It was really a no-brainer.
The Washington Capitals elected left wing Steve Konowalchuk captain, a post he shared last season with defenseman Brendan Witt. The voting was Tuesday and results were announced yesterday morning.
Witt, Calle Johansson, Peter Bondra and Jaromir Jagr were named alternates.
The 30-year-old Konowalchuk is the 12th captain in the club's 29-year history. He has never played for another NHL team.
"Kono is certainly qualified and well respected," said coach Bruce Cassidy, who opted weeks ago to allow the team to elect its own leader or leaders, ending years of having the captain named by management. "He leaves nothing on the bench or in the room; he goes out and gives it everything he's got every time."
The honor was not lost on Konowalchuk.
"For the players to vote for you, that means a lot. That's who you come out and play for, for each other," said Konowalchuk. "The players know its more than one guy who [contributes]. It's a nice honor but there are 10 guys who have to contribute. For the player, it's a nice thing but it's just back to work, don't say anything fancy, go out and do what you do."
Cassidy said Konowalchuk is a perfect role model.
"Different guys bring different things to the table but I'd love to see [the team] have his dedication to team play, to being team-first and to the organization," said Cassidy.
The coach and team also welcomed right wing Mike Grier, whom the Caps obtained Monday in a trade with Edmonton. Grier, 27, spent six seasons with the Oilers after three years at Boston University.
"He adds an element of speed, he can score, he gives you size to muck along the walls," Cassidy said of the 6-foot-1, 230-pound wing. "I think he'll be a good fit no matter where we play him. He's a great penalty-killer, a good two-way player. As a coach, you can't help but get excited about him."
Grier played the right side on Jeff Halpern's checking line yesterday with Konowalchuk on the left. He met both Caps when the three of them attended a U.S. Olympic hockey tryout camp a year ago.
"I'm just trying to fit in with those guys," Grier said. "They've played together for a while, found some good chemistry. I think it's somewhat like the role I played in Edmonton with Todd Marchant and Ethan Moreau. We just go out there, try to play hard, try to play the body a little bit, maybe chip in a few goals."
Notes Slightly fewer than 2,000 tickets were still available last night for tomorrow's season-opener at MCI Center against Nashville. After tomorrow night, the Caps' next home game is Oct.30. Doctors like what the exercises did for defenseman Calle Johansson's right shoulder so much that they prescribed some for his left shoulder, then gave him permission to open the season.
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