Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post writes in his blog that several Washington Capitals players—including Donald Brashear, John Erskine, Brent Johnson, Olie Kolzig, Boyd Gordon, Nicklas Backstrom, Michael Nylander, Chris Clark, Shaone Morrisonn, and Brian Sutherby—have arrived in D.C. early to get a few informal skating sessions in before training camp begins Sept. 14. Nothing spectacular there, outside of El-Bashir mentioning that Comcast SportsNet’s gravelly-voiced, love-him-or-hate him color commentary analyst Craig Laughlin was leading some of the drills, prompting a few “put the biscuit in the basket,” “dipsie-do,” “kabonged on the coconut,” and other Laughlinism-related jokes from the peanut gallery at WashingtonCaps.com’s message boards.
Then El-Bashir drops the real bomb: Former Cap and fan favorite Peter Bondra is participating in the informal skate session as well. Of course, El-Bashir notes that “Bondra has done this the past few Septembers to stay in shape”but that disclosure will certainly not be enough to keep the ever-smoldering “Bring Back Bondra!” argument from re-igniting into a four-alarm blaze. The mere mention of #12’s name within any Caps-related contextparticularly during the post-draft, pre-training camp summer doldrums of the NHL off-seasoninevitably sets off heated message board discussions between those who never got over General Manager George McPhee trading the fleet-footed winger to the Ottawa Senators at the 2003-2004 trading deadline and those who insist Bondra (and/or his agent) played the organization like a bunch of saps before signing with the Atlanta Thrashers the year after the lockout, and that we’d all be better off moving on.
Indeed, the 39-year-old Bondrawho played only 37 games with the Chicago Blackhawks due to injurycould use a wheelchair, and some Caps fans would still call for the organization to sign him to a one-year, incentive-laden contract. The San Jose Sharks’ decision to sign high-profile, well-past-his-prime loudmouth Jeremy Roenick to a one-year contract near the league minimum, which was announced this afternoon, makes a Bondra signing seem that much more plausibleat least, in the eyes of some.
For the record, I’d be happy with inviting Bondra to training camp and see if he still has enough skill, speed, and strength to compete in today’s NHL, at which point a one-year contract may not be entirely out of the questionnot that such a situation would ever happen. And I love Craig Laughlin.