Photo: Washington Capitals
I’ll be the first to admit, when the Capitals traded one of my favorite players in Chris Clark (along with defenseman Milan Jurcina) to the Columbus Blue Jackets in December 2009 for a guy by the name of Jason Chimera – a guy I had never even heard of before – I was certain that the Caps were making a mistake.
But seven years later, I can say without hesitation that the Capitals won this deal in a landslide. With his current contract expiring at noon, the Ice Cheetah signed a two-year contract with the New York Islanders and, in doing so, ending the Capitals career of a guy that earned his status as a fan favorite in the District. In 490 games played for the Caps, Chimera has 82 goals and 115 assists for 197 points.
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Watching Chimera play has been a true treat. For someone who watches every game, I can say that I have never seen a 37-year old skate the way Chimera does. Coming off a solid 20-goal, 40-point season, Chimera proved yet again that he still has plenty left in the tank. His conditioning is superb and he keeps himself in top condition.
But Chimera’s worth to the Caps extends well beyond the rink. Since arriving in Washington, Chimera has been one of the participants in charitable events and in helping the community. After practices, he was willing to pose for pictures or sign autographs (like many of the team is) and talk with friends. One of the things that endeared Jason to his teammates, fans, and coaches was his ability to connect with people and his never-ending sense of humor. And occasionally, stand up for his teammates and himself.
Always the trickster, Chimera had a habit of harassing teammates during interviews in the locker room after practices; whether it was throwing a towel on their head or yelling at them off camera, Chimera did it all. One of the reasons I will miss Chimera is the fact that he never seems to be in a bad mood and is always willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. While many players care about their team, fans, and teammates, Chimera is never one to be negative about a situation (other than perhaps a loss or bad performance).
And who could forget about this goal in the Caps’ first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers this spring?:
While free agency is one of the most exciting and busiest times of the NHL calendar, it proves time and time again that hockey is a business, and that business can be harsh. So as the Capitals prepare to say goodbye to one of their most-beloved players, I am wishing Jason Chimera and his family nothing but the best. Thank You Jason from me and every other Washington Capitals fan! We will miss you!
By Michael Fleetwood