Capitals trade Clark, Jurcina for Chimera

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Lindsay Applebaum
Washington Post Capitals and NHL Editor
Tuesday, December 29, 2009; 11:00 AM

Washington Post Capitals and NHL Editor Lindsay Applebaum was online Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions about the team's trade of captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina to Columbus for winger Jason Chimera.

Caps Coverage

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Lindsay Applebaum: Good morning, everyone. I know there's a lot to talk about this morning but I'm finding it difficult to focus since the latest issue of The Hockey News came in the mail yesterday and I'm nowhere to be found on their "100 People of Power and Influence" list. Seriously, do they even know how much power, influence and maybe a little light threatening it takes to get a certain Capitals beat writer to file his stories on time? I should say, though, that this list loses some credibility when Patrick Kane and Greg Wyshynski apparently have more pull in the NHL than George McPhee.

Aaaanyway, let's get to the trade talk...

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Takoma Park, MD: I don't like it. The Caps have been getting better and better over the past few years under Chris Clark's leadership and now he is gone. I don't see how Chimera brings any added benefit to the lineup.

Lindsay Applebaum: The Caps HAVE been getting better and better over the past few years, but -- not to be callous -- that's thanks to McPhee's moves. Chris Clark has been a beloved teammate and a great leader, but he was making too much money for having such a decreased role. He's been hurt a lot, and since he returned, his production had been down -- due largely in part to playing a position that didn't really suit him.

Lindsay Applebaum: Oh, and as for Chimera: He's big and strong, he's a good skater, he's a lefty... And his role in the Columbus locker room as a respected veteran is quite similar to Clark's with the Caps.

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Annandale, Va.: Will Ovechkin and Chimera kiss and make up? I mean, the injury from their scrum did cause Ovie to miss 6 games and now he is only tied for the goals lead, not alone in it.

Lindsay Applebaum: Water under the bridge. They're big boys, and Ovechkin certainly knows as well as anyone that it's the way the game goes.

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Annapolis, Md.: I understand the need to make the trade, what with the extra defensemen on the roster, but why didn't we trade Schultz?

Lindsay Applebaum: You know Columbus has to agree to the deal, too, right? Heh.

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Blawnox, Pa.: Lindsay,

Can't help but think yesterday's deal is the precursor to a bigger deal closer to/at the trade deadline. What's your take on this, and who would be the most likely Caps on the move?

Lindsay Applebaum: Agreed. McPhee can say this wasn't about the money, and maybe it wasn't ALL about the money, but he knew what he was doing when he cleared out more than $2 mil in cap space.

They're going to make another deal before March. As for who it could be, we'll see. It's a long season -- injuries happen, and the need could become clearer in the coming months.

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Fairfax, VA: Was last night's embarrassing loss due to the trade or was it more about Jose Theodore playing poorly? Is there any chance to trade Theodore for even more salary cap room?

Lindsay Applebaum: Tough to say, huh? I'll go with a combination. It was pretty clear that the Caps were completely shell-shocked and discombobulated last night, and who could blame them? But Theo has a tendency to become a headcase very quickly. Last night, he didn't get a whole lot of help, but he also let in a couple softies.

I don't think the Caps will trade him -- they can afford to hang on to all three right now.

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Silver Spring: What is Chimera expected to bring to the Caps, other than allowing Brooks Laich to play at center more and some salary cap space?

Lindsay Applebaum: What do you want? Should he make the whole team breakfast every morning, too? No, really -- he's better suited than Clark as a third-line, natural left winger. He's fast, he's edgy and he's a good teammate. Hey, maybe he will make everyone breakfast, I don't know.

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Lucas, TX: Why tinker with the Number 1 team in the NHL? If it isn't broken, don't fix it.

Lindsay Applebaum: Because it's a long season, and the No. 1 team today isn't necessarily the No. 1 team when it really counts. See: San Jose Sharks.

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Ovechkinland, Virginia: Linds, how do you find all your stories to the reading list? Do you read message boards, or do you find them on your own? I love all the links! Keep up the good work.

