Monday, July 27, 2015

Washington Capitals -- Memorable Goals: Number 7

In our look back at ten memorable goals in Washington Capitals history, we go far back in history.  Back to the first night, in fact, and the first shift of a player who otherwise would not leave much of a mark in franchise history.

October 9, 1974 – Jim Hrycuik: Someone has to be First

Every season brings new hope for a team and its fans.  That is especially true when the season is the first for a new franchise.  Sure, as an intellectual matter one does not harbor much expectation that the new club will do well, but there is that “finally, we are here” moment when all the anticipation, all the suspense, all the waiting is over, and the team can finally take the ice.

So it was on October 9, 1974 in New York City when the Washington Capitals took the ice for the first time, facing the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.  Reality would be put on hold, if only for a short time, thanks to one Jim Hryciuk.  The native of Rosthern, Saskatchewan, undrafted and playing in his first NHL game, hopped over the boards for his first NHL shift not five minutes into the contest.  By the time his shift was over, he would forever be a part of Capitals history.

Taking advantage of a turnover by the Rangers, Hrycuik led a two-on-one break against New York.  When defenseman Gilles Marotte chose to defend against the pass and cover Dave Kryskow, Hryciuk curled in and lifted a backhand past Ranger goalie Eddie Giacomin to give the Caps a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the contest.

The lead did not last long; the Rangers tied the game less than a minute later.  The Caps stood fast, though, and struck back to take a 2-1 lead in the second period.  Then the Caps were reminded that hockey games are 60 minutes long, and fairy tale endings are usually reserved to fiction.  The Rangers tied the game, then took a 3-2 lead.  Washington scored on a goal by Kryskow in the second minute of the third period to tie the game, 3-3.  Sadly, that not only would be the Caps’ last goal of the contest, it would be their last shot of the game.  The Rangers out-shot the Caps, 19-1 in the third period and won, going away, by a 6-3 margin.

The goal scored by Hryciuk would be the first of five goals that he would score in 21 games with the Capitals.  They would be his only games and only goals with the club, in fact his only games and goals scored in the NHL.  The following season Hryciuk played in 64 games with the Richmond Robins of the AHL, eight of them in the postseason, in what would be his last season in professional hockey.

As for the Caps, reality was cruel.  The team won only eight games in an 80-game season, setting a record for futility (8-67-5) that stands to this day.  Maybe it was the white pants.  A total of 36 skaters appeared for the Caps in that inaugural season, combining for a total of 181 goals (lowest total in the league).  Only one of those goals could be first, though, and it belongs to Jim Hryciuk.  That is what makes it memorable.

Photo: United Press International via The Washington Post

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Washington Capitals -- Memorable Goals: Number 8

We are up to the eighth most memorable goal in our look at memorable goals in the history of the Washington Capitals.  This one was memorable, not just for the record set, but for the context in which it was scored.

April 5, 1981 -- Dennis Maruk: Hats Off for Number 50

The first six years in which the Washington Capitals played hockey, success was a rare commodity.  Not once in six seasons did the Caps have a winning season, not once had they made the playoffs, and not once did they record as many as 70 standings points.  As they headed into their season finale of the 1980-1981 season against the Detroit Red Wings they did not have a chance to make it a winning season, but they did have a chance to reach the playoffs and hit 70 points for the first time.

For the Caps to reach the playoffs, they would have to win this game.  Losing it meant missing the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.  Even winning the game would require help, though, that coming in the form of the Quebec Nordiques, who had to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the season finale for the Caps to leapfrog the Leafs with a win over Detroit.  It was the price to pay having gone 6-15-6 heading into Game 80.

The Caps had another record in sight in that final game, too, an individual record.  Dennis Maruk and Mike Gartner had already become the first Capitals in team history to record 40 goals in a season, breaking the team record of 38 set by Guy Charron in 1977-1978.  Both had an outside chance to do what no Capital had done before, record 50 goals in a season.  Both entered the game with 47 goals on the season.

The late Robert Fachet, then the Washington Post beat writer for the Washington Capitals, had a fine summary of the contest, a game marked by odd theater at the start involving a broken goalie skate, then a flurry of scoring in the first period than ended the competitive portion of the contest.  

