Saturday, June 30, 2007

This One's a Beaut, Eh?

Tomorrow at 12:01 P.M. EST hunting season for free agents officially opens. GMs are loading up the trucks with ammunition (new practice facilities, hot young superstars) and sustenance (a hefty increase in the salary cap to over $50 million), prepared to wait in the tall weeds for that trophy to hang over their mantle.

...okay, I have to stop the hunting metaphor there, because...ick.

It is, next to trade deadline day, one of the biggest personnel movement days of the year in the NHL. The days leading up to it are filled with whirlwind predictions and frantic last minute signings of players on the cusp of becoming UFAs. Undoubtedly the decisions made tomorrow and over the next few days will be picked apart by so-called "experts" and armchair GMs alike - the reality is only time will tell which signings are blockbuster deals and which ones are busts.

But whether you buy into the
NHL spin of this year's pool being extremely deep or the more pessimistic (and likely more realistic) point of view of SI's Allan Muir, it's sure to be entertainment. Will Tampa finally get the goaltender who won't become a liability...or a scapegoat? Can the Ducks hold onto the core of their Cup-winning roster? How many Buffalo fans will leap off their roofs as Drury and Briere hightail it out of town?

And most importantly here in DC, will the Caps address the few gaping holes in their lineup that everyone knows are there? If you read the pundits, of course, you know that we're going to sign Daniel Briere and Brian Rafalski. No, wait - make that Scotty Gomez and Scotty Hannan. Or...hmm. How about Jeremy Roenick and Andy Sutton? (At least Mike Green's head would be safe.)

Hey, I hear Peter Bondra may be available. For a change.

The important thing to remember, something that far too many people forget this time of year, is that it's not about making a big splash necessarily. It's about making the right one. You need more than future hall-of-famers to win Stanley Cups, and the Caps aren't going to win it with one offseason of signings. Do they need to make some noise, be it by free agency or trades? Absolutely. Will I weep into my pillow if they don't sign a Chris Drury or a Scott Hannan? No.

Hell, I'll take a Michael Nylander and a Tom Preissing and sleep well - they're not sexy names compared to some of the others but they're hard-working, character guys with, get this...skill. I'm sold.

And don't be scared off by the lack of rumblings in the rumor mill involving the Caps. If you know this team and this organization at all you know that GMGM keeps his dealings close to the vest, revealing nothing until he has to. Maybe he should have been in charge of the uniform unveiling...


Of course, let us not forget what July 1 also represents - Canada Day! On July 1, 1867 the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec were officially combined to form the Canadian confederation. And although complete (sort of) independence from the British crown wasn't fully achieved until 1982, it marks the beginnings of their very long path to becoming the great hockey-loving nation we know today.

So in honor of the country that took me in for four years and the province that gave me my beloved Habs, let's all join in together with the Canadian national anthem the way it's meant to be sung, en français and in English:

O Canada!

Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée
Il sait porter la croix!

Ton histoire est une épopée

Des plus brillants exploits.
God keep our land
Glorious and free
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!



Friday, June 29, 2007

Offseason Activity

It's summer. It's hot. July 1 is still two days away. It kind of makes you want to jump off a building, doesn't it?

Well, fear not, loyal readers! Straight from the Cheap Seats, here are:

64 Things to Do During the Offseason

1. Watch “The Goal” over and over on YouTube until you’ve memorized Joe B.’s call word for word, ending with “Simply sensational!” Perform it at family gatherings without being asked.

2. Reenact “The Goal” on the tiled floor of your kitchen or bathroom.

3. Create miniature versions of each of the Capitals and set up a diorama scene depicting your favorite game from this past season. Bonus points if you make a tiny flying Briere suspended in mid-air...oh, CapsChick, no. That crosses the line into tasteless. (Or maybe hilarious? Come on, people, he was fine! You know I wouldn’t say it if he’d been really badly hurt...)

4. Watch baseball. No, really.

5. Watch soccer. No, not really.

6. Make a Sidney Crosby voodoo doll and think of fun places to stick the pins.

7. Go into downtown DC and pretend you’re a tourist – add a fanny pack and a confused expression while staring at the metro map for extra realism.

8. Buy an air horn and sit on your couch, alternating three blasts with shouts of “Let’s Go Caps!” (The neighbors will LOVE you!)

