Capitals' Chimera returns home

Capitals' Chimera returns home
October 26, 2011, 6:59 pm
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Like the rest of the Capitals, Jason Chimera is given a food allowance whenever the team goes on a road trip.

Hell be spending his on tickets to Thursday nights game in Edmontons Rexall Place.

No freebies on the road, the Edmonton native said with a laugh. It will be an expensive day, but a good day. Its fun to treat your family for all theyve sacrificed for you.

When the Capitals visit the Oilers Thursday night, Chimera will be returning to the arena where he once played between periods of Oilers games as a 6-year-old mite. Hell also return to the house he called home as a youngster growing up in Edmonton.

Like any kid, my parents would get me up at 6 oclock and drive me to games and practices that were 40 minutes away, Chimera said.

Back then, Chimera, now 32, idolized the Edmonton Oilers and had a soft spot for fleet-footed forward Martin Gelinas. Ironically, it was Chimeras speed that led his hometown Oilers to select him in the fifth round of the 1997 NHL draft, the 121st player selected overall.

It was nice, Chimera said. (My parents) didnt have to buy equipment anymore, which is a big thing for them because a lot of their pay checks went to equipment for us kids.

Chimera played parts of four seasons for the Oilers from 2000-04 but when he failed to fulfill the promise of a 14-goal rookie season, the Oilers traded him to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004 for draft picks in the second and fourth rounds.

Before Chimera could play a game in Phoenix, the Coyotes traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a multi-player deal that included Geoff Sanderson, Tim Jackman, Mike Rupp and Cale Hulse.

It was good to move on because I wasnt really getting a shot there (in Edmonton), Chimera said. I went to Columbus and became a better player. Theres a lot of pressure playing for your hometown team. There are a lot of distractions outside the rink, so its nice to get out and get on your own.

Chimera established himself as a 15-goal scorer in Columbus, where he played three seasons before arriving in Washington in a 2009 deal for captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina.

Since then Chimera has carved a niche as a reliable two-way winger and was rewarded in training camp with a two-year, 3.5 million contract extension. Now playing on a checking line with Brooks Laich and Joel Ward, Chimera has four goals in his first seven games this season.

He said hes looking forward to his return to Rexall Place, which was called Northlands Coliseum until changing names in 1994. But hes more excited about sitting around the dinner table with his family.

My mom will probably cook all my favorites, he said. Itll be like being a kid again.