Firefighters Vote “No Confidence” in D.C. Fire Chief

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Firefighters Vote “No Confidence” in D.C. Fire Chief

D.C. Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Ellerbe received a majority vote of no confidence Monday morning by D.C. firefighters.

With a vote of 300 to 37 by the members of the D.C. Fire Fighters Association, Ellerbe was given a no confidence vote due to his “two year record of failed leadership.”

“Chief Ellerbe is ethically bankrupt; and his poor managerial practices places our members and the public needlessly in harm’s way,” according to a statement released by Ed Smith, president D.C. Fire Fighters Association Local 36. The statement goes on to say that Chief Ellerbe “has needlessly endangered the public through excessive delays in response due to staffing and fleet mismanagement, and dangerous situations for the fire fighters who are sworn to protect the citizens and visitors of our city.”

"Despite the 'no confidence' vote tallied by the local firefighters union, I am very optimistic about the department’s future and encouraged by the service we provide to District residents and visitors," read a statement released by Chief Ellerbe. "I remain deeply committed to resolving the issues before us. I look forward to strengthening our capabilities and putting our resources to better use in order to uphold the confidence of those we serve every day."

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul A. Quander Jr. released a statement saying, “I have every confidence that Chief Kenneth Ellerbe will continue to work to provide the best fire and emergency medical services to the residents of the District of Columbia. He will continue to stay focused on the work at hand to push for better service deliver. I continue to support the chief and his efforts to modernize and move the agency forward. There remains significant work to be done. The best way to achieve that goal is working together.”

A small group of Ellerbe supporters showed up to protest the vote. Some said it was racially biased, News4’s Mark Segraves reported. The fire department is majority white, and most of those voting Monday were white.

News4 was invited inside the meeting to see the votes counted but was quickly stopped by those fearing retaliation for their vote.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has backed Ellerbe with support despite the scrutiny the department has faced over the last few months.

A report by the D.C. Inspector General’s Office earlier this month said the department’s ambulance fleet had dangerous gaps in coverage and a “dangerously high and unaddressed attrition rate of paramedics that threatens the lives of D.C. residents everyday who are in medical distress.”

“The public’s safety is at risk and every member of this department is at risk,” Smith said.

In three separate incidents the department has been criticized about not responding to emergency calls soon enough. In one case three D.C. Fire and EMS ambulances that were supposed to be on duty the night an injured police officer was waiting for help were improperly out of service and did not respond to the calls. In other incidents a person died of a heart attack after waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance, and a stroke victim was taken to the hospital in a fire engine because the ambulance was seven miles away.

Although Monday’s vote does not carry legal significance, it does put increased pressure on the department to institute changes. Fire Chief Ellerbe is scheduled to appear Thursday before the City Council’s Public Safety Committee to explain the information submitted on the maintenance of fire trucks and engines.

In 2001 the union voted no confidence in Chief Ronnie Few, who also came under fire for management problems, Segraves reported. He resigned six months later.

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Williams: 'We were getting embarrassed out there'

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Williams: 'We were getting embarrassed out there'

If the Capitals hope to get past the Pittsburgh Penguins and make it to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era they’re going to need to start possessing the puck a lot more than they have in the first two games of their second-round playoff series.

“Call it what it was,” Capitals right wing Justin Williams said of the Caps’ 2-1 loss to the Penguins in Game 2 Saturday night at Verizon Center. “The first two periods the ice was tilted a little bit, no doubt. Good for them. They came in desperately and we didn’t answer until the third and it turned out to be too late.”

The Penguins outshot the Capitals 28-10 in the opening 40 minutes of Game 2 but held only a 1-0 lead thanks to the goaltending of Braden Holtby. The Caps turned the tables in the third period by owning a 14-7 shot advantage, but after Marcus Johansson tied the score on a power-play goal, Pittsburgh’s Eric Fehr won it with 4:28 to play.

“That was a huge goal,” Fehr said. “We weren’t happy letting them back in it with their power-play goal. We were just able to fight back and get the lead back. It’s difficult against a team like that. They had a lot of momentum in the third, and you could tell they were kind of feeding off the crowd and (Pens goalie Matt) Murray made some huge saves for us and gave a chance to get back in it.”

Williams said the Caps needed to give themselves a pep talk after the first two periods. They’ve been outshot 80-59 in the first two games of the series.

“We talked between the second and third, knowing we were getting embarrassed out there,” Williams said.

Williams drew the interference penalty that led to Johansson’s game-tying goal 4:08 into the final period, but the Caps’ second line has been silent the entire post-season with zero goals at even strength.

“We certainly recognize it and know we need to be better for us to win and advance,” Williams said.

The Capitals also gave the Penguins 10 minutes of power-play time with minor penalties to Brooks Orpik (interference), Taylor Chorney (roughing), Evgeny Kuznetsov (goaltender interference) and a too-many-men infraction.

“You’re leaving a lot of pretty talented players on the bench when you’re killing a bunch of penalties,” Caps coach Barery Trotz said. “First two periods, I thought they were way better than us.”

The Caps are a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill this series and have killed off 30 of 31 shorthanded situations in the playoffs.

