Uniform Systems, We Hardly Knew Ya: Knee-jerks & Notes, Caps-Slugs, 12/14

Friday 6:05 p.m.: This evening at Verizon Center I’m thinking about the lovers of apple pie. Of the men who take their pleadings for the hands of the women they love first to the fathers, for permission. Of citizens who instantly yield their seats on public transportation to the elderly and infirmed. Of men who hold open doors for women. All of these upstanding citizens, those who resist the vogue of the moment and honor tradition — today, they were vindicated: by lethal and cruel and unanimous volume did the Washington Capitals this week sh*tcan Reebok’s uniform system.
The Caps, unanimously, voted to toxic waste site what Reebok delivered to them this autumn and revert to the fabric of last season’s sweaters. The vote was unanimous. Wednesday’s game versus the Rags was the debut of the Caps’ relief from all that drowning sensation. The funny thing is, like everybody else, I didn’t learn about this until earlier today, when our own Gustafsson dug up the jewel buried in some team notes, but watching Wednesday’s game even from up high, I recall something vaguely more appealing about the team’s tops. More telling: after Wednesday night’s game, once media was allowed into the Caps’ room, I saw a couple of Caps still in their sweaters. It didn’t register with me at the time, but in every other home game preceding, the players meeting with the press in front of their lockers were always out of their uniform systems. They were too hot to remain in them. But not Wednesday night.
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Henrik Tallinder of the Buffalo Sabres fight for control of the puck during a NHL hockey game on December 14, 2007 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allen Clark/OffWing) It’s one thing, isn’t it, for an innovation to fail merely hours after it’s debuted, but something altogether transcendently humiliating for the entire universe of its users to, by roll call unanimous, announce, “This is not fit for lining the garage residence of my canine.”
I just spoke with Nate Ewell about the timeframe for the change. The Caps made the request some time ago, because the first replacement sweaters arrived in time for Brian Pothier to try one out at Carolina on November 30. Pothier’s thumb went up that night, and two weeks later a full compliment of sweaters arrived. I asked Nate if he’d been present at the unanimous vote, the one where not a single Cap opted to retain the faddish faux sweater. He said he hadn’t been. I wanted to know if in executing the vote the players’ arms shot up so fast in support of the motion that some injured their shoulders — is this what actually happened with Michael Nylander? — or if instead they merely screamed their support for dumping the dress dreck. I also asked Nate who paid for the changes.
“I don’t know whether the league or Reebok does,” he told me, “but we don’t.”
I am also thinking about the more than 6,600 men and women, boy and girls, who signed an online petition last summer to protest Gary Bettman’s profaning of hockey’s iconic look. We at OFB signed it as soon as we found out about it, provided updates and encouragement for the tradition-honoring, and took some ridicule for not genuflecting before the altar of vulgar corporate greed. Sometimes, though, David slays Goliath.
I think as punishment, Commissioner Bettman should be required, for the remainder of his tenure, to attend those swanky, offseason Board of Governors meetings — the ones that are always held in tropical temps — outfitted the entire time in a Reebok original sweat chamber. He should have to golf out under hot desert suns with the Governors in one.
5:50 p.m.: An NHL off-ice official wearing his snazzy navy blue blazer approached me at dinner and asked if he could still secure two tickets to Tuesday night’s OFB Night at the Movies. I got a kick out of that. So he’s coming, and if you haven’t signed up yet, you should as well.
6:50 p.m.: Miss New Jersey is back blogging tonight. So far, no Christmas card, no baked gingerbread goodies from her.
7:05 p.m.: The lower bowl tonight is a lot more filled than it was for either New Jersey Monday or the Rangers on Wednesday. So too is the upper bowl. It’s good to see.
7:20-ish p.m.: It’s so feel-good here at Verizon Center this week that a pair of lovebirds pledged their future lives together in high definition in a cleverly planned out surprise for the future bride. She was playing that game of watch the fast-moving puck on the big brilliant center-ice screen, and when she identified the correct puck, instead of the screen saying “You Win!”, it said, “Will you marry me?” Just then her boyfriend moved in to the screen shot and fell to one knee. Being proposed to in such a romantic setting, the young woman had the good sense to answer affirmatively. Briefly I pondered such an arrangement between Miss New Jersey and me.

