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It's a big deal when a team deals its captain mid-season, especially when that team currently holds the best record in the league and is playing at the top of its game.
But that's exactly what the Washington Capitals did today, sending four-year captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina to Columbus in exchange for speedy winger Jason Chimera.
Clark, 33, a one-time 30-goal scorer, never regained that touch after injuries ravaged the better part of two seasons for him. Clark had four goals and 11 assists this season with 27 penalty minutes.
Chimera, 30, has eight goals and nine assists with 47 penalty minutes with Columbus this season. He brings size and speed and—what can't be ignored—bit of toughness to the 2nd/3rd line mix. In addition, Washington saves considerable space (over $2 million) under the salary cap with the move.
The Washington Post is reporting that Chimera will join the team tonight and be available for their next game, at San Jose Wednesday night.
Speculation is already rampant as to who should succeed Clark as captain. On a team that should be making a serious run at going deep into the playoffs, it would be tough for the Caps to go without naming a captain.
This season has seen four players—Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Tom Poti, and Brendan Morrison—wearing the alternate captain's "A" at times, and Brooks Laich has always been a fan favorite to assume the mantel if/when the position became available.
For now, we wait and see on that question.
But one question that has been answered is this: Will GM George McPhee be willing to make a trade to increase the Caps chances at chasing the Cup. The answer is a resounding "yes."
Now, about that rugged stay-at-home defenseman...