Something special about playing in Washington


Derek Dorsett #15 of the Columbus Blue Jackets throws a punch while fighting with Brendan Morrison #8 of the Calgary Flames during the first period on December 27, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Derek Dorsett #15 of the Columbus Blue Jackets throws a punch while fighting with Brendan Morrison #8 of the Calgary Flames during the first period on December 27, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Photograph by: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images

Brendan Morrison’s daily commute used to take him past the White House.

“I remember the first couple times I did it,” he said. “I called home to my parents and said, ‘This is pretty neat.’ ”

Scott Hannan took another route to work.

“I drove past the CIA headquarters, the Pentagon,” Hannan recalled. “You keep thinking, ‘What’s going on in there at this moment?’ It’s an experience. A lot going on there at any given time. It’s kind of the hub of the world.”

Clearly, for two members of the Calgary Flames, their time with the Washington Capitals — Morrison in 2009-10, Hannan in 2010-11 — served as more than just an opportunity to play alongside superstar Alex Ovechkin.

President Barack Obama isn’t much of a hockey fan, but one night vice-president Joe Biden showed up at the Verizon Center.

“They shut down the whole arena on the outside — nobody could get in, nobody could get out,” Morrison said. “There was basically a lockdown until he got in and got into his seat. No sneak him in the back door and slide him in, it was, ‘OK, we’re going to shut this whole thing down.’ Just the scale of things seemed to be that much larger.”

Would Selanne jet?

Teemu Selanne took the better part of the summer deciding whether he would return to play for another NHL season.

In the end, he chose to return for his 19th season.

Now that the Ducks are foundering near the bottom of the standings and appear to be a lock to miss the playoffs, talk of trading the 41-year-old winger has arisen.

Selanne was non-committal when asked whether he’d be OK with a deal.

“I’ve read some stories in the papers too about what the situation could be,” Selanne said to the Orange County Register. “To be honest, I haven’t really thought about that too much. I still believe that we can make the playoffs. I don’t want to think about that thing before we’re out.

“So right now, I just think I’m going to be here. That’s the only goal I have right now. Right now, I can’t see that happening. The focus is still do the job here now and see how it goes. A lot of work to do. It’s a big challenge right now.”

The job do get his team closer to the post-season seems tough, though. Anaheim is 10-21-6 and a whopping 19 points out of eighth spot in the West.

“I haven’t really thought about that too much,” Selanne said. “Obviously it has been a frustrating year so far. I’m waiting for that roll that we can be hot for a while. I really believe anything can happen. After that, you know, we can talk about this later and see how it goes.

“I don’t know what else to say, really.”

Subban, Barch chat

P.K. Subban said he received a phone call Sunday from Florida Panthers forward Krys Barch, who was ejected from Saturday’s game for having allegedly made a racial remark to the Montreal Canadiens defenceman.

“(Barch) gave me a call, we spoke about a few things on the phone, but right now we should just leave it at that,” said Subban, refusing to elaborate. “I have bigger things to worry about —winning hockey games here, trying to make the playoffs, make a push. That’s where my focus is.”

The NHL seemed to have a hearing scheduled Tuesday afternoon with Barch, but it was delayed.

Gilbert avoids serious injury

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert isn’t seriously injured, even though he had a violent collision with the end boards when he was drilled by Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo on Monday and hurt his right knee.

Carcillo has been suspended indefinitely, pending a hearing with Brendan Shanahan, NHL vice-president of on-ice discipline, over the reckless hit.

“I saw the pictures of it and I’m lucky it’s only a minimal injury,” said Gilbert, who sat out Tuesday’s game against Buffalo.

“I have to be more aware with what kind of opposing player is coming at me. He’s had hits like that before. Maybe I should have taken a better angle to the puck,” said Gilbert.

Canucks eager to face Bruins

Their coach always takes it one game at a time but Vancouver Canucks players actually nibbled at some media bait Tuesday when asked about the looming showdown Saturday with the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins broke their hearts by lifting the Stanley Cup from under their noses last June. Saturday’s matinee in Beantown will be the teams’ first meeting since that fateful June 15.

