- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004

In an ironic piece of scheduling, the Washington Capitals get to face former teammate Jaromir Jagr tonight at Madison Square Garden, five days after trading the perennial All-Star to the New York Rangers for fellow right wing Anson Carter.

“It’s going to be weird for Jags, for Anson and for the rest of us, but it’s business so we’ll all get through it,” said Caps defenseman Brendan Witt, who likely will battle Jagr much of the night. “The first period will be a little weird, but after that we’ll just play hockey. I don’t think Jags will do anything special because it’s us. He’s always creative. It will be like when we played him when he was with Pittsburgh all those years. I’ll try to rattle him, but he’s going to know I’ll be coming after him.”

Caps All-Star center Robert Lang, Jagr’s road roommate and teammate in Washington and Pittsburgh, said he hadn’t talked to his former linemate since the trade. After scoring three points Monday to lead the Rangers to a 5-2 victory in his first home game in New York, Jagr said he wasn’t looking forward to facing Lang and Co. so soon.

“It’s going to be a difficult game for me,” said Jagr, who was traded because his $11million salary was too much of a burden for the last-place Caps to bear. “I’ve got a lot of friends there. There are a lot of guys I spent a lot of time with for 2 years. But I’m going to do my best and try to move on.”

That’s what Caps coach Glen Hanlon wants his team to do, too.

“There will be electricity in the building, but we want to feed off of it, not get caught up in it,” Hanlon said. “That’s [the Rangers’] obligation. We don’t have any vendettas or axes to grind with Jags.”

Carter, who’s filling Jagr’s spot alongside Lang and Jeff Halpern, is taking a low-key approach to the reunion because he was only a Ranger for 10 months and 54 games.

“I’m not going to get caught up in trying to match what Jagr is doing out there,” said Carter, who has 17 points in 44 games compared to Jagr’s 48 points in 48 games. “I’m more concerned about winning than about facing my old team. I do have a lot of good friends on the Rangers like Jamie Lundmark, Tom Poti, Jussi Markkanen, Dale Purinton and Chris Simon, but I wasn’t even in New York for a year. It will be good to say goodbye to some of the people who work at Madison Square Garden and were very good to me.”

Notes — Defenseman Josef Boumedienne returned to practice after being sidelined for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia with a stomach virus. With Boumedienne back, the Caps opted not to recall anyone from Portland of the American Hockey League, so forward Kip Miller will be the only healthy scratch tonight. … Caps goalie Olie Kolzig is putting himself on the line for NHL charities. Kolzig will be the goalie for one fan who will fire pucks on net during the Stanley Cup Finals. The winner will be selected in shootouts to take place at NHL games in 12 markets, including Washington, during the next two months. Area champions will receive expense-paid trips to the finals where they will compete for the right to face Kolzig. Nextel will donate $500 for every goal scored during the semifinals, up to $25,000, to NHL Diversity, a subsidiary of the NHL Foundation.


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