  • Friday night’s game brings the very unwelcomed arrival of self-destructive penalties. Two too many men on the ice infractions, and Coach Boudreau would in his post-game remarks note that a third such penalty could and should have been whistled, but one of the officials cut the team a break.
  • Still, the Caps’ first couple of power plays instill more gospel for the newly converted masses. They are wonders to behold. They remind me of precisely what I saw the past couple of seasons in Hershey. Unlike the perimeter “attack” of Glen Hanlon, the Boudreau man-up strategy slices through the four opposing defenders with constant player movement and sharp-angled set-ups, a dab of cross-ice back-door-ing, and chess games of drawing two defenders into poor positioning and exploiting wide-open weak sides. After watching the first two Caps’ man advantages, I want to propose marriage to Steve Kolbe.
  • As if mental lapses with respect to penalties weren’t bad enough, Olie authors the blunder of all blunders out in no-goalie’s land. It was understandable that he moved out to try and thwart danger, but his crucial mistake — which he’d own up to afterward — was playing the puck with just one hand.
  • A secondary assist on Brooks Laich’s goal? There shouldn’t have been a primary. The primary assist came from the end boards behind Ryan Miller.
  • “A strange game tonight, very strange,” Dmitry Chesnokov of SovetskySport tells me. “So many miscues, so many near misses and bad penalties.” It is the least appealing game of the homestand because of these qualities. And, I would learn later in the post-game, it would be Bruce Boudreau’s least favorite. But it’s drawn, apparently, the season’s largest crowd.
  • Buffalo, I suppose, has somehow made itself a rival to the Caps, absent any playoff drama this decade. Their legion of fans here the past couple of seasons seems to actually outnumber those for Pittsburgh and Philadelphia back in the day of out-of-town bus convoys to Capital Center. They boo one of the planet’s greatest players every time he touches the puck. On the one hand, you have to admire the loyalty they exhibit removed far and in many cases by many years from home. On the other, you have to pity a metropolitan economy so meager it engenders so massive a mass exodus of the natives. At Friday’s game there was even a Buffalo Sabres Club of Philadelphia contingent in attendance, so their exodus isn’t confined just to D.C. Perhaps their loyalty would be better directed at improving Buffalo’s economy, and sticking around and doing something about it.

Goalie Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres falls to the ice following a goal by Brooks Laich of the Washington Capitals during a NHL hockey game on December 14, 2007 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allen Clark/OffWing) 8:35 p.m.: During the second intermission I interview Dmitry Kapitonov, a personal trainer to the Caps’ three Russians. And, it turns out, to the team’s two Swedes during his visit. He arrived in Washington around the middle of last month, to assist with the rehabilitation of Alexander Semin’s ankle but also to design and execute in-season workouts for the Caps’ Russians. The Swedes took a liking to what their Russian teammates were doing and joined in. Dmitry is departing for home on December 22. The Russians, not only on the Caps but on teams around the NHL, enjoy working with trainers such as Dmitry during the season. It’s not so much an indictment of the North American way of hockey training as it is a comfort from the home culture.

  • Kolzig was devastated after the game, looking down at his skates the entire time he spoke with the media. He spoke of “gift-wrapping” two goals for Buffalo. He’s always a thoughtfully reflective athlete after games, able with his thoughts to paint a wide landscape of his team’s successes and failures from an entire game, but after Friday night his comments were focused almost exclusively on his errors and their consequences. It was abundantly clear that he thought he was responsible for the loss.
  • “A lot of crap went on in the third [period],” the head coach said afterward. Ovechkin used an even saltier adjective to describe the team’s third period. Of Kolzig’s miscue, Boudreau said, “That’s an error of effort, and you can forgive that.”
  • “The sense of urgency in their team [versus] our team was quite amazing tonight,” Boudreau noted.
  • Boudreau on his team’s failure to seize a special opportunity: “This is our chance, this is our opportunity . . . you’ve won three in a row, you’ve started to go do something. It’s the last game of your homestand. Let’s get a run together, and a run is not three games, a run is six, seven games, and you need two or three of them during the course of a season to be successful . . . For whatever reason we didn’t have that sense of urgency . . . I didn’t think we had 19 players playing to their capabilities tonight.”

