“I just hope to learn very quickly what exactly we need to do as a group, as a team and as a line to become part of it,” says Fedorov. “I am no stranger to offensive play at all. I’m a little rusty after playing a little bit different style of hockey these last three years but I’m sure I’ll find a way to get better at it very quickly.”
With the Blue Jackets this season, Fedorov has nine goals and 28 points in 50 games. He is averaging 17:27 a night in ice time. He has 470 goals and 1133 points in 1178 NHL games. Fedorov has always been a clutch playoff performer; he has 50 goals and 163 points in 162 career Stanley Cup playoff contests.
“I know it’s a young group of guys,” remarks Fedorov of his new teammates. “I just hope to be part of this group and play well. I just met the coach and he told me I’m going to play a little bit more than I played in Columbus. For me, that’s exciting news already and I don’t think about anything else.
Fedorov is already acquainted with Caps star left wing Alex Ovechkin
. The two run into each other from time to time in their native Russia and have trained together at times.
“I feel and I think like him because I feel young and I still love this game,” says Fedorov. “The way he plays is a very encouraging way. I’m excited to be a part of it. Even though I’m 38 years old, I still play my best games with younger players.”
Cooke, 29, broke in with the Canucks and has spent his entire NHL career in Vancouver until today. A veteran who can play any forward position and who plays with some snarl, Cooke was the Canucks’ sixth-round choice (144th overall) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He has scored as many as 15 goals (2002-03) in the NHL but is known most for his checking and forechecking abilities.
“He’s a good team guy,” says Caps winger Matt Bradley, a teammate of Cooke’s when both played junior hockey for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs a decade ago. “As far as on the ice, he’s an exciting guy to watch. He likes to hit, he likes to agitate the other team. He’s just the type of guys you want on your team and not playing against because he can get under your skin and he can lay the big hits. He’ll be an exciting player to watch and he’ll be a good player in the dressing room.
In 61 games with the Canucks this season, Cooke has seven goals and 16 points. He has 83 goals and 203 points in 566 career NHL games.
Aside from goaltender Olie Kolzig, Pettinger had been the longest standing Capital in terms of being in the organization continuously. He was drafted in the second round of the 2000 draft and made his NHL debut with Washington a few months later. Pettinger broke out with a 20-goal season for the Caps in 2005-06, and he had 16 more last season. He had struggled thus far in 2007-08 with two goals, but he might benefit from the change of scenery. Pettinger’s family lives near Vancouver.
“We talked about three weeks ago,” says McPhee of Pettinger. “It was hard for him to be sitting out some games from time to time. And I certainly understand that from a player’s perspective. [He’s a] great kid, he’s done a nice job for us, he never complained, wasn’t a distraction, never asked for a trade. He just wanted to know what he could do to be better and what the future held for him. We said, ‘We’re not anticipating trading you, we’re hoping you can get back to where you were the last couple of seasons.’ But it wasn’t happening for him. Maybe it will happen for him in Vancouver. And we have enough players under contract for next year that we thought moving that contact now – because it had another year on it – would be okay. It actually might help us because we’ve got some kids in Hershey we think might be ready.
The additions of Huet and Fedorov bolster the Caps in crucial areas. Cooke’s presence in the lineup helps make up for the ongoing absence of team captain Clark. If the team can get Clark and injured defenseman Brian Pothier back before the playoffs, it will be bolstered in two more crucial areas.
Just before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. dealing deadline, the Caps swung a fourth deal, one designed to help their Hershey affiliate in the AHL. The Caps sent forward Joe Motzko to Atlanta in exchange for forward Alexandre Giroux. Giroux spent last season with the Bears, so the staff and the fans in Chocolatetown are very familiar with him and happy to have him back.
The flurry of deals also stands as a statement from ownership and management to the players in the locker room.
“It just shows that they are confident that our team can do it and they definitely added some improvements which are going to help,” says Bradley. “It’s good to see that they’re behind us and are confident that we can get into the playoffs and hopefully go deep into the playoffs.”
“We had a playoff caliber team all year long,” declares Clark. “We’ve just been subject to injuries and that hurt us a little bit. But now with a little more depth, if something happens we do have that depth within the locker room to just pick up the slack no matter where it is, at whatever position.”
The Caps responded in kind, going out and making a statement of their own with a 4-1 win over Minnesota mere hours after the dust from the deals had settled.
“We’re five points out,” states McPhee. “The team we’re trying to catch [the Carolina Hurricanes], we have two games in hand on them. If they get really hot, it will be hard to do. But if we can keep it close and play well when we play them, we have a chance to do it.
“It feels good to be able to try and do this after selling off for a few years and rebuilding. I think we’re sending, not only the right message to everybody, but it just feels great in trying to do it.”Back to page 1