“It’s a game we’ve been looking at for a while,” admitted Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. “I think the boys are excited to play it. It’s going to be fun. Obviously we didn’t end up where we wanted last year but getting a chance to go at it again is going to have a feel of the final from last year.”

Captain Henrik Sedin is also looking forward to Saturday.

“When you play a team in the final, which I haven’t done before, it’s special,” he explained. “It’s special, I think, when you don’t play them that much. I mean, it’s going to be once this year. I think, in the end, it’s the two points that matter so we’ll see what happens.”

Senators looking forward to home All-Star Game

The support from Ottawa Senators fans in balloting for the NHL All-Star Game has been humbling for Senators players.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson is one of three Senators in contention for a starting spot in the game which Ottawa will host on Jan. 29. Defenceman Erik Karlsson and forward Jason Spezza are also in contention.

Final voting results will be released this week.

“It has obviously been very flattering,” Alfredsson said on Tuesday. “I thought it was going to be tough to get voted in, but the community has really supported us and wants to see us in the game. It’ll be interesting to see how it ends.

“In 1996, when I played in my first all-star game in Boston, I saw the reception that Ray Bourque and the other Bruins got. It was unbelievable.

“Just to be able to be part of something like that would be amazing. You can always dream, and sometimes dreams come true.”

Bettman won’t say where next Winter Classic is headed

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he was ecstatic with the way the New Year’s Day outdoor Winter Classic unfolded.

The game in Philadelphia between the Flyers and New York Rangers was one of the most competitive of the five Winter Classics staged so far. After trailing 2-1 through two periods, the Rangers scored twice in the third to skate away with a 3-2 road win.

“It was spectacular,” Bettman said. “We could not have asked for any more from the event. And I think the alumni game was a great appetizer to the main event — having 45,000 people in here on Saturday — and just the entire reception in the city, the buzz throughout the city, and the crowd today was great.”

As to where next year’s game is headed?

“The answer is you can eliminate some of the warmer climates. We are not probably going to go back to where we have been. So that’s all you get from me today,” said Bettman.

Speculation is that next year’s game will be held in Detroit.

They said it:

“I’m not sure if NBC got together with the refs and wanted to turn this into an overtime game. It started with a non-call on (Marian Gaborik) — Gabby’s walking and he gets pitchforked in the stomach, and then everything starts going against us. They’re two good referees, but I thought the game was reffed horribly. So I’m not sure what happened there. Maybe they wanted to get it to an overtime. I’m not sure if they had meetings about that or what. They’re good guys, but in that third period, it was disgusting.” — New York coach John Tortorella to reporters, slamming the officiating late during the Rangers’ 3-2 win over Philadelphia at the Winter Classic.

“It was a good test. Did some battling. A little bit more contact. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. I didn’t really notice it much. I haven’t noticed it for a while. I just hope that it’s time. I’m ready to play.” — Anaheim Ducks winger Jason Blake to the Orange Country Register as he makes his way back from a wrist tendon injury that’s seen him miss 34 games.

“He probably read your articles and heard the discussion and he respects your opinion so here we are today with a day off and that’s why I’m walking around the hallways with nothing to do.” — Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa, ever the comedian, on head coach Alain Vigneault’s decision Tuesday to cancel practice and have the players do a dry land training session.

Ice chips:

Philadelphia Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr (groin) is expected to miss the next week or two. . . . Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Joni Pitkanen will miss at least the next month after undergoing left knee surgery on Tuesday. . . . The Edmonton Oilers called up veteran forward Josh Green from Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League to take injured rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ spot in the lineup. It was Green’s first time in an Oilers jersey for a regular-season game since Dec. 11, 2002, when he suited up against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Derek Dorsett #15 of the Columbus Blue Jackets throws a punch while fighting with Brendan Morrison #8 of the Calgary Flames during the first period on December 27, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Derek Dorsett #15 of the Columbus Blue Jackets throws a punch while fighting with Brendan Morrison #8 of the Calgary Flames during the first period on December 27, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Photograph by: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images

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