Challenging road as abbreviated season approaches

Washington Capitals vice president and general manager George McPhee answers questions from the media during an NHL hockey availability at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Ben Raby, wtop.com

ARLINGTON, Va. – Members of the Washington Capitals admit that there are plenty of unknowns when it comes to the upcoming lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season.

While General Manager George McPhee is confident in the team he has assembled, there may also be challenges as first-year head coach Adam Oates implements a new system with an abbreviated training camp and a condensed regular-season schedule.

“It’s going to be different,” Oates said of a shortened camp and the lack of pre- season games. “It’s going to be different for the guys and we’ll try and make the transition as smooth as possible.

“It’s only ever happened once before [a lockout in 1994-95 made for an abbreviated 48 game season]. I don’t think anybody has a perfect formula. I mean, everybody’s going to try and create one and we’re no different. We’re trying to think of everything we can to make it right and make sure the guys play their best in a short span of time.”

It’s still not known how long training camp will last or when it will officially begin, but multiple reports suggest that a five or six day camp could begin as early as this weekend.

“No one knows what this is going to look like- who’s in shape, who’s not, who gets out to a fast start and who doesn’t,” McPhee said. “It’s going to be like 48 playoff games but really unpredictable. We don’t know how people are going to play, and I guess that’s what’s going to make it exciting.”

Been there, done that:

Defenseman Roman Hamrlik is the only active member on the Capitals roster who played in the NHL’s lockout shortened 1995 season, but head coach Adam Oates was an assistant captain with the Boston Bruins at the time.

“I’ve tried to remember and we’ve talked to a lot of people about it, the guys that went through it and it’s hard,” Oates said.

“Because as a player I really feel that like once we started playing it was just like playing. You’re in games and you’re kind of coming down the stretch in the schedule where it’s a little more intense because it’s getting more playoff time and that time of year. I imagine it’s going to be very similar to that.”

Poti break:

Saturday will mark two years since Capitals defenseman Tom Poti last played a professional hockey game due to lingering groin issues and a fractured pelvis.

Poti failed his medical exam at the start of training camp in Sept. 2011 and missed the entire 2011-12 season. The 35-year-old though has continued to rehab near his home in Boston and expects to participate in next week’s camp according to the Washington Times.

“It’s good news and good for him that he’s put all the work in,” McPhee said. “I don’t know if he’s going to be able to play. If he can, that’d be great. I think it’s a bit of a long shot, but if he can play, that’d be terrific. We wouldn’t have any cap issues or anything like that, so that would be fine if he could do it.”

Every kiss begins with K…HL:

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin ended 2012 in style when he proposed on New Year’s Eve to his longtime girlfriend Maria Kirilenko. The 14th ranked women’s tennis player in the world said yes, although the couple has not yet set a wedding date.

“I feel normal,” Ovechkin said of being engaged. “She’s not with me right now, she’s [competing] in Australia but it’s a good feeling, you know? It’s not that feeling anymore when you can do whatever you want. You have a girl with a tennis racquet and she can hit you. It’s funny. It’s a great feelings for me right now.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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