Nat'l Christmas Tree Lottery Open Oct. 31-Nov. 4

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Nat'l Christmas Tree Lottery Open Oct. 31-Nov. 4

It's that time of year again, and no, we don't mean Halloween. The online lottery for the National Christmas Tree Lighting opened at 10 a.m. Thursday and runs through 10 a.m. Monday.

Those who want to attend can enter for the chance to win free tickets by going to www.thenationaltree.org and clicking the "ticket lottery" link, or by calling 877-444-6777 (TDD 877-833-6777).

Tickets for 3,000 seats and 14,000 standing-room spots are available through the lottery.

Winners will be notified by email by Nov. 7, and can also check the status of their requests starting Nov. 7 by signing in to www.recreation.gov. The lighting ceremony will be held Friday, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m.

Last year's entertainment included performances by The Fray, James Taylor, Ledisi, Jason Mraz, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and Phillip Phillips.

President Barack Obama said in his remarks at last year's ceremony that the tree -- which has been replaced twice after the long-standing National Christmas Tree was felled by high winds in February 2011 -- was a symbol of rebuilding and strength as much of the East Coast continued to recover from Superstorm Sandy.

"In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we've always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle," Obama said. "But our tree has been having a hard time recently. ... Just goes to show, nobody's job is safe here in Washington."

Changes to the annual celebration last year included a new stage location to better showcase the White House behind it, a new color scheme for the tree, and, of course, the tree itself.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

John Carlson reacts to news of Bruce Boudreau firing

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John Carlson reacts to news of Bruce Boudreau firing

Bruce Boudreau was John Carlson’s first NHL coach back in the 2009-10 season and on Friday the Caps’ 26-year-old defenseman said he was unhappy to see Boudreau fired as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.

“That’s just the nature of the business, I guess,” Carlson said. “You never want to see a coach get fired. It’s a business. I don’t make those calls, don’t make those decisions, don’t break down those games.”

In the NHL, Boudreau has a career record of 1-7 in Game 7s in the playoffs, including four straight Game 7 defeats with the Ducks, who hired him two days after the Capitals fired him on Nov. 28, 2011.

Many believe Boudreau will get a third opportunity to coach in the NHL, perhaps in Ottawa or Minnesota, where the Senators and Wild are seeking to fill head coaching vancancies. 

“He’s a great coach,” Carlson said. “You never want to see a guy get fired. That’s for sure.”

Boudreau has a regular season record of 409-192-80, but is 41-40 in the playoffs.

Capitals playing preseason game in Kansas City

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Capitals playing preseason game in Kansas City

If the NHL has any intention of putting an expansion franchise in Kansas City, the Capitals might be able to give the league a scouting report.

The Capitals announced on Friday they will face the St. Louis Blues in Kansas City on Oct. 5 in a preseason game at the new Sprint Center.

Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie is scheduled to face his former team in the game. Oshie was selected by the Blues in the first round, 24th overall, in the 2005 NHL Draft. Oshie appeared in 443 games with the Blues from 2008-15, registering 310 points (110g, 200a) and 239 penalty minutes. The Everett, Wash., native was acquired by the Capitals on July 2, 2015.

Kansas City was last awarded an NHL team the same year the Capitals entered the league in 1974. But the Kansas City Scouts lasted just two seasons in Kemper Arena before moving to Denver as the Colorado Rockies.

Tickets for the Oct. 5 game will go on sale on Tuesday, May 3 at noon at SprintCenter.com, the Price Chopper Box Office at Sprint Center or by phone at 888-929-7849. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more by calling Sprint Center Group Sales at 816-929-7177 or by emailing grouptickets@sprintcenter.com.

The Capitals will host the Blues at Verizon Center on Oct. 3. The full NHL schedule is expected to come out in late June.

Report: Kings open to trading DeMarcus Cousins

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Report: Kings open to trading DeMarcus Cousins

The Kings finished the season with a 33-49 record, missing the playoffs for the 10th year in a row. The team fired head coach George Karl after one season at the helm in which there was obvious conflict with star center DeMarcus Cousins. 

But Karl's ouster doesn't necessarily signal Sacramento's committment to Cousins. According to a report by the Sacramento Bee, general manager Vlade Divac is considering trading the All-Star big man for the first time. 

A year ago, Cousins was untouchable. A year later, the sense within the organization is Divac is tempted by the prospect of pairing his center with his personally selected coach but that he has become increasingly frustrated by his center’s ongoing issues and, for the first time, is willing to test the market for the two-time All-Star.

Karl has plenty of company. The disconnect between Karl and Divac, and Karl and Cousins, is rivaled closely by the discord within the fragmented locker room. Apart from Rondo, Cousins has few friends among his teammates. Several players privately have complained to management about his mood swings and disrespect for those around him, including his coaches and in particular Karl.

It's hard to imagine the Kings going through with a move to ship their best player out of Sacramento, but they may be hoping to scare him straight. Years of insisting to the media that Cousins wasn't going anywhere likely emboldened, and possibly exhacerbated, moody behavior. 

But if Divac is serious about moving on, he'll find no shortage of suitors for the two-time All-Star center. 

First in line would be Wizards fans, who have been vocal about wanting to reunite point guard John Wall with his former Kentucky teammate and close friend, Cousins. 

There's a lot to love about Cousins' game, obviously. He averaged 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season, and he's not even a liability at the free throw line (71.8%). But his volatility shows on the court -- he gives inconsistent effort on defense and led the NBA in technical fouls last season with 17. 

Sacramento will be asking for a lot in return for one of the game's best big men. And the Wizards, for their part, don't have a whole lot to offer with only six players under contract (seven if you assume they re-sign Bradley Beal). 

This is a watch and wait situation.