aug. 31.

Griffin starred for the Bears and won the Heisman Trophy prior to being selected by Washington with the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The official pose of the 9.5-foot statue will not be revealed until next month, but Texas native Tom White, who created Griffin's likeness, traveled to Washington last April to take pictures of the quarterback.

"It's gonna be awesome," White told Fox Sports. "It's a great tribute to him and all his wonderful accomplishments."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blogger Hired by Redskins Resigns After 2 Weeks]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:40:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/218*120/Screen+Shot+2014-06-16+at+8.46.51+AM2.png

Roughly two weeks ago, the Washington Redskins hired Ben Tribbett, a liberal blogger and "known progressive figure in Virginia," to held defend their moniker as immense pressure to change it continues to build.

Their partnership is already over.

Tribbett -- who had helped to organize the recent "Redskins Pride" caucus in the Virginia General Assembly, as NBC12.com reported -- announced his intention to resign late Monday.

Perhaps his decision to step down from the 'Skins has something to do with some inflammatory remarks regarding Native Americans that he tweeted several years ago. What we do know is that the Redskins' attempts to put a positive spin on their nickname continue to fall short.

Before accepting the position with the Redskins, Tribbett had maintained a blog known as "Not Larry Sabato" for several years, shutting it down around the time he briefly joined the organization. 

In 2006, as WTOP noted, Tribbett broke the story of former Virginia Sen. George Allen (brother of Redskins executive Bruce Allen) referring to a Jim Webb volunteer by a word that some claimed was a racial slur.

Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians executive director Jackie Pata released a joint statement after the announcement:

"The growing opposition to the team's name is about far more than any one person. It is a civil rights and human rights issue and it is time for the team and the NFL to stand on the right side of history and change the mascot."

In June, the U.S. Patent Office cancelled six Redskins trademarks, calling the team name "disparaging" to Native Americans. The team is currently appealing the decision.

And in April, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was time for the team to change its name. Reid called on owner Dan Snyder "to do what is morally right."

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Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[O's Fan Throws Back Rendon's Home Run]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 07:31:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/210*120/450965518.jpg.jpg

The Battle of the Beltways between the Nationals and the Orioles opened Monday at Nationals Park as a fairly strong contigent of orange-clad fans dotted the stands.

With the Nationals trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth, potential All-Star Anthony Rendon tied the game with a two-run homer that was caught by an Orioles fan, who promptly threw it back onto the field.

Just in case you missed it, here is a closer look:


Anyway, the Orioles (and presumably that fan) had the last laugh. Baltimore crushed three home runs in the 11th in an 8-2 victory. None were thrown back to my knowledge.

The Nationals have now lost nine straight home games that have gone to extra innings. That's tied for the second-longest streak in baseball in the past 35 years, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bond Between Caps' Niskanen, Reirden to Continue]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:47:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/192*120/477700189.jpg.jpg

As defenseman Matt Niskanen and agent Neil Sheehy began to wade through the lucrative offers being presented by several interested teams, they whittled down the list of potential landing spots using various criteria.

Among the critical factors was coaching. Niskanen had heard nothing but good things about Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz. But it was a familiar voice, that of recently hired assistant coach Todd Reirden, that proved particularly enticing.

"It's well-documented that Matt has a great relationship with Reirden, so that will certainly be part of his consideration," Sheehy said in a phone interview two days before the market opened.

Washington had targeted Niskanen, late of the Pittsburgh Penguins, long before Reirden joined the Capitals on June 25 -- within several hours of being fired by Pittsburgh after four seasons. Yet it was Reirden's guidance that in part allowed Niskanen to blossom into the most sought-after player in free agency at his position.

Their relationship -- which Niskanen once credited with saving his career -- will continue with the Capitals, who signed the defenseman to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract July 1.

"Todd Reirden had a lot of input on why his game was where it is and why he believed it would stay at this level," general manager Brian MacLellan said. "So we trusted Todd's opinion on that."

After a career season in which Niskanen set personal bests for goals (10), points (46), ice time per game (21:18) and plus-minus (plus-33, best among NHL defensemen), the 27-year-old is prepared to validate his long-term contract with Reirden's continued assistance. 

