NEWS & NOTES

Capitals Sign Jurcina to 1-Year Deal Following Arbitration

The Capitals signed their last remaining free agent, 26-year-old defenseman Milan Jurcina, after he was awarded $1.375 million in arbitration.
The Capitals signed their last remaining free agent, 26-year-old defenseman Milan Jurcina, after he was awarded $1.375 million in arbitration. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Washington Capitals signed Milan Jurcina, the team's last remaining free agent, to a one-year contract Friday morning after the defenseman was awarded $1.375 million in arbitration.

Because the award was less than the "walk away" figure of $1.57 million established in the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, the ruling was binding and the Capitals had no option but to accept it.

In Tuesday's arbitration hearing in Toronto, Capitals attorney Don Fishman asked the arbitrator to set the defenseman's salary for next season at $1.05 million. Jurcina and his agent, Allan Walsh, sought $1.55 million, or just below the "walk away" figure.

The award represents a substantial raise over the $912,500 Jurcina earned last season and puts pressure on Capitals General Manager George McPhee to shed salary before the start of the next season to squeeze beneath the $56.8 million salary cap ceiling.

"It's a great result for Milan and the process was handled well by both parties," Walsh wrote on his Twitter page.

The 26-year-old Jurcina, a third-pairing defenseman, led Washington defensemen in games played (79) and all Capitals in blocked shots (131), and he was second on the team in hits (157). He will have the sixth-highest cap hit among defensemen next season, ahead of only John Erskine ($1.25 million) and Jeff Schultz ($715,000).

-- Tarik El-Bashir

TENNIS

Blake Withdraws

Former Legg Mason Tennis Classic champion James Blake has been forced to withdraw from the event because of a foot injury suffered in Davis Cup competition earlier this month, tournament officials announced Friday.

Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Gael Monfils and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic also will skip the event because of injuries. Their absence opens up guaranteed spots in the draw for Americans Robby Ginepri, who won the hard-court event in Indianapolis last week, and the big-serving John Isner.

Top American Andy Roddick, who has won the Legg Mason three times (2001, 2005 and 2007), is scheduled to open play Tuesday night. It will be Roddick's first tournament since his five-set loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final on July 5.


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