- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

The Washington Capitals yesterday signed enforcer Donald Brashear to a one-year contract for $1 million.

Brashear, 34, has played for the Philadelphia Flyers for the past four seasons.

It is the Caps’ third significant move since free agency began on July 1. They also have signed free agent defenseman Brian Pothier and re-acquired right wing Richard Zednik from Montreal for a third-round draft pick next June.

The Caps, who need to stop other teams from taking cheap shots at their skilled players on the top two lines, acquired Brashear because of his reputation as an enforcer. Brashear, a left wing, has spent nearly 28.9 minutes in the penalty box for each of his 75 goals scored in 12 seasons.

“We want to continue to be a tough team to play against, a team that competes hard, skates hard and hits hard,” Caps general manager George McPhee said, “and certainly Brashear is that type of player. He’s one of those gritty, tough guys who can also play the game.”

Rookie of the year Alex Ovechkin was roughed up numerous times during his 52-goal, 106-point season, but the Caps didn’t have anyone in their lineup to respond, so Ovechkin had to do so himself.

“A few people bumped into Ovechkin last year but it seemed to me that Ovechkin hit a lot more people than hit him,” McPhee said. “You always like to have this element in your lineup but some years it’s not available. It was this summer.”

Brashear played in Vancouver from the 1997-98 to the 2000-01 seasons, the same time McPhee was with the Canucks as an assistant general manager and Glen Hanlon as an assistant coach. McPhee and Hanlon, now the Caps’ coach, both wanted to acquire Brashear.

Although Brashear is an enforcer, his most famous hockey moment came on the receiving end of a hit.

In a game against Boston on Feb. 21, 2000, Bruins defenseman Marty McSorley hit Brashear with his stick on the right side of Brashear’s head, giving him a concussion. Brashear missed 20 games, and McSorley was suspended for the rest of the season, never playing in the NHL again.

The addition of the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Brashear solidifies Washington’s left side — Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Matt Pettinger and Brashear. That means Tomas Fleischmann, among others, will have to learn to play the other side if they want a role on the team.

The Caps also signed two more free agents yesterday, both forwards probably ticketed for the minors — Alexandre Giroux and Chad Wiseman.

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