“I’ll find out a lot about a lot of guys tomorrow.”

  • Asked about the too-many men on the ice infractions, Boudreau noted, “[We] should have had another — the ref gave us a break, and I think that goes to show the mental preparation of some of the guys. They knew who was up, they know what the deal is. That’s a sure sign of not being into the game mentally.”
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29 Responses to Uniform Systems, We Hardly Knew Ya: Knee-jerks & Notes, Caps-Slugs, 12/14

  1. MulletMan says:

    Did anyone else notice what happened after Olie’s miscue. He fell to the ice face down, then Ovie skated up to him, tapped him on the pads and said something. I think that showed a lot of character and class on Ovie’s part. I imagine that he was telling Olie not to worry about it and “he” would get it back.
    Every goalie lets in some goals that should have been stopped “routine shots” but you also have to think about some of those amazing saves that Olie has made. I think they more then make up for the “weak” goals.

  2. Jordan says:

    I dunno, Olie has been uncharacteristically sloppy lately. He’s let in three or four goals during the homestand from awful angles and wraparounds, which should be no problem for a goalie in the NHL. It is nice to see OV taking his leadership role seriously, though.

  3. Katebits says:

    On the other, you have to pity a metropolitan economy so meager it engenders so massive a mass exodus of the natives. At Friday’s game there was even a Buffalo Sabres Club of Philadelphia contingent in attendance, so their exodus isn’t confined just to D.C. Perhaps their loyalty would be better directed at improving Buffalo’s economy, and sticking around and doing something about it.
    I have no doubt that dealing with the Sabres’ fans in DC over the last few years has been irritating to say the least, but most people at least mask their bitterness with good humor. Couldn’t you have at least tried to make a joke. Buffalo is such an easy target! Come on! A million jokes can be made at our expense. Our economy is chicken wings! We’re all fat! We are perennial losers! It’s always effing snowing!
    This ridiculously earnest criticism of an entire city is beneath you, and totally uncalled for on a sports blog.
    I am tempted to make a joke about how ironically, the comically dedicated jeering proves Buffalo is ten times more passionate about Ovie than the DC fanbase, but I’m too busy shoving chicken wings down my fat throat and booing the baby Jesus in my neighbors nativity scene to bother. Plus, I’m moving to Flint, Michigan in search of work later this week. I gotta pack.
    Lighten up. Sheesh.

  4. (She told me, didn’t she!)
    Kate – Any chance I see you Tuesday night at the movies with a plate of Christmas cookies for me?

  5. lovethegame says:

    What is up with the ice/slush? That was one of the worst sheets of ice I have seen in a long time. It ruins the game and really is dangerous. If you can’t make the pad cooler, cool down the building. I love seing the kids play, but you should cut the ice right away and give it time to freeze.
    Also- Don’t complain about out of town fans buying tickets in your rink to support their team. If you don’t want them there, buy more season tickets. They attend because the love the game and their team. What is wrong with that?

  6. Katebits says:

    Kate – Any chance I see you Tuesday night at the movies with a plate of Christmas cookies for me?
    Hmm. Probably not. At your totally classy suggestion, I’ve decided to live in Buffalo. But I might travel to DC for the next game- and yes, I will bring you some cookies! You shouldn’t have a hard time recognizing me. I’ll be the one having fun! 😀
    Listen, I happen to love Ovie, and I know how annoying it is to have rival fans overtake the home arena (Toronto is just a short drive away from Buffalo, remember?). Making fun of Buffalo is par for the course in most corners of the internet- as it should be- but just try to be a little more creative next time. Your mean-spirited analysis of the relocated Buffalonian was pretty out of proportion considering we’re talking about HOCKEY.
    I happily offer you some cookies as a peace offering. Let’s all relax, and have a cookie together! Please.

  7. MikeZ says:

    I’m thinking Olie’s recent sloppiness has a bit to do with his age, and the fact that Boudreau’s been playing him every night. We don’t have the goalies for a two-goalie system, but I don’t think Kolzig still has the conditioning for a 70+ game season.

