By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 30, 2009; D08
SAN JOSE -- On Monday, Jason Chimera was traded from the second-worst team in the Western Conference to the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.
On Tuesday, the rugged left winger saw his fortunes take another unexpected turn: Instead of being assigned to the checking line in his first practice with the Capitals, the 30-year-old skated with skilled forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin. Much of the hour-long session at HP Pavilion was spent introducing Chimera to Coach Bruce Boudreau's systems.
"No slight to Sammy Pahlsson and Freddy Modin," Chimera said, referring to his most recent linemates with the Columbus Blue Jackets. "They're great players. But Backstrom and Semin bring a whole new level to the game. Just their patience with the puck is unbelievable. Should be fun. Hopefully I don't go offside too much."
Chimera arrived in Washington on Tuesday night and underwent a physical exam at Verizon Center, then hitched a ride with Brooks Laich to Dulles International Airport to catch the team charter to San Jose. On the nearly six-hour flight, the Edmonton native finally had a chance to reflect on a whirlwind afternoon that saw him trade up -- big time -- in the standings. The defense-first Blue Jackets had lost nine games in a row before he was dealt; the Capitals had won 11 of 14 prior to Monday's 6-3 loss to Carolina.
"It's a great opportunity with a good team, so it's like a new lease on life," said Chimera, who is 6 feet 2, 216 pounds and one of the game's fastest skaters. "You can tell from the atmosphere that everyone wants to win."
One of Chimera's first moves as a Capital was to seek out Alex Ovechkin. When the Capitals hosted Columbus on Nov. 1, it was Chimera who instigated a scrum that resulted in Ovechkin suffering a shoulder injury that sidelined the two-time MVP for six games.
"He did not say he's sorry," Ovechkin said with a smile. "He just said thank God it was not him who did it. It was someone else."
Indeed, it was Jared Boll, not Chimera, who hurt Ovechkin.
"He had hammered me once earlier in the game," Chimera recounted. "I never had been hit that hard before. So I just kind of pushed him to get back at him. Unfortunately, he got hurt on that play in the scrum. But he's a teammate now. I joked with him about it, so it's fine now."
Capitals note: Semyon Varlamov (groin muscle strain) was assigned to the minor league Hershey Bears for conditioning.