"I had a good year. It definitely was a breakout year," Niskanen said last week. "Now the challenge for me is to try keep moving forward.

"That's one thing me and Todd have talked about since the first day I met him: How do you get just a little bit better today? How do you get a little bit better this week, this season? That's the process we go through and I'm going to look forward to working with him some more and continuing to get better and help the team win games and improve individually."

Niskanen arrived in Pittsburgh in February 2011, a throw-in in a trade with the Dallas Stars centered around high-scoring forward James Neal.

A first-round pick in 2005, Niskanen displayed some offensive pop in his first two seasons with the Stars in 2007 and 2008, but his production and ice time (when he was not a healthy scratch) noticeably dwindled in the season-plus prior to the trade.

"My career was not in a good spot at that point," Niskanen recalled.

Niskanen and Reirden worked together to formulate a plan that would allow the former to rebuild his game. Extra video sessions and individual instruction after practices soon followed, as did a swelling of Niskanen's confidence.

"He just helped build my confidence back up," Niskanen said. "He's been a big part of why I'm at where I am today as a player and in this position."

Last season, Niskanen was thrust into a more prominent role as the Penguins were decimated by injuries, leading the NHL with 513 man-games lost. With defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin each spending a significant portion of the season on injured reserve, Pittsburgh's coaching staff entrusted Niskanen with more responsibility.

His power-play ice time ballooned as he became even more active in the offense, while also being tested against the opposition's top players.

By season's end, Niskanen factored into nearly 40 percent of the Penguins' 5-on-5 goals when he was on the ice.

"His confidence reached an all-time high with the attitude he went over the boards with every shift," Reirden said. " Everything was a new challenge for him, a new opportunity."

To Reirden, just as noticeable as Niskanen's increased production was how he mentored his inexperienced counterparts with aplomb, particularly frequent defensive partner and rookie Olli Maatta

"That's an element that he had never had in his game, which was the ability to lead and help young players," Reirden said. "I think that's something he added to his resume.

"I think he really relished that opportunity, taking on a little bit more of a leadership role. It really kind of all came together and certainly his numbers speak for themselves."

The Capitals hope that Reirden can have the same profound effect on the rest of their defensive corps, often a source of derision last season.

Niskanen, having reaped the benefits himself, is certain that Reirden can positively influence his new teammates.

"Todd helps young defensemen get better," Niskanen said. "He works on details extensively, builds your confidence. He tries to get the most out of everybody that he works with."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zimmermann Named To NL All-Star Team]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 07:12:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/450582156.jpg

Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann has been named to the National League All-Star team for the second straight season.

The 28-year-old is 6-4 with a 2.79 ERA in 18 starts so far this season. He was the only National named to the team despite worthy candidates like first baseman Adam LaRoche, infielder Anthony Rendon and closer Rafael Soriano. 

Rendon, however, will have an opportunity to make the team as part of the "Final Vote" contest. Voting is open until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday

Meanwhile, the Orioles have a league-high three starters on the American League side: Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters (who is out for the season following Tommy John surgery). 

This season's All-Star Game takes place on July 15 from Target Field in Minneapolis. 

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Flash Survey: How Many Hot Dogs Could You Eat?]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 13:08:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Hot-Dog-Generic.jpg

On the Fourth of July, we're obviously thinking about ... hot dogs.

The Guardian has weighed in with a long read, posing the question of whether a hot dog is a sandwich. We're all cooking them on grills today.

And, of course, there is the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, which took place today.

Miki Sudo, a 28-year-old from Las Vegas, wolfed down 34 franks and buns in 10 minutes to win the women's division. Joey Chestnut won the men's division by eating 61 hot dogs and buns.

Now, we want to know: How many hot dogs could you eat?

That's the question we're asking today, in a News4/NBCWashington Flash Survey. And we want you to join in the voting.

Vote any of these ways:

  • On Twitter - tweet to @nbcwashington one of these choices: "None", "1-3", "4-10", or "More than 10"
  • On Facebook here

Here's the results we've gotten for this survey and our other recent surveys.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Former Players to Harper: 'Just Shut Up']]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:13:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/451579686.jpg

Nationals slugger Bryce Harper caused quite a stir earlier this week upon his return from a thumb injury, expressing his unsolicited opinion on the lineup that manager Matt Williams put together.

