The newest member of the Washington Capitals knew he was joining one of the elite teams in the NHL, but he probably didn’t expect to spend his first practice with the club on a line with two of the most talented players in the league.
Caps coach Bruce Boudreau put Jason Chimera on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin for his first workout since being traded from Columbus for Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina on Monday.
“Knowing me, it is a trial and error thing,” Boudreau told reporters after practice. “We’ll put him someplace and if it doesn’t work after one period, we will put him somewhere else. But he’s going to play, and we’re looking for big things from him.”
Added Chimera: “It was pretty fun playing with those guys, even if it is just for a practice. There are a lot of highly skilled guys on this team, and I can’t wait to get going with them.”
Chimera is expected to help the Caps with his size, skating ability and physical play. Still, Boudreau putting him with the second line in his revamped lineup shows Washington will be counting on his offensive ability as well.
Eleven players have scored at least 60 goals and logged at least 360 penalty minutes since the lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season. Chimera is one of the eight forwards on a list that includes some of the top power forwards in the league.
“Obviously when you first make it [to the NHL], you’re an energy guy, and I fought quite a bit the first couple years I played. You’ve got to get yourself in the lineup and do what it takes,” Chimera said. “I am still an energy kind of guy who plays up-tempo and is a good forechecker. I think I can score some goals, too, when called upon. Hopefully I can bring that here.”
Chimera will make his debut in a Caps uniform Wednesday night at San Jose. The past two days have been a bit of a whirlwind for him. After learning of the trade Monday afternoon, he packed some belongings and flew to the District. He had just enough time to pass a physical and catch a ride to Dulles Airport with Brooks Laich for a cross-country flight.
It may take Chimera a couple of days to settle back into his normal routine.
“A couple of the guys asked me if I wanted to go out, but I kind of just want to stay in my hotel room and sleep,” he said. “It was definitely a shock to be traded, but it is good to be out on the road for a few days to get to know the guys.”
While Chimera has fought less as his NHL career has progressed, Caps fans probably know him best as the guy who gave Alex Ovechkin a little nudge near the team’s bench last month. Ovechkin was injured in the ensuing fracas.
After completing the trade, general manager George McPhee joked that Ovechkin and Chimera could “scrap” Tuesday at practice to work out their differences. Both parties decided that was unnecessary.
“[Ovechkin] joked about it,” Chimera said. “I told him I hope he isn’t mad at me, but then he said he’s not even sure how he was hurt. There were a lot of guys involved in that.”