It was Maruk who contributed half of the goals in the 4-1 Capitals lead at the first intermission, drawing him to within a goal of the 50-goal mark.  The Red Wings got the only tally of the second period, then Mike Gartner scored his 48th of the season in the third period to inch closer to the 50-goal mark himself and put some pressure on Maruk.

With the Caps comfortably in front by a 5-2 margin, Maruk took a feed from Bob Kelly and converted it into the hat trick to become the first Capital to hit the 50-goal milestone

Tim Tookey would score late for the Caps to complete the scoring in the 7-2 win, and then it was time to wait to see what was unfolding in Quebec.  The Nordiques scored midway through the second period of their contest against the Maple Leafs to draw to within 3-2.  The teams would play scoreless hockey over the rest of the second period and 19 minutes of the third period, only adding to the agony of Caps players and fans in Landover.  Bill Derlago ended the suspense with a last minute empty net goal for Toronto, sending the Maple Leafs into the postseason and the Capitals home for the seventh consecutive season without a playoff appearance.

The Caps did reach the 70-ponit mark for the season, the first time they did so, and they finished one point out of a playoff spot, as close as they ever came to that point of making the postseason.  Two Capitals – Mike Gartner and Dennis Maruk – went into the final game of the season with a chance to hit the 50 goal mark.  It was Maruk who would reach that magic number, but in the aftermath of missing the playoffs he could only say, "It doesn't mean anything."

Perhaps in the moment, he was right.  However, Maruk became the first of five players in Capitals history to record 50 or more goals in a season. A year later he would become the first player in Caps history and only the eighth in the history of the NHL (third in the 1981-1982 season) to record 60 goals in a season. 

In a fraternity of Capitals with 50-goal seasons that includes Mike Gartner, Bobby Carpenter, Peter Bondra, and Alex Ovechkin; Dennis Maruk was the first to “50.”  And that’s not nothing.  His hat trick goal in what was to that point the most important game in the history of the franchise makes Dennis Maruk’s 50th goal very memorable indeed.

Photo: Washington Capitals

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Washington Capitals -- Memorable Goals: Number 9

We are here with the second in a series of ten memorable goals in the history of the Washigton Capitals.  Number 10 was odd, but Number 9 was a record-setter against an opponent you love to see on the other end of the score.

January 8, 1984 – Bengt Gustafsson, “Five-by-Five”

The 1983-1984 Washington Capitals were having trouble shaking off the distractions of the mid-winter holidays.  Starting on the day after Christmas 1983, when they dropped a 5-4 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Caps went 2-3-1 in their next six games, leaving them a game under .500 (19-20-3) when they traveled to Philadelphia on January 8th for a rematch against the Flyers at The Spectrum.

There was no love lost between these two teams, and the bitterness was perhaps more keenly felt by the Caps, who dropped their previous two decisions to the Flyers, allowing 14 goals in the process, including a 9-4 pasting at The Spectrum on December 15th.

It did not look a lot better for the Caps when the Flyers opened the scoring 5:20 into the game on an unassisted goal by Dave Poulin.  The goal might have been the last straw of frustration that the Caps experienced for the better part of a month.  Just 59 seconds after the Poulin goal, Bengt Gustafsson scored for the Caps on his first shot of the game.  Less than five minutes later, Gustafsson put his second shot of the game on goal, and it found the back of the net behind goalie Pelle Lindbergh to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.

When Dave Christian scored less than three minutes after the second Gustafsson goal, the Caps had a 3-1 lead at the first intermission and had pelted Lindbergh with 16 shots on goal.  The Flyers restored some of the tilt in the ice to start the second period, but mid-way through the frame Doug Crossman went off on a holding penalty, and Gustafsson made it three-for-three, shots and goals, on the ensuing Washington power play.

That would be all the scoring in the second period, but the Capitals were hardly through.  Wes Jarvis rubbed some salt in the Flyer would with an unassisted shorthanded goal in the fourth minute of the third period to make it 5-1.  Less than two minutes later, Gustafsson recorded his fourth goal of the game on his fourth shot, tying the club record for goals in a single game originally set by Stan Gilbertson against Pittsburgh on April 6, 1975 in an 8-4 win.

