- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2011

In dollars and common sense, Jason Chimera’s two-year extension worth $3.5 million that the Washington Capitals announced Thursday isn’t on par with deals signed by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom or even Brooks Laich.

But it’s yet another step toward keeping a core group of players together — a bunch with aspirations of winning the Stanley Cup.

“We believe that we have the group that can win in here. You want to win with all of these guys,” Laich said. “You want to get the job done with these guys. You don’t want to see people moved out of town and potentially miss out on something special.”

Something special is just what Chimera thinks he’s already a part of. The affable 32-year-old wing with blazing speed and an infectious personality called living in Old Town Alexandria a “dream world,” and gushed about staying with the Caps.

So when the team approached him about an extension, it was a “no-brainer” because of the niche Chimera has carved here and the potential for playoff success.

“Any time you’ve got a place where you win hockey games — I’m not a dummy knowing how good this team is, and you want to be here a long time,” Chimera said. “Any time they come to you and ask if you want an extension, you say ‘Sure’ and kind of just work out the details from there.”

The details turned out to be a contract that will take Chimera through the 2013-14 season, as he makes $1.8 million next year and $1.7 million the following year. General manager George McPhee was not made available for comment to discuss the extension.

As far as statistics go, Chimera managed 10 goals last season but also had two playoff game-winning goals — including one in double overtime that helped the Caps take command of their series against the Rangers.

“We do think that he’s got the potential to get between 15 and 20 goals,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “And he seemed to score the big goal at the big time for us.”

Speed is undoubtedly the veteran’s biggest asset, so much so that Boudreau proclaimed: “Nobody can skate as well as Chimera.” Teammate Jeff Schultz likened his first few powerful strides to those of Blue Jackets All-Star Rick Nash.

But it’s inside the locker room where Chimera shines. In hockey, “character” guys are valued, and Chimera fits that bill.

“He brings a lot of easiness to everybody and kind of lightens the mood with his humor, and he does it at the right time, kind of just takes the edge off things when things are going tough,” Schultz said. “He’s there to put a smile on everyone’s face.”

Versatility seems to be Chimera’s thing, too. Schultz said Chimera can be counted on for the odd joke, sound effect or even mocking voice to get the laughs going. And Boudreau noted how Chimera can play all situations and on both wings.

“Sometimes, it’s guys like him that do the work to win hockey games, Laich said. “It’s nice to see good guys get rewarded. Jason’s evidence of that.”

But for Chimera, this is only a precursor to the reward he wants. And staying with the Caps, he believes, can get him there.

“Every year you get a chance to win a Stanley Cup. I think that’s a big thing. I grew up in Edmonton where you watch these teams stay together and they do good things every year,” Chimera said. “It’s just one of those teams that you could see yourself being a part of for a long time.”



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