Well, if you clicked on this and expected to see George McPhee blasting Michael Nylander and his camp for making the team wait so long before agreeing to leave, you are going to be disappointed. McPhee, Bruce Bodureau and his former teammates all had good things to say about Nylander and both the coach and general manager said they don’t expect the team to go shopping right away with their newfound cap space.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Boudreau said. “We’ve had three mediocre games but at this stage today we’re still No. 1 in the league. It is not like, ‘Oh, OK I’ve got some money for Christmas so I’m going to go out and buy everything.’ That’s not the case. We’re very happy with the team we have.”
Added McPhee: “I don’t know if it changes anything from before. There are a lot of ways to work with the cap if really want to do some things you can. There’s more flexibility in the cap than we were led to believe early on. I don’t know how much it changes things – we’re not going to do anything right now anyway. We like our team and we like the way we are playing.”
McPhee said there were issues that held up Nylander’s departure that were unforseen, specifically “tax issues that would have been really hard for Mike, so things of that nature got in the way from time to time. It was just important to find the right place for him.”
The Caps GM said Nylander was told after the season ended last year that something like this was on the horizon.
“He was never told to leave. We just made it clear last spring that the year didn’t go the way he wanted or we wanted and maybe it was time to look at something else,” McPhee said. “They way our team developed he just wasn’t a good fit. There’s not much you can do – that happens in this business.”
Nicklas Backstrom said Nylander, and his family, were great to him when he first arrived in DC, but he understands that this is a business.
In other news, Karl Alzner is one happy guy to be back at this point specifically in the schedule. He grew up in what he deemed about a 15-20 minute drive from GM Place in Burnaby, B.C., and now will have a chance to play there as an NHL player for the first time. He said he’s played a couple junior games there and a game for Team Canada.
Alzner requested four tickets to this game (mom, dad, sister, sister’s boyfriend) from team services manager Ian Anderson about six weeks ago — even if he wasn’t going to be there. Now he is, and they will get to see him play. He said other relatives and friends are scrambling to get tickets. It isn’t that easy to get them through the team when the Caps play in Western Canada because they have so many guys who are from there — Anderson told Alzner that if he hadn’t made that request so long ago the tickets wouldn’t be available.
Boyd Gordon practiced with the team today. He said he’s been skating for four days on his own. He said it is a lower-back muscle issue, and he’s got a new pre-practice/game routine to go through to combat the problem. He thinks it will be about a week of skating and practicing before he can see if he’s ready to play again. Gordon will go on the trip.
Boudreau said he expects Semyon Varlamov to skate tomorrow in Denver (last week he said today was the target date). He said the team will be cautious, in part because Boudreau said they felt Varlamov might have been brought back too soon from a similar problem last season, but also didn’t rule out him playing at the end of the week.
As for why Kyle Wilson is here and Mathieu Perreault is not:
“We just thought [Perreault] was slipping a little bit,” Boudreau said. “He’s a young guy who had one point in his last nine games. He just wasn’t bringing the energy he could bring.”