The only question left was, did Gustafsson have another goal left in him.  He had his chance when Poulin was sent to the box for an elbowing penalty 9:37 into the period.  Less than a minute later, Caps fans had their answer.  Taking a pass from Mike Gartner, Gustaffson tried to move the puck to defenseman Rod Langway, but the puck hit a Flyer defender and rebounded back to Gustafsson.  The second time on his stick was the charm as he collected the puck in the right wing faceoff circle and fired it past Lindbergh a fifth and final time, on his fifth shot of the game.  The Caps rolled to a 7-1 victory.

The goal set a club record that would stand for more than ten years, until Peter Bondra tied it in February 1994 in a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay in what was a different kind of stunning efficiency – Bondra accomplished the feat in 24:46 of game clock time.  The five-goal effort by Gustafsson against the Flyers was accompanied by a three-assist night for Gartner and a two-assist night for Langway.

Perhaps even more important, the win set off a three-game winning streak for the Caps – all on the road – that was the start of a stretch run in which they went 29-7-2, going from fourth in the Patrick Division to second in the Division by seasons’ end.  They would set a club record for wins (48) and finish with more than 100 standings points for the first time in club history (101).  Gustafsson finished the season with what would be career-highs in goals (32) and points (75, tied two seasons later).

That the fifth goal would come on the fifth shot against, at the time, arguably the Caps’ most hated rival, and sparking the club to one of the best finishes in its history makes that goal one to chalk up in the “memorable” category.

B. Miller/Getty Images

Monday, July 20, 2015

Washington Capitals -- Memorable Goals: Number 10

It is summer, and for hockey fans a chance to unwind.  Maybe for bloggers, too.  We have not been as frequent with the posts lately, and that is a product of there just being so little news to digest.  But it is a chance to look back and have a little fun in the process.

Last year it was All-Franchise Teams by the Alphabet.  The year before that it was Capitals by the Periodic Table.  This summer, we are going to take a look at memorable goals. Not best goals, not most impactful goals.  Memorable ones.  By definition, that means goals we remember.  You might remember different ones, and feel free to offer them up in the comments, but let’s get started with one that illustrates a unique aspect of hockey.

March 8, 2006 – Pittsburgh at Washington, "The Majesky Bounce"

Ted Williams once remarked about the odd shape of baseball that they give you a round bat, throw a round ball, and you have to hit it square.  In hockey, you have a cylinder of extruded rubber being played on a sheet of frozen water.  Hilarity often ensues from the bounces such a shape can take on such a surface.  It certainly did in a game between two struggling teams late in the 2005-2006 season.

The Caps went into their game on March 8th against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a record of 4-9-1 in their previous 14 games not having won consecutive games in more than six weeks.  They did, however have a chance to win two in a row by virtue of beating the New York Islanders in their previous contest.

The Penguins were having just about as bad a time of it.  They were 4-17-3 in the 2006 portion of the season and lost three in a row as they headed to Washington.  The Penguins did, however, beat the Caps in the last game before the Winter Olympic Games break, 6-3, on the same ice sheet.

Just as they did in their previous meeting, the Penguins scored first, this time on a goal by Colby Armstrong barely two minutes into the game.  Unlike their previous meeting, however, when the Penguins went on to score the next four goals to turn the game into a rout, the Caps tied the game just over two minutes later on a goal by Ben Clymer.  They then took the lead mid-way through the first period on a Chris Clark tally.

Late in the period, Jeff Halpern was sent to the penalty box for an interference penalty.  Pittsburgh was doing little with the power play, the Caps’ Sergie Gonchar recording the only shot in the first 90 seconds of the Penguin man advantage.  Things would get worse for the Penguins in the last seconds of their power play.  A harmless looking clear by Ivan Majesky trying to gain some time for a line change became Penguin goalie Sebastien Caron’s personal un-highlight moment…

The goal gave the Caps a 3-1 lead heading to the first intermission and was perhaps the highlight of the game, overshadowing a three-point night (goal, two assists) by Alex Ovechkin.  It was the first of what would be three shorthanded goals on the evening, Ryan Malone scoring one for the Penguins early in the third period to close the Caps’ lead to 4-3, and Matt Pettinger scoring one with one second left – with an assist by Majesky – to give the Caps their final 6-3 winning margin.  It was Majesky’s goal that was getting the attention after the game, and he had some words about his good fortune:

"It was a lucky bounce.  It went in, so that's all it's about. The goalie, I don't know, he just went out and the puck went in."

