Capitals Bring Old Baggage to New Facility

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 11, 2006

A new era for the Washington Capitals will officially begin this morning, when the players and coaching staff glide onto the ice for the first time at their state-of-the-art training facility and team headquarters in Arlington.

A few hours later, the team will be hoping for a second new beginning when they host the New York Rangers, 48 hours after getting hammered, 5-0, by the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. The loss was the Capitals' worst since the New York Islanders defeated them by the same score at Nassau Coliseum on April 8, and it marked the 10th time in 15 games they've yielded 35 or more shots on goal.

Following back-to-back wins over Philadelphia and Ottawa, the decisive defeat in Raleigh, N.C., put the rebuilding Capitals "in our place," captain Chris Clark said afterward.

Coach Glen Hanlon added, "As coaches, it loads us with lots of ammunition."

Perhaps the new surroundings in Arlington will provide a distraction in the wake of Thursday's debacle. They are scheduled to make their Kettler Capitals Iceplex debut at 10:30 a.m. and will likely spend about an hour on the ice loosening up and preparing for Jaromir Jagr and the Rangers. The pregame practice sessions are open and free to the public.

The Capitals learned Thursday night that the necessary paperwork had been completed, meaning their $42 million home, which boasts views of the Washington Monument, was finally available for use. The opening had been delayed several months because of construction complications related to building atop a parking garage adjacent to Ballston Common Mall. The club had been temporarily practicing at Ashburn Ice House.

Earlier this month, the Capitals announced they had sold the naming rights to Kettler, a Northern Virginia based real estate development company. Sources say the deal is for seven years and calls for Kettler to pay the Capitals approximately $400,000 per year. The facility was funded by Arlington and is leased long term to the Capitals.

The interior isn't completely finished. Some of the training areas and offices still must be painted, carpeted and furnished. The team's front office staff will move in next month.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are not expected to skate tomorrow morning because they won't arrive in town until the early-morning hours after facing the Thrashers in Atlanta. But when visiting NHL teams skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, those practices also will be open and free to the public.

Capitals Notes: The team did not practice yesterday. . . . Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby are among 37 players whose names will debut on the All-Star Game ballot. Goaltender Olie Kolzig is the only other Capital on the ballot. Fan voting will be conducted entirely online for the first time, beginning Wednesday at . The game will be played in Dallas on Jan. 24.

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