9. Grow a mullet.

10. Play the Comcast Sportsnet SportsNite Summer Drinking Game (patent pending):
- take a drink if one of the anchors stumbles over their lines or mispronounces a local athlete’s name
- take one drink if they show a Nats player dropping the ball; take two drinks if it’s Ryan Zimmerman
- chug a beer every time they show a 300 lb football player running around in the 100 degree heat
- chug a six-pack if he passes out
- do a shot of tequila if they show Manny Acta looking like he’s going to cry
- down a bottle of vodka if Teddy Roosevelt wins the “Running of the Presidents”
- do three baby shots whenever they show or make reference to Tiger Woods’ wife and/or new baby
- throw the bottle at the TV if they make some joke about calling the kid "Tigger"
- drop a Jager bomb whenever they air a ‘highlight’ of the Nats giving up more than 3 runs in an inning (proceed with caution, that one could get dangerous)
- do 5 shots whenever they show more than a 30-second clip of Mystics basketball
- do 10 shots if you recognize any of the players
- take a drink if they use the words “Orioles manager” and “fired” in the same sentence
- take a drink if they show footage of a Red Sox or Yankees game that doesn’t involve a local team; take two if it’s a Red Sox vs. Yankees game
- finish off your entire liquor supply if they talk about the Caps’ rookie camp at all

11. Watch the clip of Semin throwing the puck at the net during the Caps-Leafs game. Then do your best impression of Chad Kilger’s best impression of a whiny 5 year old.

12. Find a picture of your least favorite player and use Paint or PhotoShop to give him a pretty new look – I suggest an evening gown with matching handbag.

13. Read every post ever written in your favorite blog (*cough*A View from the Cheap Seats*cough*)

14. Come up with an ending for the following joke: Ovechkin, Crosby and Phaneuf walk into a bar...

15. Paint the Caps’ new logo all over your car/house then ask people to guess what team you root for.

16. Perfect the dying art of origami.

17. Surround yourself with a dozen empty folding chairs and throw on a tape of a Caps’ game. Ah, just like being there, isn’t it?

18. Enter a high dive competition under the name “Sidney Crosby”.

19. Watch Washington Post Live. NO, NOT REALLY.

20. Create paper dolls of the unrestricted free agents and dress them up in little jerseys as they sign with new teams.

21. Travel to the small Canadian towns where your favorite Caps live and knock on everyone’s door asking if they are Capitals fans.

22. Stage a Chris Chelios’ lookalike contest among the neighborhood bulldogs and pugs. Winner gets a liver snap and a contract extension.

23. Go to the race track and bet on the #8 horse in every race.

24. Make up a dirty version of Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “The Good Old Hockey Game”

25. Do your own “Slapjack” stunt, complete with padded eagle costume.

26. Search for the meaning of life using only Google.

27. Go to a hotel and order everything on the room service menu. Then when it arrives, clench your fists and say “OVECHKIN!” Repeat at your own risk.

28. Walk the streets of Buffalo wearing a Chris Neil jersey...just to see what happens.

29. Set up a silent vigil outside Verizon Center with flowers, candles, and a blown-up picture of Kris Beech.

30. Call up Kansas City’s Ticketmaster outlet and ask for 10 tickets to the next KC Penguins game.

31. Go to a Nats game, sit behind home plate, and yell out “Nice save, Olie!” every time Brian Schneider blocks a wild pitch.

32. Go to a Mystics game, sit courtside, and yell out “Put the biscuit in the basket!” every time someone shoots the ball.

33. Write Ted hundreds of e-mails a day begging him to switch the jerseys back to black...just for fun.

34. Go ice skating and yell out “toe pick!” whenever someone falls.

35. Go to a friends’ birthday party in spandex underclothes and try to light their birthday candles with a blowtorch.

36. Order nothing but "wodka" drinks at your local bar...pronouncing it "wodka" every time.

37. Watch major league lacrosse to hear Joe B.’s dulcet tones. (I wonder if anyone “scampers into the zone” in lacrosse?)

38. Visit a sports bar and complain loudly about the lack of hockey being shown on the TV screens.

39. Walk down the street with a hockey stick and spear people in the groin; if you get stopped by the police, simply point out that Briere does it all the time without punishment.

40. Spend a night in jail.

41. Get on a bus or the metro during rush hour and wait until its really quiet, then randomly yell out “Hat trick, Alexander Semin!” and see who stares.

42. Go to a children’s soccer team and recite the speech from ‘Miracle’ to the team that is losing. If that doesn’t work, try the speech from ‘Animal House’.

43. Rearrange the shelves at your grocery store so that the peanut butter and cookies are all on the top shelf.

44. Make a life-size replica of your favorite player out of Popsicle sticks. Add glitter and macaroni for extra flare.

45. Give in to the NHL’s subliminal messages and just build that damn shrine to Sidney Crosby already.

46. Watch any hockey game from last season and count the number of phrases that could double as dirty euphemisms.

47. Sit in the corner for the rest of the evening after realizing you spent 2+ hours thinking only of dirty euphemisms.

48. Dig up your old Caps’ music videos from the late ‘80s and sing along at the top of your lungs. (Come on, you know the words: “Double trouble, that’s what we’ve got...what are we gonna do? Double trouble, that’s what we’ve got; the Capitals red white and blue.”)

