- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2011

“Transition Game: The Story of the 2010-11 Washington Capitals,” by Washington Times web producer Ted Starkey, chronicles a unique season in the NHL.

From being on the ice as the Hershey Bears captured their second consecutive Calder Cup to an HBO reality series and playing in the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh to the season’s end in the second round of the playoffs, take a look inside a campaign that was filled with ups and downs.

“Transition Game” is now available in hardback through Lulu.com, and digitally on iTunes. Readers interested in an autographed copy of the book can also contact the author at [email protected] or on Twitter at @TedStarkey.

The following chapter tells of the team returning to training camp in September, 2010, looking to atone for its stunning first-round upset loss to the Montreal Canadiens and trying to “stay angry.”

The last time the team was together at the suburban Virginia complex had been four months before. Washington’s players met a day after their Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens to meet with media and meet their coaches for evaluations and the tough task of packing up their gear and belongings before splitting up for the summer.

The team also had the difficult task of trying to explain to reporters just how its 121-point Presidents’ Trophy season unraveled in just five short days, losing a 3-1 series edge against the eighth-seeded Habs with three straight losses.

The modern twin-rink facility on top of a shopping mall in Arlington that opened in 2006 is one of the best in the NHL and has a lot of bells and whistles, but it certainly lacked what the team was really looking for that April day: a reset button to erase the previous season’s meltdown.

“They got to camp, and nobody wanted to be at camp, they wanted to be in the playoffs,” the team’s then-vice president of communications Nate Ewell recalled. “It was just all a long preamble that you had to get through.”

Reporters got the vibe from the players that unlike previous campaigns in Washington that had seen some Hart Trophy-winning performances from their captain and three Southeast Division titles and a Presidents’ Trophy, the regular season was just an 82-game grind to get to before they could try and focus on having some playoff success.

“I think the Caps were totally focused on what they could do to be better once the playoffs started,” Ed Frankovic of WNST in Baltimore said of the team’s mood as camp opened. “It was clear that the regular season didn’t matter much to them.

“[General manager] George McPhee said that to me on Media Day. He said the only thing that mattered to him was a long playoff run. So if the man at the helm is saying that, then the players were likely thinking the same way.”

But, of course, before you can actually qualify for the playoffs, there is the long marathon of camp, preseason and regular season games.

So the team returned to work wearing T-shirts that said “Stay Angry.”

“That’s the way everyone feels about the way things ended last season,” McPhee said of the shirts. “For six-and-a-half months, we had a fabulous season, and in five days, we lost it.”

“I think it’s done,” Alex Ovechkin said of the Montreal series. “It’s a new season. No looking back. … It was a long summer. I missed hockey.”

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