Officially a goal of 121 feet, it was Majesky’s first goal as a Capital.  It would be his only goal as a Capital and the only shorthanded goal of his career.  It would also be Majesky’s last goal in the NHL.  At the end of the 2005-2006 season in Washington, he joined Oulun Kärpät in Finland, then Linköpings HC in Sweden for the 2006-2007 season.  Majesky never returned to North America, continuing to play in Europe, shuttling among a number of teams in Sweden and Finland, before wrapping up his hockey career with Rytíři Kladno in the 2012-2013 season.

It was a helluva way to go out, though, and made it one of the oddest goals among those that we remember.

Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Washington Capitals -- That Was The Week That Was: Week 2 of "Hockey Summer"

A week ago, we took time to take a breath after the Washington Capitals made some noise in the first week of the unrestricted free agent signing period.  The signing of Justin Williams and the trade for T.J. Oshie were big moves to start the summer, but the Caps were not quiet in Week 2.

While the Caps were holding their annual development camp for prospects, there were some things going on behind the scenes, too.  On July 4th, the club announced that they signed veteran goaltender Dan Ellis to a one-year/two-way ($575K/$250K) contract.  The signing had the appearance of being entirely a trade to bolster the goaltending situation at Hershey, made a bit thinner when the Caps sent Pheonix Copley to St. Louis as part of the trade for T.J. Oshie.

Washington is Ellis’ seventh NHL team.  He was the fifth goalie taken in the 2000 entry draft, selected by the Dallas Stars with the 60th overall pick in the second round.  That happened to be one of the stranger drafts at the position in recent memory.  First, there were a total of 32 goalies taken (by way of comparison, the two most recent drafts yielded a total of 45 goalies).  Only 12 of those goalies appeared in at least one NHL game, and only six have appeared in more than 100 NHL contests, including Ellis.

Ellis is tied for fourth in his draft class in games played (212, with the retired Roman Cechmanek, who last played in the NHL in 2004).  He is fifth in wins (87), fourth in goals against (2.79; minimum: 100 games), and fourth in save percentage (.906; minimum: 100 games).  It is not an especially deep draft class.  It does include Henrik Lundqvist, Rick DiPietro, and Ilya Bryzgalov, but the accomplishments drop off rather rapidly after that trio.

Ellis has not played in more than 20 games in an NHL season since he appeared in 44 games in 2010-2011 for Tampa Bay and Anaheim.  He appeared in only one game for the team that drafted him – Dallas – before he was signed as a free agent by Nashville in July 2007.  He played in 110 games for the Predators over three seasons, but over the last five seasons he has appeared in only 111 games for five teams, including a return stay in Dallas in 2013-2014.  After appearing in only 28 games over the past two seasons, the chances of his getting any time in Washington appear slim.

The bigger news was the signing of restricted free agent Evgeny Kunzetsov to a two-year/$6 million contract.  The Caps are buying what amounts to an extended test drive; Kuznetsov will be a restricted free agent once more at the end of the new deal.  Caps fans will no doubt be excited at the prospect of having Kuznetsov in the fold for two more seasons.  He was one of six rookie forwards who this past season appeared in at least 60 games, recorded at least ten goals and at least 35 points, and finished at plus-10 or better.  He was third in total postseason scoring among rookie forwards (seven points in 14 games) and led all rookie forwards in playoff goals scored (five).  He also displayed a willingness to shoot that rookies in a pressure cooker situation like the playoffs might avoid.  Even having played in only 14 games, he led all rookie forwards in shots on goal, and by a wide margin (42, compared to 26 for Teuvo Teravainen).

