- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

The NHL last night canceled 11 exhibition games scheduled for Saturday night after Tuesday's terrorist strikes against targets in New York City and Washington. A decision on the rest of the weekend is expected today.

That means the Washington Capitals' first preseason game tomorrow night against Philadelphia at MCI Center is wiped off the books. The team also is scheduled to play Boston on Sunday night in Portland, Maine.

A league source said NHL officials were worried about how it would look if it played meaningless exhibition games while other sports were postponing or canceling regular-season contests.

Meanwhile, Dmitri Mironov, the Washington defenseman who underwent two back operations in his three years with the team, retired yesterday because of continuing medical problems. He played only 36 games last season before back pain forced him to the sideline and a second operation reportedly did not resolve the situation.

The Caps hope to make a major roster cut Monday, at least splitting the current 60-plus camp roster into two groups. The group of players expected to make the NHL roster will fly to Texas, train there for a week, and play preseason games Sept. 21 against the Stars in Dallas and Sept. 22 against Tampa Bay in Houston.

Also, the Baltimore Ravens invited the Caps to their home game Monday night against Minnesota, if it is played. That bumped the Caps' planned flight to Dallas back two days because no planes are available Tuesday.

Piney Orchard Ice Arena was standing room only yesterday for the team's first full workout. One of the first drills featured newcomer Jaromir Jagr going one-on-one against Brendan Witt, with the defenseman eventually stripping the right wing of the puck. That brought a huge cheer from the fans.

Jagr was greeted warmly by the fans when he first appeared, as were some of the more recognizable Washington players. But the loudest round of applause went to goalie Olie Kolzig when he came out with the second group.

Rookie Matt Pettinger could hardly hide his excitement at starting camp as the left wing with center Adam Oates and Jagr.

"The guy in the middle, a Hall of Famer, one of the best passers of all time," Pettinger said of Oates. "And you have the best player in the world [Jagr] on the right side. Unbelievable. You can get caught up a little out there just watching those guys. But if you get open and drive to the net, they'll find you."

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