By: Ben Raby (
ARLINGTON, Va. – Mikhail Grabovski was like the new kid on the first day of school. The former Toronto Maple Leafs center arrived at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the first time Tuesday and took part in a morning practice with several of his new teammates.
Soon after the hour long skate, Grabovski laid out his equipment in front of his new locker stall and met with team trainers for about ten minutes. Grabovski tried on a few different pairs of hockey shorts and showed off his collection of hockey sticks, discussing everything from size to curve types.
It’s hard to blame Grabovski for wanting everything to be just right now that he has finally arrived in the District. Grabovski, who signed a one-year $3 million deal with the Capitals in late August, missed the start of training camp last week because of a visa issue which was eventually settled Monday in Toronto.
“I’m just very excited,” he said Tuesday. “I’m excited to skate in the practice arena and to feel the ice. I’m sorry about [being] late a little bit but I’m happy to be here and just very excited.”
Prior to his signing with the Capitals, Grabovski spent five seasons with the Maple Leafs where he recorded career highs of 29 goals and 58 points in 2010-11. The Belarusian was limited to 16 points in 48 games last season before having the final four years of his contract bought out in July.
Grabovski concedes that it’s been “an unusual start” to the season and that he still has much to learn in the days and weeks ahead as he adjusts to life with a new team in a different city.
“It’s going to be busy,” he said of the next few days. “My wife is here so she’s going to help me a little bit to find a house and that stuff so that I can keep my mind [focused] on training and working out. I hope I’m going to play in the next few games so that I can [get] myself ready.”
Grabovski could make his preseason debut Friday at Verizon Center when the Capitals face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The 29-year-old is expected to begin the regular season as the Capitals’ second line center- a position which was filled last year by Mike Ribeiro.
“I’m looking forward to finding myself as a player and to be a better offensive player and to try to help them fight for a Stanley Cup,” he said. “I hope that I give them a little bit of speed and emotion. I’m just very happy to be here. I know that it’s just for one year but I’ll try my best to help them and to help myself.”