Lindsay Applebaum: Hey thanks, and sorry to everyone who didn't ask this question for being self-serving enough to post it.

It's a scientific combo of 1)Google alerts on every player, coach and front-office employee, 2)RSS feeds and 3)having virtually no life outside work. That said, help a sister out and if you have a link-worthy link, please email it to me: lindsay.applebaum@wpost.com

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Washington, D.C.: We know the Caps are all about chemistry -- where do you see Chimera being a good fit? Possible linemates?

Lindsay Applebaum: Third line, maybe with Laich and Fehr? We'll see -- you know Bruce loves to mix it up, so I'm sure he'll get a chance to try out a few combos.

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Please Report, Reporters: What occured earlier this season between Clark and Green??

Of course GMGM would not mention it, but did this have anything to do with Clark being traded?

Lindsay Applebaum: From what I was told -- I wasn't there -- Green wasn't up to par at practice and Clark let him have it. I'll go out on a limb and say that it's 100% not why he was traded. The Caps need that from their veterans.

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Arlington, Va.: I put the Carolina loss directly on McPhee. He totally mishandled the trade announcement. All you do is scratch those two guys and then announce it AFTER the game. Comments?

Lindsay Applebaum: I agree that it would have been ideal to avoid making a trade hours before a game, but it's not that easy. When I woke up yesterday, the rumors were already flying and the teams were already having serious talks. Once the deal is done, it's done -- you can't really sit on it.

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Hogette, FedEx Field, MD: Losing the captain and a leader is Hogwash. I feel bad for Clarkie, it must be hard to be here and help the teams players grow, and to leave when the team is really good. But, the Caps have Knuble and Morrison (the forward), and Theodore, Poti, and Pothier. They aren't lacking for seasoned veterans. Ovechkin is also a veteran now. They aren't as young as people are trying to say they are.

I do think they need a captain before the playoffs. My vote goes to Knuble.

Lindsay Applebaum: I've been hearing Mike Knuble's name thrown out there a lot. He's certainly a good choice, but I'd put Brooks Laich above Ovie and Knuble. Laich is a hard worker, extremely vocal and a great representative for the team. We'll see what happens. It doesn't seem like Bruce is in any rush to name a successor, though.

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Schultztown, USA: Here's one reason the Caps didn't trade Schultz: he's been one of their best defenseman this year. Second in the league among all defenseman (tied with Mike Green) in plus/minus, and allows only 1.57 GA/ON per 60, better than Alzer, ShaMo, Poti, Green and Sloan, at $715K. Yep, get him out of here!

Lindsay Applebaum: Schultztown! Just throwing this out there, just because.

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Clifton, Va.: Backstrom...he deserves an extension. I could see him signing a multi-year deal for less than market price to stay here.

Why doesn't he get more attention from around the league? I know the excuse of Ovechkin overshadowing him, but Malkin has crosby in Steel City, and Malkin still gets lots of kudos from the press and fans alike. Backstrom is a great setup man, is shooting more, is quiet, and has managed to stay healthy (knock on wood!)

Lindsay Applebaum: Of course he does, and he'll get one. Though I should add that your faith in him to take a lesser deal in the name of the team is probably too high. There's a reason Backstrom has a fancy new Web site with action-movie music and highlights playing (www.backstrom19.com). He and his agent want to get his name out there. Malkin has Crosby, but remember, Backstrom has Ovie, Semin, Green... he's a great player -- surrounded by several great players.

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But What About Him?: Ms. Applebaum; when you wrote, "I'm nowhere to be found on their "100 People of Power and Influence" list" you neglected to tell us where Tarik landed on the list. Would that recognition be behind your grump and gloom? :)

Lindsay Applebaum: Ah, but behind every great beat writer is a great editor, you see. Jeez, I hope Tarik doesn't read this transcript.

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Washington, DC: So, is Ovechkin ready to be the next captain?

Lindsay Applebaum: Yes, but Brooks Laich is ready-er (just go with it). Ovechkin is the best hockey player on the planet, but I think Laich is more relatable as a leader. Just my opinion, and there are a few good choices.