"I think [Ryan Zimmerman] should be playing left. Rendon's a good third baseman. He should be playing third. We've got one of the best second basemen in the league in Danny Espinosa," Harper told reporters. "Of course, we want the best-hitting lineup in there. [But] I think Rendon playing third and Zim playing left is something that would be good for this team. I think that should be what's happening."

Williams insisted everything was fine between the two. So did Denard Span, who was left off Harper's imaginary lineup. 

The same, however, cannot be said about former major leaguers, who have made it clear that the brash 21-year-old needs to watch his mouth. 

“He needs to keep his mouth shut,” former National Mark DeRosa said on MLB Network Monday. “I’m being honest with you. As a guy who played in the league for a long time, a 21-year-old kid popping off like this? I know what he’s saying. He doesn’t realize its impact. He doesn’t realize Denard Span is impacted by this, Ryan Zimmarman’s impacted by this, Adam LaRoche. Just play the game. Just shut up and play the game.”

In a column for Fox Sports, 13-year veteran Gabe Kapler reached out to two past teammates.

The righty stated emphatically, “I think it’s absolutely brutal. Yes, he’s an immature 21 year old. I get that. But as another example, he’s no Mike Trout. Shut up and play. You’re in no position to tell your manager how to fill out the lineup. And if you want to be a superstar leader, then you have your teammates’ back at all times. He better learn from this. His teammates have to resent this [crap].”

From the lefty: “He (Harper) has shown in the past that he’ll act like a child. He thinks he’s a veteran, he isn’t. He thinks he’s a superstar, he isn’t. Not yet, at least. He does not look like a good teammate right now.”

All of this is distracting from the fact that the Nationals have won five straight games.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caps' Green Still in Immediate Plans]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:36:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/232*120/183654486.jpg.jpg

The $67 million renovation of the Washington Capitals' defensive corps -- particularly the addition of another expensive, right-handed puck-moving defenseman in Matt Niskanen -- led to questions regarding Mike Green's future with the organization to materialize once again. 

With a $6,083,333 salary-cap charge (10th largest among NHL defensemen) and a perception that his dynamic days are behind him, armchair general managers did not hesitate placing Green on their imaginary trading blocks.

Washington, however, does not see it that way, at least outwardly. In addressing his free agent signings Tuesday, general manager Brian MacLellan reiterated that the 28-year-old is very much in the Capitals' immediate plans. 

"He’s a good player," MacLellan said. "He had an OK year, but we’re hoping to get him back on track.

“I like our defense. We have six really good defensemen … I think we feel comfortable with where we’re at now.”

Green has a modified no-trade clause, and as of Thursday morning his representation had not heard anything from Washington in that regard. Tuesday, his agent said that Green was "excited" about the additions.

MacLellan and coach Barry Trotz have already begun to confer on how they envision the defense lining up. MacLellan mentioned that he could see newly acquired defenseman Brooks Orpik as Green's partner, the former's steadying presence allowing the latter to jump up into the play.

Last month, MacLellan said that "there were circumstances last year that might have hindered his performance," perhaps alluding to former coach Adam Oates' preference for defensemen to make quick outlet passes as opposed to carrying the puck on the breakout. Despite being leashed, Green was Washington's best driver of possession with a Corsi-for of 51.7 percent

"I also think with Mike Green, [Orpik] would help stabilize his game, make him feel a little more confident in the D-zone and maybe give him more confidence to go offensively," MacLellan said.

It will be interesting to see how Trotz ultimately decides to configure his defensive corps. MacLellan said Tuesday that Green, Niskanen and John Carlson should fill the right side of the depth chart (not necessarily in that order). If that is the case, then the odds are in favor of a third-pairing defenseman making at least $5.75 million. 

Among the five defensemen that will assuredly suit up for Washington in its season opener against the Montreal Canadians assuming no moves are made (Green, Orpik, Niskanen, Carlson and Karl Alzner), Green was the most sheltered last season. He started 35.5 percent of his even-strength shifts in the offensive zone and 29.3 percent in the defensive zone.

