Caps brace themselves for life without hockey

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Caps brace themselves for life without hockey

Now what?Now that Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr have proclaimedthey are at an impasse in negotiations for a new Collective BargainingAgreement, and with no talks scheduled between now and Saturdaysmidnight deadline, NHL players will need to start making preparations for lifewithout hockey.Yeah, weve got to get our ducks in a row here becauseweve always been thinking, Oh, something will happen, something will happen.Capitals veteran left wing Jason Chimera said.What will happen on Sunday is that the Capitals lockerroom at Kettler Capitals Iceplex will be locked. If the players who remain inthe area want to keep in skating shape, theyll need to rent ice at Kettler.
There may be some ice available here at KCI and someother rinks around town, Chimera said. I think during the day, with kids inschool, there should be ice available. The prices are more for ice here than in Edmonton, thats forsure. I saw some of the prices to rent ice for an hour and I was like Holy !We better solve this soon or guys are going to need an ice-time stipend orsomething from the PA players association.Worse yet, players would be forced to do their own laundryand stock up on some air fresheners.Yeah, well have to put stuff on the patio, Chimera said.I dont think my wife will like my gear hanging in the house too much.With the possibility of a lockout looming, players were encouragedlast season to save one of their paychecks. And with escrow checks expected tobe delivered in mid-October, most players will not feel the financial pinch of alockout until early November, when the checks stop entirely.Now 36 with a wife and two school-age children, Chimera saidhell remain in the area until a settlement is reached. But in 2004, he remembersholding out the same hope for labor peace and endured an entire season withoutan NHL paycheck.I just kind of hung around hoping for something tohappen, said Chimera, who was a 25-year-old member of the Edmonton Oilers duringthe last lockout Some guys did three-on-three leagues for a bit, justtouring around, but eventually I went to Italy. One of my agents bestfriends was coaching a team, so I went there and played for a couple of months.It was a different experience, thats for sure.Back then, Chimera was dating his future wife and the twoapproached the trip to Italyas an adventure.We just kind of packed up and moved, he said. It wasjust the two of us so it was easy and it was neat to see different stops, but Iremember the feeling last time when the season got cancelled, I think it wasprobably one of the worst days.While the players and owners brought entirely differentproposals to the table in meetings this week in New York, few around the league believe thedifferences between the two side are great enough for them to surrender 3.3billion in annual revenue.Guys lifetimes in the NHL, the span during which theyplay, is pretty small, Chimera said. I think its five years, average, so ifyou lose two of those five years, its pretty drastic. It would be a shame tolose any time, thats for sure.And not just for the players. Chimera joked that a lockoutcould put some strain on a few hockey marriages, as well, saying his wife isalready pushing him out of the house after a summer of together time.She wants me to go on a road trip, seriously, hesaid. She wants to get rid of me. So its a weird feeling when this stuffhappens. Hopefully, something will get done.

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Rearranging priorities helped make 2015 Redskins more successful

Rearranging priorities helped make 2015 Redskins more successful

RICHMOND—Redskins training camp gets underway tomorrow here at the Bon Secours Training Center. The team has high expectations after winning the NFC East last year. The priorities have shifted since Jay Gruden took over as the head coach in 2014.

“I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1,” he said during a press conference during his first training camp. “We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions.”

That all sounds great but what about winning games? Where was that in the pecking order or priorities? The young guys and undrafted free agents can help you out here and there. But if you miss on a couple of them it’s not going to kill you. Failure to make preparing to win games during the coming season the top priority will kill you. The Redskins went 4-12.

Gruden was singing a different tune when he was asked what the priorities were as the team started camp a year ago.

“We’re trying to improve as a football team, number one,” he said near the start of training camp in 2015. “That’s all we’re trying to do every day is improve a certain area of our game. Then, we’re also trying to critique our players and find out who our best 53 are.”

So the emphasis on improving the team seemed to work as the Redskins went 9-7 and were surprise NFC East winners.

Sure, there’s an element of coach speak in all of this. But don’t underestimate the importance of what the head coach is focused on. If the coaches spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings trying to sort out the last half dozen players on the roster there is less time to prepare the starters for Week 1 and beyond.

I expect Gruden to order his priorities the same way this year. Focusing on the play at the top of the roster will bear more fruit that worrying about which fifth cornerback or tenth offensive lineman to keep.

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Wizards owner Ted Leonsis says Bradley Beal grew 'almost an inch'

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis says Bradley Beal grew 'almost an inch'

The Wizards annouced officially re-signing Bradley Beal will appropriate fanfare. The team rolled out the whole gang, including owner Ted Leonsis, general manager Ernie Grunfeld and new coach Scott Brooks. 

After Beal's media availability, Leonsis tweeted that the shooting guard had grown nearly an inch. He also shared a selfie with Grunfeld and the man of the hour. 

It's unclear the time period in question, whether Leonsis means since last season ended or perhaps over the past year.

Fans might expect a 23-year-old had stopped growing, but while it's not the norm, continuing to grow into the early 20s certainly happens. 

Some examples? Paul George started his rookie year with the Pacers at 6-8. He returned for his sophomore season 1.5 inches taller. And while the team still lists his height at 6-9, outside reports peg him closer to 6-10 or 6-11. 

Bulls great Scottie Pippen and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo are other notable examples. 

So back to Beal. He was listed as 6-5 last season. It will be interesting to see whether his official height is updated to 6-6 this year. 

When asked about his growth spurt during his press conference, Beal estimated he's gained "about an inch." 

"One is better than none," he said smiling. 

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Cousins on contract: 'Don't think we really did' get close to a deal

Cousins on contract: 'Don't think we really did' get close to a deal

In his first time speaking out since officially being franchise tagged on July 15, Kirk Cousins confirmed what most who followed his negotiations thought to be true: He and the Redskins weren't exactly on the same page.

"I don't think we really did," the quarterback said on 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny show Wednesday when asked if the two sides ever got close to a deal. As he talked more about his contract situation, however, he made it clear that he's harboring no hard feelings against his team despite the fact he didn't receive a new extension.

"I always said going back to the end of last season that I wanted to play where I’m wanted," Cousins explained. "The franchise tag showed that I am wanted. Now, maybe not beyond this year, but I am wanted."

That relaxed outlook is something the 27-year-old has maintained all offseason. He pointed out that a few other players around the league were tagged as well, and thinks it's something that can easily be handled in the future. But don't let Cousins' steady demeanor totally fool you.

He's still going to do whatever he can to show his doubters that he's deserving of a long-term deal — and the massive dollar amount that'll come with it.

"I feel good about having this one season to prove myself and see what I can do," he said. "I think I do relish the opportunity to prove to people I’m capable of playing well and being here for a long time."

The end of that quote makes it sound like Cousins does still envision a future in Washington. His performance in 2016 will go a long way in determining whether that feeling is mutual.

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