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Reston, VA: Do you know if this trade was brought on more by the Caps, looking to drop salaries, or more by Columbus, trying to address needs?

Lindsay Applebaum: I was TOLD (but don't know for sure) that Columbus initiated the talks, and they were specifically interested in Clark. Apparently they were talking to another team as well. According to the Columbus Dispatch, that team also wanted Chimera.

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Brooksie for Captain: There has been only one European-Captained Stanley Cup winner. Just sayin'...

Lindsay Applebaum: Is that you, Don Cherry???

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Connecticut: The trade excuse is a bad one for losing the game last night. Columbus was in the trade and they won their game against a division rival. Sometimes this team needs to be able to tough it out. Maybe Chimera can bring that.

Sorry for the rant.

Great job, Lindsay (my daughter's name too)!

Lindsay Applebaum: Well, maybe the Caps were just a little more upset about the move, a little more shocked. Remember, Clark has been the captain for four years, and Juice is a well-liked teammate too.

To quote a tweet from agent Alan Walsh, who represents both Chimera and Jurcina, "The behind the scenes story on days like today rarely get told...shocked players and families, tearful good-byes to teammates...rush to join new team, Arrangements for equipment, apartment/home, car, clothing...bittersweet."

It's true, them's the breaks and it's part of the game. But I can't help but feel for Clark, who's been here for five years, probably figured he'd be here when the team hits its peak... it's sad for him, and I'm sure the Caps were sad as well. Walsh, by the way, also snubbed in The Hockey News' list. He's got less influence than John Tavares and Hakan Loob (yeah, I don't know either.)

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Fairfax, Va.: Lindsay, I still can't figure out the anger some have about this trade. It was an oft injured, underperforming fourth liner and a third pairing sometimes scratched defensemen for what is expected to be an everyday third-liner and $2 million in cap space.

Where is the down side?

Lindsay Applebaum: I'm guessing it's because of Clark. But fans should be happy when Chimera gets acclimated. I also haven't mentioned what this does for promising young D-man Karl Alzner's development -- he finally gets a chance to show what he can do.

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DC: True or False:

It is all but assured that Mike Green will NOT be a 2010 Olympian?

Lindsay Applebaum: Oh, man, who knows? He definitely hasn't made it easy for them, that's for sure. I'd take him, just for the green-on-Green. (Lame-o.)

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Inquiring minds want to know: Where was Ovie rated on the Hockey News list?

Lindsay Applebaum: He's second, right in between Gary Bettman and Bill Daly. Suure.

These lists are just ridiculous. Just call it what it is, "A completely unordered list of people we've written about this year."

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Washington, D.C.: Do you buy into the theory that Canada hates Ovechkin?

Lindsay Applebaum: Absolutely not. Canada hates O's that aren't followed by U's, but they don't hate Ovechkin. He's such a coloUrful character -- who could hate him?

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Derwood, MD: Are there any Americans left on the Caps?

Do you think that it was somewhat of a jerk move to have been planning this deal for months yet spring it so suddenly on the team captain?

And is Chimera basically filling the largely-unfilled void of enforcer?

And what better name is there for a hockey player than Chimera?

Lindsay Applebaum: 1. Derwood, you just hurt the feelings of Steckel, Pothier and Poti.

2. Not a jerk move, and not a calculated move.

3. Chimera is not an enforcer, but he is an agitator. It's a good thing.

4. Dustin Byfuglien.

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Fairfax, Va.: I believe this trade makes sense. The Caps needed someone who plays with an edge. Something we have not had since we let Matt Cooke leave. Agree?

Lindsay Applebaum: Agree. It's a pretty good deal for both sides. The young Blue Jackets get two well-liked, respected veterans in Clark and Juice, and the Caps get the double whammy of clearing some cap space and picking up a tough-guy winger who can actually play lefty.

Alrighty, I think we're out of time. Wish I could have gotten to all the questions, but maybe Tarik will be able do one of these things while he's out west. Ask 'em again next time!

Thanks for chatting.

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