Of course, these questions will not be answered until September when the Capitals reconvene in Arlington for training camp. But as Washington's brain trust begins to plot a course for next season, Green is included for the time being. 

"It’s probably unfair for me to go he’s written off. He’s not when I look at him," Trotz said during the NHL draft. "I see some of the things and say, 'You can do that a lot better.' Then sometimes I see things and I’ll go, 'Wow, that’s guys got things a few people can do.' With Mike it’s getting a fresh start with me in terms of that and hopefully it’s a big deal for him.

"He’s in the final year of his contract where if he can piece a real good season together, it’s going to really benefit him and it’ll benefit us. I’m excited about that opportunity, because he’s pretty dynamic back there. It’s a matter of getting him to play to the level he’s capable of."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caps' Wilson Suffers Ankle Injury]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 18:08:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/204*120/183653250.jpg.jpg

Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson suffered an ankle injury in Ontario during a fall, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

The 20-year-old was one of just three rookies to appear in all 82 of his team's regular-season games in 2013-14. Wilson did not see much time (7:56 per game) as he was used exclusively on the fourth line. 

The official release suggested the possibility that Wilson may not be ready for training camp or the start of the regular season, depending on the severity. Even with a crowded depth chart at right wing, Wilson is expected to challenge for a more prominent role under coach Barry Trotz as the organization hopes the 2012 first-round pick will ultimately develop into a top-six forward.

“Until more is known about Wilson’s condition and long-term availability, any such plans could be put on hold,” the release said. “We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about Wilson’s condition and his recovery.”

A call to Wilson's agent was not immediately returned.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Peters Finds 'Great Fit' With Caps]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 09:42:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/204*120/457486881.jpg.jpg

Understandably lost amid the $67 million it took the Washington Capitals to acquire a third of the Pittsburgh Penguins' defensive corps was their first signing of the day: a cost-effective, two-year contract for goaltender Justin Peters.

The Capitals were one of three teams that piqued Peters' interest (the New York Islanders are believed to be another), which was solidified during an in-person visit last week. 

"I had the opportunity to meet Barry Trotz, Mitch Korn and the coaching staff," said Peters, who was one of two free agents that the Capitals brought in during the interview period, defenseman Brooks Orpik being the other. "I'm really excited about the direction that the Capitals are headed in. The interest that they showed in me and the confidence that they showed in me, I just felt it was a great fit for myself.

"When the head coach on a team looks you in the eye and tells you that he wants you to be there, that goes a long way."

Peters, who will make $1.9 million over the course of his contract, made 20 starts for the Carolina Hurricanes last season, sporting a 7-9-4 record with a 2.50 goals against average and .919 save percentage. Carolina, however, elected to start next season with long-time starter Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin as its goaltending tandem, leaving Peters to look elsewhere.

"The time he's played in the NHL has been very, very successful," Peter's agent, Jordan Neumann, said during a phone interview Sunday. "I think he's looking for an opportunity to play a lot and prove to people that he's at the very least a very high-end No. 2 goalie."

He will get that opportunity in Washington, which opted to sign a less-experienced Peters, who has 68 career appearances over five seasons, over a more seasoned goaltender. (For example, the Capitals were one of five teams that expressed interest in Jonas Hiller, who ultimately signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Calgary Flames.)

That was a calculated decision by general manager Brian MacLellan, who wanted to send a clear message to starter Braden Holtby. 

"If you bring in an older, experienced guy, it’s going to cost you more money," MacLellan said. "it was going to cost us more money, and it might have been a little more pressure on Holtby. We wanted to send a message to Holtby that he was our No.1 guy."

Peters said Tuesday that he has not had any conversations regarding his specific role, pointing out that teams "need two goalies throughout the season, sometimes three" to combat the grind. 

"I don’t think you can go into the season with a set plan," he said. "I think it’ll work itself out. I’ve never met Braden personally, but I’ve played against him a lot. I know he’s a great goalie, a great competitor right there. “

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caps Sign Orpik to Five-Year Deal]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 16:01:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/485782271.jpg

The Washington Capitals signed veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million contract Tuesday.