“Great again, guys have been doing a great job,” said Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 33 of 35 shots. “Obviously, everyone knows they’re pretty good on the power play. Hopefully, it isn’t called that way again but we battled through it.”

For as much as the Penguins dominated play, the Caps had a chance to go ahead with just under 6 minutes to play when Mike Richards sent an open shot from the slot wide left.  

“I thought we all thought we were going to win when Richie had that point-blank chance that just rolls off the stick,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said.

If so, it might have been fool’s gold because the Penguins have played better hockey for longer stretches of the first two games of the series.

“To be honest, we gave the puck away to them and that can’t happen,” said Nicklas Backstrom, who rebounded from a tough Game 1 by winning 18 of his 20 faceoffs, most of them against Sidney Crosby (1-for-14).

“We make lots of turnovers, make bad decisions,” Ovechkin said. “We didn’t have any traffic in front of the net. We have to find a different way to take the puck to the net.”

They’ll get that chance Monday night in Pittsburgh.

Caps' defensive depth will be put to the test with possible Orpik suspension

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Caps' defensive depth will be put to the test with possible Orpik suspension

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Taylor Chorney played in place of Dmitry Orlov in Game 2 on Saturday night and he may be thrust into action again for Game 3 if Brooks Orpik is suspended by the NHL for his hit to defenseman Olli Maatta.

In the first period, Maatta took the puck in the offensive zone and shot on Holtby from the face off circle. As he began turning he received a high hit from Orpik and sent him to the ice. The play came several seconds after Maatta had already released the puck.

You can watch the play here.

Maatta had to be helped off the ice and did not return. Orpik was assessed a two-minute minor for interference. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was very critical of the hit following the game.

"I thought it was a late hit," Sullivan said. "I thought it was a target to his head. I think it's the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game."

RELATED: Orpik may face discipline after Game 2 hit

Barry Trotz said he talked to Orpik about the hit who explained to him that he thought the rebound from Maatta's original shot was going back to Maatta which is why he chose to follow through on the hit. The Caps' coach defended Orpik, but said they would respect the league's decision if there was any supplemental disciline.

"We'll let the league handle it," Trotz said. "If you know anything about Brooks, he plays had, he plays clean. He's not a dirty player."

If a suspension is forthcoming, Trotz will again have to dip into his team's defensive depth.

After a miscue by Orlov in Game 1 led to a Penguins' goal, Trotz benched Orlov for much of the third period and then elected to dress Chorney for Game 2.

As a former Penguin, Chorney brought experience to the lineup as he suited up against his former teammates. He made one of the defensive plays of the game as he was able to catch Bryan Rust on a breakaway and sweep away the puck without taking a penalty.

Overall, Chorney said he was satisfied with his performance on Saturday.

"It felt good. It's fun to get in there and play in an environment like that, playing at home against a real good team like Pittsburgh. ... It's good experience to get out there and compete against those guys. It would have been nice to get a better result, but overall I think it went pretty well."

Heading into the playoffs, defensive depth was considered a strength for the Caps as the team carried eight blueliners on the roster. Having bodies you can plug into the lineup is one thing, but defensive depth doesn't mean much if the coach doesn't trust the players on the bottom of the depth chart.

Through the first period, Chorney had only 2:44 of ice time while his partner, Nate Schmidt, had 2:28. Matt Niskanen, by comparison, had 9:25. Chorney finished the game with 10:50 of ice time total.

Trotz praised Chorney's play after the game saying but the lack of playing time for the third pairing seems to suggest the Caps coach may not have much faith in his third defensive pairing.

That's not a knock on Chorney specifically as both Schmidt and Orlov have spent some extended time on the bench during games this postseason. Now with Orpik's status in doubt, there's a good chance we could see both Chorney and Orlov in the lineup for Game 3.

Losing Orpik is a prospect the Caps have grown used to this season as the veteran blueliner missed 41 games in the regular season. He also missed the final three games of the series against Philadelphia with an upper-body injury.

The stakes, however, have never been as high as they are now. The opponent has never been as tough.

Trotz has clearly given his third defensive pairing protected minutes throughout the playoffs and has been able to do so thanks to a solid top four and an opponent in Philadelphia that is lacking in offensive skill. A possible suspension to Orpik with the series tied 1-1 heading into Pittsburgh, however, will put the Caps' defensive depth to the ultimate test.

MORE CAPITALS: Former Capital sinks Washington in Game 2

A Meme is Born -- Marcus Johansson and 'Dearest Abigail'

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A Meme is Born -- Marcus Johansson and 'Dearest Abigail'

Watch CSN's segment about 'Dearest Abigail' on #CapitalsTalk in the video player above, which will begin momentarily.

Marcus Johansson showed up to Verizon Center for Game 2 between the Capitals and Penguins wearing what looked like a coat fit for a Civil War general. So CSN's Capitals account took it from there, playing off of a long-standing meme featuring Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. 

Thus was created General Marcus Johansson and "Dearest Abigail".

To begin the game:

We got an assist from the folks at Capitals Hill: 

After the first period:

After the Capitals' disallowed goal: 

After Johansson's goal to tie the game, 1-1: 

After Eric Fehr's goal lifted Pittsburgh to a 2-1 win: 

Others chimed in throughout:

Rest assured, Capitals fans. General Johansson will be back for Game 3.