Capitals Notebook

Nice Start Means Caps 'In No Rush' to Trade

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Washington Capitals are one of the hottest teams in the NHL, having won four of five games entering tonight's meeting with the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center. Their 20 standings points in 17 games has them on pace to earn a playoff berth.

But the youthful club's better-than-expected start hasn't tempted management to accelerate its plan to patiently rebuild from within the organization. If anything, it has confirmed General Manager George McPhee's philosophy, he said yesterday.

"We like what we have," McPhee said. "We like our young guys and we're going with them."

So as early-season trade discussions gather momentum around the NHL, don't expect McPhee to be active in the market -- for now, at least. The Capitals (8-5-4) are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind fifth-place Montreal, Carolina and the New York Rangers.

"If at any point in time there's something out there that makes sense and makes our team better, we'll do it," McPhee said. "But we're in no rush."

Goaltender Olie Kolzig acknowledged the Capitals' obvious depth issues but added that he doesn't feel a trade is necessary at the moment.

"Every team is looking for a little more talent, no question," said Kolzig, who asked for competitive assurances before signing a two-year contract extension in February. "But at what expense? Do you give away one of your heart-and-soul guys? I think right now, no. We need to play better, but the bottom line is we're winning."

Lords of the Rings

When McPhee walked into the Capitals' locker room at Verizon Center after practice, a loud round of applause erupted. It was the veteran players' reaction to five former Hershey (Pa.) Bears receiving their American Hockey League championship rings.

The diamond- and ruby-encrusted silver rings went to Boyd Gordon, Brooks Laich, Kris Beech, Mike Green and Jakub Klepis. Tomas Fleischmann got his ring last month in Hershey.

"It reminds you of what you went through last year, and it reminds you of why you play this game," Laich said. "Until you go through a two-month battle like that and you come out on top, the last team standing, you don't really understand fully what it means to win and be part of a championship."

Beech said his ring eventually will make its way to a trophy case in his parents' home.

"I've been waiting for it," he said. "It's great to finally get it. It brings back so many emotions."

Wrist Still Hindering Zednik

Injured right wing Richard Zednik (wrist) practiced, but he likely will miss his sixth consecutive game tonight. He is listed as day-to-day. . . . Alexander Semin was hit hard late in third period Monday night, but the slumping left wing (five assists, no goals in his past 10 games) showed no ill effects yesterday. . . . NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will attend tonight's game.

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