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Washington Capitals won't play preseason game in Baltimore this year

Team had played two Baltimore Hockey Classics in the past three years

By Cody Goodwin

The Baltimore Sun

6:18 PM EDT, June 5, 2014

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The Washington Capitals have confirmed they will not be making the trip to Baltimore Arena for a preseason game this year.

The NHL team had hosted the Baltimore Hockey Classic exhibition here in two of the past three years.

"The Baltimore Hockey Classic was a terrific event and we were overwhelmed with the support from the city of Baltimore, Baltimore Arena and our fans in Maryland," a team spokesman said in an email Thursday, "but after evaluating all of our options the decision was made to play all home preseason games at Verizon Center next season."

Frank Remesch, Baltimore Arena's general manager, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

Remesch told Comcast SportsNet that he didn't expect the Capitals to return after the arena had some operational issues that he called "embarrassing."

"I honestly never thought they were coming back," Remesch told CSN. "Really, we needed to be perfect. Everything is magnified when you host one game a year, and if they're going to give up a home gate and travel to a smaller venue, then we need to be perfect and we weren't."

The arena had trouble with melting ice when it hosted the Capitals and Nashville Predators before an announced sellout crowd of 11,082 in September 2011.

Washington was set to play against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Baltimore in 2012, but the game was canceled because of the NHL lockout.

Ice conditions were better when the Capitals and Boston Bruins played in September 2013, but attendance dropped to an announced 7,634.

Players — including Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin — also had issues with the rink and it not being regulation size. There was a delay in the 2013 game when a pane of glass along the boards was dislodged after a bodycheck.

"You can't hold the puck," Ovechkin said at the time. "You can't shoot it. You're afraid to go into the boards because it's too dangerous out there. But it is what it is."

A return to Baltimore could have been something of a homecoming for recently hired Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who coached the minor league Baltimore Skipjacks in the early 1990s. Trotz was the Predators' coach when they played in the preseason game here in 2011.

The Capitals also hired a new general manager this offseason, Brian MacLellan, who was an assistant under previous GM George McPhee.

cgoodwin@baltsun.com

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