Taking in an Outdoor Caps’ Practice with the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

The Caps couldn’t have scripted a better reception or conditions for their annual outdoor skate at Chevy Chase Country Club Thursday night. They created a mid-winter postcard to remember for hundreds of hockey loving club members, and there was a tremendous showing to chronicle the skate by local media. It was chilly but clear and breezeless by the rink, perfect for shinny. A not-so-small army of club youths chanted and cheered “Let’s go Caps!”, many in Alexander Ovechkin jerseys, as the Caps drilled briefly and then shinny-scrimmaged.

Washington Capitals at the Chevy Chase Country ClubAt last year’s skate we alone represented the blogosphere, and neither local print nor broadcast covered the outing. But last night four of the local TV stations had cameras and crew at the Chevy Chase Club, and the beat reporters from the Post, the Times, and the Examiner were there as well. We met blogger Chasta, of Love the Game, Don’t Like Puck Bunnies, as we sipped a post-practice round of hot chocolate.

Truth: My fellow OFB-ers OrderedChaos and Gustafsson had cameras snapping away the entire time and collected hundreds of photos. We also shot some video. We’ll be busy with editing this weekend.

Bruce Boudreau put his team through about 10 minutes of drills before turning loose three-man teams against Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson. This was a serious workout — they skated all 200 feet until just before 7:00. That’s a lot of ice for six guys to chase a puck around. Boudreau officiated (to some good-natured griping from his charges) and kept shifts disciplined in duration.

Chief Justice at the Chevy Chase Country ClubU.S. Supreme Court represented! It was a treat to see U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts stroll right up beside us on an observation deck for media and take in the action with his family. A child whom we gathered was Chief Justice Roberts’ son was modeling a smart-looking red Caps’ Ovechkin sweater for the occasion.

When a hockey team enjoys a conspicuous chemistry, just loves competing, practicing, and being around one another, and is placed in a novel setting and encouraged to have fun, the results are a hockey fan’s delight. Bruce Boudreau scripted a scrimmage format tailored to the enjoyment of hockey fans young and old last night. It’s so much fun you want to experience it more than once a season; but then you think, perhaps this is our miniature winter classic and it’s special enough that it ought to be maintained as an annual event.   

This was a remarkable opportunity for hockey fans to see the skilled brilliance of a legend like Sergei Fedorov and a legend in the making in his countryman Ovechkin, up close, with the players competitive but at play with boyish enthusiasm. With so much ice and space, stick-wizardry was a constant on every possession, the trios in constant motion, darting and dashing and distributing with flair and passion, always trying to set up the poetry-perfect tally.        

Not a typo: John Erskine had a hat trick in the scrimmage. So did Donald Brashear.

Boudreau was regularly on the receiving end of players’ complaints about his officiating (which as you might imagine wasn’t particularly mobile). Afterward he pledged never again to yell at a referee, having gained a keen appreciation of what they go through. Anyone else think that pledge might not make it through period one on Saturday afternoon?

Ovechkin was awarded a penalty shot for a minor infraction, and he teed up a hellacious and successful slapshot up high on JT from just about 25 feet out. It glanced off JT’s shoulder quite near his head. Although mildly competitive, this was a fun-loving hour-long session free of rancor and rough-stuff, and it seemed that JT took none too kindly to his star teammate’s bullying blast.   

No one really knew who won the scrimmage — JT’s or BJ’s squad. Ovechkin may have scored a tying tally right as the skate was halted, but referee Gabby didn’t allow it.

Actually, it was abundantly clear who won last night: the spectators.
 
Washington Capitals at the Chevy Chase Country Club (2)

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7 Responses to Taking in an Outdoor Caps’ Practice with the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

  1. OrderedChaos (Mike Rucki) says:

    A note I forgot to add: Brian Pothier skated with the team in warm-ups and during the 3-on-3 scrimmage. It was great to see him on the ice with the team again.

  2. Patrick says:

    Any word on a return for BP? You could let them know that the Horizon Centre is ready for them anytime!

  3. Oneal says:

    Hate to nit-pick.. but John Roberts is technically the Chief Justice of the United States; you don’t need to include Supreme Court on the end of that.
    But that’s good stuff.. thanks for posting it.
    Oneal

  4. this space for rent says:

    I hate to be a party pooper, but I have a really hard time with a whole lot of having fun right now. In case you guys haven’t noticed, we’re looking up at the Devils this morning. We’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us and we need to get down and dirty and get busy fast. We need to straighten out the PP, straighten out the PK, and be willing to get down and dirty and take care of business. Playtime is over, boys. Down to work or we’ll be out of the playoffs coem spring.

  5. pucksandbooks says:

    Party Pooper: no less than the head coach himself addressed the appropriateness of last night with the media after the skate. He said that the team had a hard workout Wednesday and would again on Friday (today), and that it was wholly appropriate to let the proverbial hair down a bit for one night. FWIW, I agree. I would add: it’s also not a stimulus package for the nation this organization is working on, but the playing of ice hockey.
    Sometimes perspective helps.

  6. VT Phil says:

    I think this sort of thing is fine, even though they are losing right now. I remember when Glen Hanlon was here and they were slumping, he took all the guys bowling for a practice…they won the next game if I recall correctly.
    Sometimes you need a change of pace and a chance to just have some fun doing what you do. Yes, these guys play hockey for a living, but it’s not as frequent that they get to just “play” hockey with friends (at least during the season).
    Oh a different note, I noticed that Johnny and Theo got to draft their teams. I’d be real interested to see the draft order.

  7. OrderedChaos (Mike Rucki) says:

    @ VT Phil: The two #1 draft picks were John Erskine and Shaone Morrisonn. Goalies like their d-men, just like quarterbacks love their offensive linemen. Plus Erskine was a scoring machine last night, so clearly worthy of a #1 pick. :-)

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