NHL lockout 2012: Washington Capitals impacted by league shutdown
The latest NHL lockout - the league's third since 1994 - is well underway, and Washington Capitals players are already examining other places to play while the league remains shut down.
Many eyeballs, understandably, are on team captain and superstar center Alexander Ovechkin. According to the Yahoo! Sports blog Puck Daddy, the Capitals centerpiece is preparing to play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.
The KHL is Russia's top-flight professional hockey league and may be a landing spot for several prominent NHL players during the lockout. Among them is defending league MVP and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin, who was one of two players who signed with a KHL team earlier this week.
Capitals backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth is also on the move, as the Washington Post reports that he'll join up with a team in the Czech Republic.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league's 30 owners locked out its players at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, the precise moment that the league's collective bargaining agreement ran out. That CBA was crafted in the aftermath of a disastrous lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
Other players, such as goaltender Braden Holtby and forward Dmitri Orlov, will head back to the Hershey Bears, the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate. Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times has more about other members of the roster and their plans for the lockout.
Leonsis: "We all appreciate your loyalty"
Undeniably, the loser in this entire ordeal is the fans, who will once again have to go without professional hockey for the foreseeable future.
In a letter to season ticket holders that was mailed out a few days before the lockout began, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said that the top priority for the league and his fellow owners was to reach an agreement with the NHLPA.
"We all want to talk about exciting games, upcoming opponents and great plays, not the nuances of labor negotiation," Leonsis wrote.
The Capitals owner assured ticket holders that fans will not be charged for any preseason or regular season games that are not played and that they will not owe anything on payment plans until the lockout ends.
You can read the full text of Leonsis' letter at Russian Machine Never Breaks.
Training camp already delayed, preseason in jeopardy
The Capitals were supposed to begin training camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston on Monday, but with the lockout imposed, that obviously did not happen.
As the work stoppage continues, it seems likely that the NHL's preseason schedule will not start on time. The Capitals are supposed to play their first exhibition game on Sept. 25 against the Boston Bruins at the Verizon Center.
If the lockout continues through September, the start of the regular season is in jeopardy as well. Washington is set to open their season at home against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 12.
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