- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The Washington Capitals yesterday announced the signing of their third first-round selection from the 2002 draft class and also released the club’s 2003-04 schedule.

The Caps also introduced a new logo noting the club’s 30th anniversary. It features the team’s colors — black, bronze, blue and white — as well as the Capitol dome. The logo will appear at center ice at MCI Center and on the players’ helmets.

Washington said it had signed left wing Alexander Semin to a three-year contract. The native of Krasjonarsk, Russia, was picked 13th overall in 2002, one spot behind defenseman Steve Eminger and four spots ahead of right wing-center Boyd Gordon. Eminger and Gordon are currently taking part in the team’s development camp and will be at training camp.

It is not known if Semin will be at camp this fall, but it is team policy not to sign players until they are at least on the verge of playing in the NHL. At 19, Semin made a huge jump last season when he went from playing for a second division team in the Russian league to playing with Lada Togliatta in the Russian elite league, appearing in 47 regular-season games and 10 playoff games.

In addition, Semin was a member of the Russian national team that took part in this spring’s IIHF World Championships in Helsinki.

The Caps play their first two games at home, Oct.9 against the New York Islanders and Oct.11 against Atlanta, before hitting the road for six straight while MCI Center houses a horse show. But that is the club’s longest road swing of the season; there are two five-game home stands.

Two traditional dates on the Caps’ calendar, Thanksgiving Eve and Super Bowl Sunday, were eliminated. No explanation was immediately available.

The most significant part of the schedule involves divisional and conference play. This season each club plays six games (24 total) against each of its divisional rivals, four more than last season. It also will play four games against all non-division clubs in the conference (40 total), one game against each club from the Western Conference (15 total) and three other games against non-conference opponents.

The regular season ends April4, the earliest date since 1991, when the campaign ended March31. The playoffs begin April7, with the latest possible date for a postseason game June7.

This season will also see the league’s first regularly scheduled outdoor game when Montreal visits Edmonton on Nov.22 in 50,000-seat Commonwealth Stadium. The game will be one of the highlights of the Oilers’ 25th season and will be played on the 86th anniversary of the NHL’s birth in Montreal.

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