Any hockey news is good news on a hot July day. Former Caps defenseman Kevin Hatcher will be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Buffalo, NY on Oct. 21. Hatcher is the sixth former Caps player to go into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, joining Rod Langway, Phil Housley, Bobby Carpenter, Craig Patrick and Dave Christian. Hatcher goes in with his brother, Derian Hatcher, and NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick, a nine-time All-Star.
Hatcher played nine seasons for the Caps and still ranks 11th in franchise history in points (426). Remember when Mike Green scored 31 goals two years ago? The team mark he was chasing belonged to Hatcher, who scored 34 goals in 1992-93. No defenseman has more goals in franchise history for a single season or a career (149). Hatcher was the 17th overall pick in the 1984 draft and played in two NHL games during his first professional season, scoring a goal. By the next year he was a regular. Hatcher topped 40 points in each of his last seven seasons in Washington. His best was the 34-goal, 45-assist, 79-point campaign in 1992-93.
Talk about overshadowed, though. Hatcher played alongside three future NHL Hall-of-Fame defenseman for five years – Langway, Larry Murphy and Scott Stevens. He had nine goals and 10 assists in his rookie year and 119 penalty minutes on one of the best Caps team ever. That group played together until Murphy was traded on March 7, 1989. Stevens left as a restricted free agent after the 1990 season and Langway retired following an injury-plagued 1992-93 campaign. Hatcher stayed with the team until a Jan. 18, 1995 trade to Dallas for defenseman Mark Tinordi. Hatcher played two years for the Stars in Dallas, three in Pittsburgh with the Penguins and one each with the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes before retiring. He was a five-time All-Star.
Still searching for hockey news? Pace yourself. Training camp is seven weeks away. Okay – Tuesday is the first official Winter Classic press conference. It takes place at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and will be broadcast on NHL Network live at noon. David Steckel and Mike Knuble will represent the Caps. Alex Ovechkin is back home in Moscow, where he will be presented with the Kharlamov Trophy for the fifth year in a row that evening. That award goes to the top Russian player in the NHL.
Caps owner Ted Leonsis also has other business that day and won’t be in attendance. Team president Dick Patrick and general manager George McPhee fill in for him. NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman will be there. And The Penguins are breaking out every prominent Pittsburgh citizen in history. Just kidding. But Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Max Talbot will be there along with team owner Mario Lemieux and general manager Ray Shero. Shocker, there may be a few politicians hanging around, too. The Penguins and Caps play in the fourth annual Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2011 in Pittsburgh.
You need more news? This is getting tough. But Tomas Fleischmann does have his arbitration hearing next Wednesday. That one could get uncomfortable considering he scored 23 goals and was still a healthy scratch for Game 7 of the first-round playoff series against Montreal. Fleischmann’s camp has floated a $2.75 million price tag. Washington has plenty of cap space to accommodate that salary. It just may choose not to if Fleischmann wins his arbitration case. Then again – there’s no legitimate second-line center on the roster yet with Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault in the mix at training camp. Fleischmann could be that guy.
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