Orpik has spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, appearing in 703 games. The 33-year-old stay-at-home defenseman, who turns 34 in September, is a two-time Olympian and will be reunited with assistant coach Todd Reirden. The Capitals hired Reirden last week after he was fired by the Penguins.

“I think he’s player that, looking at the Capitals present roster, I think he’d be a guy, left-hand shot, more of a stay-at-home guy that plays against the other team’s top players,” Reirden said of Orpik on Monday. “I think I pride myself in my ability to form relationships with the players where I can challenge them and continue to force them to improve. Brooks is a guy that, prior to us working together, started at just over 18 minutes and now is capped out at his average of 22 minutes and he plays the toughest players, night in and night out.

“He’s been a part of the top penalty-killing unit and he’s been the best penalty killer the past three years, four years that I’ve been involved in Pittsburgh. I think he brings that ability. I think a situation where he saw a lot of [Capitals forward Alex] Ovechkin in our matchups, when we came into this building or Washington was playing us in Pittsburgh. It’s a guy that can handle that. His maturity, he’s won [a] Stanley Cup, he’s been a part of [a] good defensive team and his leadership I think would be a great fit for any team."

The signing, for lack of a better descriptor, is curious. Orpik, whose annual salary-cap charge increased from $3.75 million on his last contract in Pittsburgh to $5.5 million in Washington, does not drive possession and has seen his average ice time diminish from 22:33 in 2011-12 to 22:17 in 2012-13 and 21:12 last season.

There is no doubt that Washington was in need of a steadying defensive presence, especially after using a league-high 14 defensemen last season. Yet it seems unlikely that Orpik will live up to the contract.

After signing goaltender Justin Peters to a two-year, $1.9 million contract earlier Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals have roughly $6.2 million in available space.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Officially Member of Big Ten]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 20:53:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/185964076.jpg

The Maryland Terrapins' 60-year affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference officially ended Tuesday as the university, one of the ACC's founding members, joined the Big Ten.

Along with Rutgers, Maryland will join the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin as it attempts to forge the same rivalries that carried it through the ACC. 

“All it takes is that first time you go to the Big House and you get a call against you and you start hating Michigan,” associate athletics director Ryan Bowles told The Washington Post

To celebrate its entrance into the Big Ten, Maryland will hold an on-campus celebration on Mitchell Field from noon-1:30 p.m. The event will feature the special unveiling of the Big Ten ice cream, interactive games, t-shirt giveaways and appearances by the Mighty Sound of Maryland, Testudo and the Spirit Squad.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sources: Wizards Re-Sign Gortat]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 21:11:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/240*120/20140505+WizardsFansContest.jpg


A person familiar with the deal says center Marcin Gortat has agreed to a five-year, $60 million contract to remain with the Washington Wizards.

Gortat, acquired in a trade with the Phoenix Suns last October, played an integral role in Washington's run to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 30-year-old native of Poland nearly averaged a double-double per game with 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds in 32.8 minutes.

During the playoffs, Gortat made history in Game 5 against the Indiana Pacers. With 31 points and 16 rebounds, he shot 86.7 percent from the field, the highest ever in NBA playoff history in a 30-point, 15-rebound performance. 

Free agency opened throughout the NBA early Tuesday morning. According to Russini, one other team has submitted an offer to Gortat.


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Photo Credit: The Washington Post]]>
<![CDATA[Nats' Harper Starting in Left Field Monday]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 18:47:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/487090969.jpg

The Washington Nationals reinstated slugger Bryce Harper from the disabled list Monday, confirming his return from a left thumb injury that cost him two months of action.

He will start in left field against the Rockies on what just so happens to be Bryce Harper Bobblehead Night. How serendipitous.

Harper required surgery on a torn ulnar collateral ligament in late April which forced him to miss 59 games.

The 21-year-old recently has been making the rounds through the team's minor-league system as he prepared for his return to the lineup.

On Saturday with Double-A Harrisburg, Harper more than proved that his hand is in working order once again, smashing three home runs Saturday for the Senators.


Yeah, I think he is good to go.

In five rehab games, Harper finished 9-for-14 (.643) with four home runs, 11 RBIs and seven runs scored. 

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>