On Monday, the second day of the NHL lockout, 13 Capitals hit the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. By Wednesday that number was down to six.
Forwards Jason Chimera, Matt Hendricks, Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle and Mattias Sjogren were the only Capitals on the ice Wednesday, firing pucks at a goal with a blue plastic goalie.
Its a tough time, but its part of the business, Hendricks said after skating for about an hour, then changing in the locker room normally reserved for youth and adult teams.
Its just getting a little strenuous working out and training every day with really no end in sight. Its just an uncertainty, I guess.
With no formal talks scheduled between NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr, the NHL lockout dragged into Day 4 on Wednesday. With each passing day the number of skaters at Kettler has dwindled.
On Sept. 8 Alex Ovechkin returned to Russia and on Wednesday he signed a contract to play for his hometown Dynamo Moscow. On Tuesday goaltender Michal Neuvirth left for the Czech Republic, where he is expected to begin practicing this weekend.
And on Wednesday, Chimera said a few teammates were participating in charity golf tournaments, cutting the number of participants down even further.
Its different than a full practice, for sure, Chimera said. It is what it is. I think a lot of guys are not committing to come down right now because theyre scared it might go a little while. The want to stay home and theyre getting skates in there.
While the Caps are able to rent ice at Kettler the advertised rate is 360 per hour they are not provided access to the teams showers or weight room. Hendricks said a handful of players have been going to Golds Gym in Arlington to work out.
Theyve been treating us well, Hendricks said. Were doing what we need to do staying in shape, getting stronger, and focusing in on when the season is going to start, if it does.
Next week Sjogren said he will begin skating in Hershey with members of the AHL Bears, who begin training camp on Sept. 30. For now, the Capitals who are in town Mike Ribeiro, Mike Green and John Carlson are among those who were not on the ice on Wednesday but are still in the area will continue skating at Kettler, at least until they think it is no longer beneficial.
Well see what happens, Chimera said. Were not even at the start of training camp right now. Youve got to keep in the best shape you can and hope for the best.