  8. Novaron says:

    Those of us complaining about Sabre fans do it because way too many are rude and act like jerks. When Cap fans say they are worse than Flyer and Penguin fans, they certainly were not simply being fans but acting like A**holes. The mild mannered Hurricane fans have expressed similar sentiments about these Buffalosers. I realize that this a minority of Sabre fans, but it is more than a handful. All I can say is NHL in Hamilton and NFL in Toronto. And also I would rather be paying $10 million to Ovechkin than $10 to Vanek

  9. Heather B. says:

    Novaron, in that case I absolutely understand being critical of Buffalo fans. Have at it. But the original post was not criticizing Buffalo fans for boorish behavior, it was criticizing them for simply being in the building and having the temerity to live somewhere besides Buffalo. I think many of those people would be back here in a heartbeat if the situation was different. But it’s not different and the reasons for that are long, complicated, and far beyond a hockey blog.
    For the record, however, I never got the booing of Ovie. I’m sure it goes back to his hit on Briere last season but it always seemed kind of pointless to me.

  10. dmg says:

    We may not have the goalies for an ideal two goalie system but at this point is Johnson that much worse than Kolzig that it wouldn’t make sense to with a 60/40 split?

  11. odessasteps says:

    I know last year, at the last game of the season, the Buffalo fans were horrible. They were going through the upper concourse, stepping on the Ovie giveaway screened poster and the like.

  12. Meg says:

    I’m a former Buffalonian living outside Western New York because of my line of work. I have to say, I find the comment about sticking around and doing something about the economy not only to be a bit out-of-line and offensive but also to be a show of ignorance regarding the economic problems facing Buffalo and the reasons for those problems. If you want to criticize the behavior of Sabres fans at a hockey game, have at it. I certainly wasn’t there, but I imagine that a portion of them deserve it. But to critisize people who leave their hometown so they can get a better job is, well, pretty low. Perhaps it would be better to blog about what you know–hockey for example–and leave the state of the Buffalo economy to those who understand it.

  13. These Buffaloans think I’ve gone wide right in my assessment of their town. True or not, theirs isn’t as thick a skin as the big boys and girls in NYC. More curious to me, why are they so devotedly reading a Caps’ blog? I know how many Sabres blogs I read regularly: fewer than zero.

  14. CapsChick says:

    Careful there, pucksandbooks…I’m the same way, I like to go check out the opposition blogs before and after a game with the Caps. It’s fun to see what they say, get their take on the game – and there are a few blogs for other teams to which I pay a regular visit, Caps game or no. Just sayin’ 😉

  15. Capsaholic says:

    I feel so warm and fuzzy reading all this love at Christmas time. Sheesh, Sabre fans whine when they win too. They should move to Wisconsin, now there’s a match. 😀
    (Cheese for the humor impaired)
    Lighten up indeed.

  16. Heather B. says:

    Thin-skinned is getting upset with a fanbase for booing the opposition and :::gasp::: stepping on posters! As most of us have stated, we have no problem with you commenting on how much the Sabres have underachieved or truly reprehensible fan behavior. Not many people in Buffalo are happy about Thomas Vanek’s play right now and I think it’s safe to say we all hate asshole fans. But those things don’t have anything to do with a city and the people who live – or don’t live – in it and why they make those choices. That’s all.
    As for me reading your blog, one of my favorite things about hockey blogs is they way they’ve opened other teams and players to me. I like seeing how other teams are doing and what other people are feeling about their – and my – team. I devotedly read many blogs written by many fans of many different teams and I often check out new (to me) blogs written by fans of a recent opponent. I’m sorry you evidently don’t like that.

  17. Katebits says:

    I read On Frozen Blog because it is often held up as the gold standard in the “bloggers in the press box” conversation.
    Lesson learned!

  18. InterchangeableParts says:

    We’ve been following this conversation here and discussing it on other blogs throughout the day. Considering OFB’s reputation around the hockey blogosphere, we were surprised and not a little bit disappointed by the lack of response here from pucksandbooks. We find ourselves wondering why the authors here allow commenting on this blog if they are not interested in intelligently and respectfully discussing the ideas they publish.

