On Thursday, news of Mike Knuble's departure from the nation's capital was a harsh reality that was made official for Caps fans. (WaPo's Carrera) Today, Jeff Halpern joins Knuble on the list of ex-Capitals who will be looking for a job elsewhere July 1. (Examiner's McNally)
Like the Knuble scenario, Halpern said that George McPhee had a phone conversation with the Washington native to tell him the Caps will not retain the rights of the 36-year-old center. He will be free to sign with whichever team he pleases come July 1, the beginning of the free agency period.
Halpern marks the fourth Cap that was told he won't be returning next season. He joins Knuble, recently traded Tomas Vokoun, and Alexander Semin. All four of these Capitals were included in the "Happy Trails" section of Capitals 101's UFA/RFA decision article a little while back.
While Kanoobs and Halpy are both at the tail-end of their respective careers, Capitals 101 feels that both players will find another team to play for in 2012-13. (assuming a new CBA is made) Yeah, I'm looking at you St. Louis Blues.
Knuble scored just three goals in the regular season, but there was a period in the middle of the season where Kanooble just couldn't catch a break. He could have managed 15 goals if he caught some bounces/calls and gotten hot after. Let's not forget he created Joel Ward's Game 7 overtime winner by driving the puck to the net and making a "hockey play" on Tim Thomas.
If you were a huge fan of Knuble, you'll want to read Knuble's Knights farewell to their favorite Cap on RMNB.
Another team could easily find use for the service of the veteran, perhaps even a Stanley Cup contender.
As for Halpern, it should really be no question that at least one team will require the services of the NHL's fifth best face-off man this season at 58.3 %. 16 points for a fourth liner isn't too shabby, either.
His skating sessions with Wendy Marco will certainly come in handy; there were numerous points over the course of the season in which Halpern outskated much younger counterparts on the ice.
The offseason is very bittersweet, especially when the ultimate prize wasn't achieved.
Fan favorites are ushered out of town, but new faces come in to give new hope. It hurts to see Knuble and Halpern go, but I am just as excited to see the new guys that replace the two veterans on the 2012-13 Washington Capitals.
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