However, nothing is guaranteed.  Kuznetsov is more of a known quantity with his give seasons with Chelyabinsk Traktor in the KHL.  Nevertheless, parts of two seasons and 97 NHL games worth of experience is an uncertain predictor of future success.  Consider that his 14-32-46, plus-8, scoring line in those games looks a lot like the scoring line of a Cody Hodgson over 91 games in his first two NHL seasons (20-23-43) or Erik Christensen in 94 games over his first two NHL seasons (24-22-46), to note two forwards in this situation since the 2004-2005 lockout (and who did not build much on that performance).  Two years from now, three big forward contracts will come off the books (Brooks Laich, Williams, and Oshie), and if Kuznetsov is the number two center the club hopes he will be, he will get paid in a commensurate manner.

The Caps recorded three lesser signings as well (two of which we did not cover last week).  A pair of forwards – Paul Carey and Chris Bourque – were signed to provide depth and a veteran presence in Hershey.  Carey was a fifth-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2007 and played all 22 games on the NHL portion of his resume with the Avs.  What he does have is 188 regular season games of experience in the AHL with Lake Erie and Providence (42-54-96, minus-10).  On a team that could feature a number of young forwards (Jakub Vrana, Riley Barber, Stanislav Galiev), his experience will provide balance.

The same might be said of Chris Bourque, who returns for his third tour in the Capitals organization.  Signed to a two-year contract ($575K in NHL salary per year), he brings more than 500 games of regular season and playoff experience in the AHL to the Bears.  Once a 33rd overall draft pick of the Caps, his days as a potential NHL regular are almost certainly behind him (he will turn 30 in January).  He has not appeared in an NHL game since March 2013 with the Boston Bruins and has only two goals and eight points in 51 career NHL games.

What Bourque brings to Hershey is having played in almost 400 regular season games with the organization and more than 70 postseason games.  He was a member of two Calder Cup championship teams (2009, 2010; and he played in one game of the 2006 Calder Cup championship postseason), and with the sort of season one might expect of him in Hershey he could find himself in the top ten all-time career regular season point-getters in franchise history (he has 393 points, Ralph Keller is tenth with 408).

The third signing was defensemen Taylor Chorney, previously of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL.  With Mike Green having signed with the Detroit Red Wings, Chorney became the Caps’ seventh defenseman on paper.  It is a stretch to think that the club prefers this situation, given that Chorney has appeared in just 24 NHL games over the last three seasons and has just 68 games in a five-year career.  He does have 400 games of AHL experience and 142 career points with five teams in the American Hockey League.  Circumstance might require him to serve as a seventh defenseman (we will get to that), but one thinks that there is another deal for a defenseman that will be made over the next two months leading up to Opening Night.

There are a couple of dark clouds that appear on the horizon this week.  Marcus Johansson and Braden Holtby filed for arbitration.  Both are restricted free agents looking for substantial raises (Johansson had a $2.0 million cap hit on his just expired deal; Holtby’s hit was $1.85 million).  It is entirely possible that the combined cap hit on the new deals for the pair will exceed $10 million.  If one assumes that Justin Peters will start the season in Hershey and that Taylor Chorney is that seventh defenseman for the Caps, devoting $10 million in cap room to Johansson and Holtby would leave about $1.8 million in cap room with 21 contracts on the parent roster (12 forwards, seven defensemen, two goaltenders; source:

The contract situation is a distant early warning of things to come.  Two years from now, in the summer of 2017, four contracts come off the books entirely (Brooks Laich, Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie, and Karl Alzner), and another four players will be restricted free agents (Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Nate Schmidt, and Philipp Grubauer).  That, however, is a matter for a different day.  The Caps have done quite a bit in the first two weeks of hockey “summer,” but there is much work to do before the curtain rises on the 2015-2016 season.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Washington Capitals -- 2015 Development Camp: Day 3

Day 3 of Development Camp 2015 for prospects of the Washington Capitals was sort of like the third quarter of the academic year.  On Day 1, the prospects were put through what amounted to a brief master class in skating with very little work with pucks in the morning, followed by some afternoon work with lines and pairs.  Day 2 was a day to test skaters on their current skills status in a variety of skating courses, and then give forward lines and pairs some more time together. 

Day 3 was more of a conventional day of drills that looked more like a “training camp” setting.  Not that the day lacked for instruction – often on a one-on-one basis.  But the pace was crisp in going from one drill to the next, emphasizing skating passing, corner work, and making the goaltenders work for their supper.

