Caps Send Captain Clark, Jurcina to Columbus

Chimera headed to D.C.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 24: Goatender Marc Denis #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the save on Chris Clark #17 of the Washington Capitals on October 24, 2007 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    The Capitals said goodbye to their captain Monday afternoon by trading Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina to the Blue Jackets for winger Jason Chimera.

    But why tinker with a good thing? The move comes at a time when the Caps find themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, yet they are trying to fine-tune their team in order to make a deeper run in the postseason.

    One of the biggest issues the team has been dealing with is the penalty-killing unit. The team has taken an obscene amount of careless penalties this season, and the PK unit has been overworked (it's hovering just below the 80 percent mark). Chimera, 30, is a speedy winger who excels at killing off penalties. His size, speed and hustle will certainly help in that department.

    Clark, the team's captain the past four seasons, has been injury-prone throughout his career. The injuries certainly have taken a toll, as his speed and hands have diminished at the age of 33.   There's no guarantee he'll be able to last the rest of the season.  While Chimera has had his share of medical issues (concussions, in particular), there's a better chance he can be counted on in the Spring.

    Jurcina, 26, has become the odd man out on the blue line. He has great size, but his mobility has always been a question mark. And with young studs like Karl Alzner and John Carlson waiting in the wings, Jurcina was a likely candidate to get the boot.

    Of course money is also an issue in any trade. According to NHLPA.com, Clark and Jurcina's combined salaries this season total a little over $4 million. Chimera, on the other hand, is scheduled to make $1.875 million this year. Add that savings with the money saved by shipping out Michael Nylander, and the Caps have plenty of room to maneuver if they want to add more stars to the lineup before the trade deadline.

    So while the move might seem like a shock to Caps' fans' systems now with the loss of two well-known names, the reward down the line might be well worth it.

    Oh, and one more thing:  The move leaves the Caps without a captain.  The "C" has to go to Alex Ovechkin.  It's time for him to take charge of this team and lead the way to the Stanley Cup.  He's got the fame and fortune and is the face of the franchise.  Now comes the responsibility that goes along with it.