Capitals trade captain Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina for Jason Chimera

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Washington Capitals got faster and a bit more feisty Monday when they acquired left wing Jason Chimera from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina.

Chimera, perhaps best known in Washington for starting the scrum that led to Alex Ovechkin's injury in November, had 8 goals, 9 assists and 47 penalty minutes for the Blue Jackets. The 30-year-old likely will skate on the third line and take the spot of Clark, a natural right wing who had been playing on the left side.

"I think back to the game [Nov. 1] and I remember saying, 'Hey, listen, he's bigger than I thought, he's stronger than I thought and he can skate better than I thought,' " Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Chimera. "And he shoots left, which is important, too. We needed a guy that was a little bit more physical and is a really good skater, and he plays with an edge."

Chimera, a 6-foot-2, 216-pound native of Edmonton, Alberta, did not arrive in Washington in time to suit up against Carolina on Monday night. But he was expected to take a physical exam at Verizon Center after the game, then board the Capitals' charter fight and be on the ice for practice Tuesday in San Jose.

Chimera is a veteran of eight-plus NHL seasons split between Edmonton and Columbus and has totaled 81 goals, 172 points and 465 penalty minutes in 461 games. He was limited to 49 games last season because of groin muscle injuries. His best season came in 2006-07 as a member of the Blue Jackets, when he amassed 15 goals, 21 assists and 91 penalty minutes in 82 games.

Capitals General Manager George McPhee said the deal was originally discussed in September and gained traction in recent days.

"We just thought it was the right trade for us right now," McPhee said. "We've had extra defensemen all year, which is not a great situation to be in. So we felt like we could move a defenseman and balance out our forward lines given that we're going to play Brooks Laich more in the middle."

While the deal fills a void on the left side for the Capitals, it also leaves one in the leadership department. Clark had been the team's captain since 2006, but injuries cost him the majority of two seasons. During that time, the Capitals ascended from one of the league's worst teams to one of its elite.

"When he scored 30 goals, he was playing on the top line and playing all the power plays and killing penalties," Boudreau said. "When your team gets better, people move down the list."

Boudreau said the team will discuss the captaincy internally, but is in no hurry to name a replacement in the coming days. Ovechkin, Laich and veteran winger Mike Knuble would seem to be the most likely candidates to succeed Clark.

"You don't slap a 'C' on someone else," said Boudreau, who inherited Clark as captain. "You take your time, out of respect for him and to make the right decision. Because, for me, your captain is a very important part of your team."

Clark, who had a four goals, 11 assists and a team-worst plus-minus rating of minus-4 in 38 games, said he was blindsided by the trade that sends him to the Western Conference's 14th-ranked team.

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