This is where one starts to see who has been through this before – who has experience here and elsewhere – and who is still sort of feeling their way, taking it all in.  There is a certain confidence that seemed to surround guys like Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, and Madison Bowey. That’s not to say that some of the free agent invitees are without a chance of moving up the ladder, but this might be their first experience with a camp at this level, even if it does not feature parent or farm team roster players.

The forward lines in the first morning session (Team White) were:
  • Red Jerseys: Riley Barber/Chandler Stephenson/Jakub Vrana
  • Gray Jerseys: Nick Lappin/Thomas DiPauli/Brian Pinho
  • White Jerseys: Trevor Cox/Jonathan Davidsson/Steven Spinner
The forward lines for the second morning session (Team Red) were:
  • Red Jerseys: Liam O’Brien/Travis Boyd/Caleb Herbert
  • Gray Jerseys: Marcus Basara/Shane Gersich/Kevin Elgestal
  • White Jerseys: Cody Murphy/Miles Koules/Zach Sanford
A few observations from the morning sessions…
  • One of the features of the Team White session was Jakub Vrana wearing the helmet cam.
  • Chandler Stephenson showed some early am skill in banking pucks off iron an in, although such things do have ways of evening out.  Home he saves some for the season.
  • The sessions were largely divided in half – forwards at one end doing skating-passing-shooting drills, and the defensemen at the other end of the ice working on shooting, particularly changing angles and position to get shots off.
  • Keegan Asmundson is a very large goaltender, but it is not a hindrance.  That said, the goalies (Asmundson and Chris Nell) seemed to have a rougher time in the second (Team Red) session than did (Vitek Vanacek and Jan Ruzicka) did in the first (Team White) session.
  • Asmundson took a shot off the mask from Zach Sanford early in the Team Red session and took a couple of minutes to check the mask for dents.
  • Mitch Korn seems to be always teaching.  He didn’t miss a chance to get in the goaltender’s ear to give him 30 seconds or a minute of advice.

And now, some pictures…


OK, where's the Sharpie?

It's "put your RIGHT foot in, and shake it all about!"


close order drill

"Vrana Cam"

Two goalies go into a bar...

There will be a test on this at the end of the hour...



You guys getting this?

Those guys in the back were pretty good...

Puck Stare-Down

They're getting the hang of this.

...and now, your moment of "sad."

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Washington Capitals -- 2015 Development Camp: Day 2

Day 2 of Development Camp 2015 was dominated by testing.  You know the drill by now... those spidery timers set up on the ice and the prospects going through a number of courses to time their skating over a number of courses.  Maybe it was a product of being the first item of business in the morning, but some of the skaters had their troubles keeping their skates under them.  Two of them -- Riley Barber and Liam O'Brien -- were particularly adventurous.  Barber lost his skates on several occasions, while O'Brien seemed to have a beef with the "giant plungers" that served as pilons for some of the skating tests, knocking a number of them over on his routes.  Perhaps it was his own practice for getting under the skin of opponents for the upcoming season.  While the skaters were undergoing skating tests, goalie coach Mitch Korn was working with the prospect netminders on the Capitals Rink.

The testing sessions for Team White and Team Red lasted about an hour, after which they crossed the hall from the Arlington Ice Rink to the Capitals Ice Rink for another hour or so of a more traditional drills session.  The day included a couple of Caps alumni -- Jeff Halpern on the ice again assisting in conducting the drills, and Brian Sutherby, now a pro scout with the club, looking on from the balcony in each session.  With testing followed by drills of two-man rushes, five-man breakouts, shooting off the rush, we got some pictures of today's activity...

Washington Capitals -- 2015 Development Camp: Day 1

The morning session of Day 1 of Development Camp 2015 was a teaching session, sort of a "Learn To Skate" advanced class.  For the first hour of both the Team White and Team Red sessions in the morning, no pucks were in play as the coaches took the prospects through a series of skating exercises that stressed technique.  And, there was a familiar face among the coaches overseeing the drills.  Some images from the morning session...

Christian Djoos...first on the ice for D-Camp 2015 put your right foot in, and you shake it all about

huddle up...

The "Rookie Revue" goes through their dance steps

Hey, aren't you Jeff Halpern?