By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 1, 2009
Washington Capitals star left wing Alex Ovechkin missed yesterday's practice, the team's first since clinching a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday night.
Coach Bruce Boudreau and Ovechkin both said he was simply taking a second straight day off skating to rest and recover from a physical first-round series against the New York Rangers. But the fact that Ovechkin was the only player not on the ice for a strategy-intensive session led to speculation that the reigning MVP could be nursing an injury.
"He'll be practicing tomorrow, okay?" Boudreau said. "Sometimes his body gets beat up because he plays so much. He just plays a lot. So he needs a little bit more rest than other guys. So he's just resting today."
Asked why he did not practice, Ovechkin smiled and said: "Just take more day[s] off."
The NHL does not require teams to disclose injuries unless the player is expected to miss a game. The Capitals open their second-round series against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow at Verizon Center.
Instead of skating with his teammates, Ovechkin worked out with his personal trainer, Dmitry Kapitonov, who arrived from Moscow this week. Ovechkin has turned to Kapitonov in the past when he has wanted to rehab an injury or increase his fitness level.
"He's not my doctor, he's my trainer," Ovechkin said.Bonus Round of Profits
The NHL, its sponsors and the league's television partners all stand to benefit from Ovechkin and the Capitals reaching the second round. But so does the team's bottom line, according to club president Dick Patrick.
With four home games in the opening round, the Capitals anticipate turning a profit of between $400,000 and $500,000, Patrick said. Those figures are after the team returned an estimated 60-65 percent of its gross ticket sales revenue to the league, which redistributes the money to the revenue sharing program and to players' postseason bonuses. The Capitals are among the teams that benefit from revenue sharing.
Patrick estimates those figures will continue to grow because ticket prices are higher in the playoffs. Tickets purchased at the gate and season ticket holder prices increase roughly 20 percent per round. Patrick also said profits will be up this round because one-time expenditures such as the printing of tickets, media guides and video production were paid for last month.
If the Capitals play three or four home games against the Penguins, Patrick said, the team could post another $800,000 to $1 million profit.
But even if the Capitals were to win the Stanley Cup, Patrick estimates the Capitals would still lose money because the team's average ticket price ranks in the bottom third of the league.
"But that's something we're hoping to change in the future," Patrick said. "The plan is not to lose money, but that's the reality right now."Tortorella Has Regrets
Rangers Coach John Tortorella, who was suspended for Game 6 of the quarterfinals after throwing a water bottle into the Verizon Center stands in response to a heckler, made his first public comments about the incident yesterday.
"It's a bad mistake by me," Tortorella told reporters in New York. "I regret it. I put the New York Rangers organization in an embarrassing situation. I'm embarrassed by it. I am an intense person, which is a positive, but it also turns into a negative sometimes." . . .
Rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov has never played back-to-back games in the NHL, but it's possible he'll have to next Friday and Saturday for Games 4 and 5. There have been concerns about Varlamov's ability to recover quickly because he expends so much energy during games.
"It is tough," Varlamov said through an interpreter. "It's much better for a goalie to get a day off so you can recover from the previous game. With back-to-back [games], there is negligible time. But I'm not overly concerned about it because both goalies are going to be in the same situation." . . .
Defenseman Jeff Schultz, who hasn't played since suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 1 against the Rangers, left practice after about 10 minutes yesterday. Boudreau said he doesn't expect Schultz to be ready for "the first few games, anyway." . . .
Defenseman Brian Pothier, the Washington nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, was not chosen as a finalist for the award, which is given to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.