  19. Gustafsson says:

    Keep in mind that the post was made on late Saturday Morning and it is now only early Sunday Morning. There is plenty of Christmas shopping and merriment to be had, so please forgive us for not sitting by our computers anxiously awaiting our next profound input from our Buffalo readers.
    We are also busy preparing for a movie viewing we set up for Tuesday night after forging partnerships with the theatre, the Embassy of Canada, and the Washington Capitals.

  20. I’ll refrain from pointing out the obvious and noting that pucksandbooks already responded a couple of times here. But apparently he’s expected to be online all day and night, just waiting for someone to post a comment so he can respond. I think that says more about those who criticize him than anything else.
    All I can say is, I think it’s great when the Leafs play in Buffalo and their fans invade HSBC Arena. I only wish they played there more often.

  21. EGGNOG:
    4 egg yolks
    1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
    1 pint whole milk
    1 cup heavy cream
    3 ounces bourbon
    1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    4 egg whites*
    In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.
    Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
    Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.

  22. InterchangeableParts says:

    I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll refrain from pointing out the obvious and noting that pucksandbooks already responded a couple of times here.
    If the flippant and mean-spirited comments here from pucksandbooks are considered “intelligent and respectful discussion about the ideas published on this blog”, then we sincerely apologize. We were merely off-put by the disconnect between the seriousness with which pucksandbooks attacked residents and ex-residents of Western NY for having the unmitigated gall to attend a hockey game rather than solving the area’s decades-old civic problems and the glib manner in which he replied to the well-reasoned and well-written comments from readers. (And do you, as a blog, really believe that “Buffalo readers” are less valid readers than “Caps readers”? If so, then we agree with Katebits: Lesson learned.)

  23. Mellyville9 says:

    Maybe it was the buffalo fan carrying the Capitals blanket, or the one in the section who kept using it to wipe his armpits during Buffalo cheers. Then When I said Buffalo Sucks the sesitivity of the man in front of me who said HEY how bout some positive remarks. To which I responded LETS GO CAPS, SABRES SUCK! hahaha TWO Words for Sabre Fans…..BRETT HULL……no one had an answer for that when I yelled it. haha

  24. chanuck says:

    Just got this from Mirtle’s blog: “Columbus is the second smallest American market in the NHL, larger than only Buffalo, and has less of a population base to draw from than even the Sabres, who rely heavily on Canadian patrons.” http://mirtle.blogspot.com/2007/12/attendance-woes-in-columbus.html
    All this bitching from people that can’t sell out their house when the Leafs come to Buffalo. That place looks and sounds like the Air Canada Centre when they are in town. I hope you enjoy that as much as we enjoy your company. Wait, since most of you don’t live in Buffalo anymore, you wouldn’t know.

  25. steph says:

    “On the one hand, you have to admire the loyalty they exhibit removed far and in many cases by many years from home.”
    And to think, I thought that the post was quite kind to the Sabres fans who attended the game, not mentioning those who continued to cheer during the moment of silence before the National Anthem (one game last year they cheered DURING the National Anthem) or the ones with the t-shirts printed with “Caps fans, shut the PUCK up” or the one with the sign saying “Buffalo OWNS DC” or the ones sitting next to me who felt it necessary to explain to me that DC wasn’t a hockey town and the game was more of a social event for us, thats why we don’t understand we need to get into our seats during breaks in play, when a small group didn’t move fast enough.
    Two sentences about how the loyalty of Buffalo fans might better serve a failing economy seems to be no big deal, since he could have just said “why don’t you just go home.” (much more mean-spirited) As a friend of mine from NY said, it must be the southern hospitality or DC diplomacy – those Sabres fans from Friday night would have never made it out of Midtown Manhattan in one piece.

  26. K says:

    AHH yes…yet another reason why I don’t like Buffalo fans….go back to your own blogs already and leave pucksandbooks alone…he was just making his observations of the game and deserves to have his own opinion and quite frankly I have to agree with him!

  27. Lensellelocix says:

    I am a 30 years old chick, in love wth life, so I have many passions: going out with my girlfriend,practice some sports (tennis), go our in the evening to a club, so all the things that chicks like me do all the time. I also have a great love for [url=http://www.mariju
    ana-outdoor.info]cannabis[/url] . It’ a recent love but very deep.I love to stay home and smoke a lot. I think that one day we will smoke all together. What do you think about it?
    see ya,

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