49. Start referring to your cubicle at work as the “sin bin”. Stand up occasionally and bang on the wall, hurling insults at your boss as they walk by.

50. Look for a new job.

51. Host a “Mighty Ducks” trilogy marathon, joining in with the chants of “Quack, quack, quack” with full enthusiasm. If anyone is left standing, follow it up with a bonus showing of “Youngblood”.

52. Go to the beach. What, you think they all have to be insane? It’s summer, go to the beach!

53. Walk around for an entire day saying nothing but “my name is Inigo killed my father...prepare to die” over and over and over. And over and over. And over. Throw in the occasional “aaaaaaaaas yooooooooou wiiiiiiiiish” just to throw people off.

54. Play 6 degrees of separation using your favorite hockey players. Bonus if you can get from Mike Eagles to Shane Doan in less than 6 steps...or at all.

55. Hold a “Blades of Steel” tournament and award the winner a tiny replica Stanley Cup, which they must then parade through the streets.

56. Cut out real estate listings in the Pittsburgh area and mail them to Sidney Crosby.

57. Stop random people on the street and ask them, “Do you know #8?”

58. Send Chris Drury a free, one-way plane ticket to Washington, DC everyday until he gives in. Include a note offering him the use of your couch until he finds a place to live.

59. Clean your house from top to bottom using your old Jagr jersey as a dust rag.

60. Go to an ice cream parlor and ask for free samples of every flavor, then leave without buying any.

61. Finally rent and watch Citizen Kane.

62. Understand why you had never rented and watched Citizen Kane after falling asleep halfway through and waking up with a cheese doodle stuck to your face.

63. Teach your two-year-old child/cousin/niece/nephew/etc. to clap whenever you say “Ovechkin”...or to boo whenever you say “Jagr”.

64. Brainstorm fun new names for potential lines next year. For example, in an alternate universe you could have the Fleischmann-Steckel-Ovechkin line...or as I call it, the Steck O’ Butter line. Thank you, folks, I’ll be here all week! Try the veal.
[Okay, yes - Fleischmann's is a brand of margarine, not butter but come on - Steck O' Margarine just doesn't sound as good.]

Extra Cheap Seats challenge: if you actually do any of these things, film it, stick it on YouTube and send me an e-mail so I can share it...I'm always happy to provide a forum for people making asses of themselves.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Obscurity, Thy Name is Hockey 4

The question came up earlier today as to where I got these random quotes. Some of them have been contributed by friendly readers (and are attributed as such) but mostly it is from a lifetime of watching too much TV and too many movies...and getting excited whenever the briefest mention of hockey comes up. After that its just a matter of tracking down the exact quote using whatever information I can remember and our good friend Google. Ah, the inner workings of a blogger's life - thrilling, no?

Here we go - I'll ease you in with a pretty simple one, entry #5:

Man: Oh my God! A penalty shot with only four seconds left. It's your child versus mine! The winner will be showered with praise; the loser will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore!

Now here's the toughie - if anyone knows it, I'll be shocked. I'm even using two quotes from the same scene just to help you out, but I don't know that it will. Oh, and good luck using Google on this one...I've checked, if it's on there it's buried deep in the vastness of the interweb. So there.

#1: Perfect? It’s a hockey game.
#2: It’ll be fun. There’ll be cheerleaders and clowns, people doing the wave.
#1: You have no idea what a hockey game is, do you?

Girl A:
It’s cold in here.
Girl B: It’s the ice.
Girl A: Oh my God, there really is ice. Cool.
Girl B: What are you doing here?
Girl A: I’m hockeying.
Girl B: That’s not a word.

Give it your best shot - good luck!


Scotty S. Joins the Best

It's official - Scott Stevens will join fellow distinguished candidates Al MacInnis, Mark Messier and Ron Francis in the Hockey Hall of Fame November 12. For those of us who watched him develop into one of the league's best defenseman here in Washington, there was never any doubt.

Stevens may have hoisted the Cup with New Jersey, but I will always remember him wearing the Capitals' jersey first, whether he was lifting the crowd out of their seats with yet another bone-rattling check at center ice or smiling down at me from my Donald Duck orange juice growth poster.

Ah, memories.

Nothing more I can really say about Scotty that isn't put more eloquently by Mike congrats, Scott. It is a well-deserved honor to be sure!


Obscurity, Thy Name is Hockey 3

(Slightly belated) "Name That Obscure Hockey Reference" time, kiddies...which henceforth will be known as NTOHR, because that title is too long and I'm too lazy.

We'll kick today's contest off with entry #3 (provided by OFB's own OrderedChaos):

Three men are playing a hockey video game...

Man 1: I wish they still had fights in this game so I could bitch-slap Wayne.
Man 2: What? They don't have fighting anymore?
Man 1: Doesn't that suck?
Man 2: Why'd they get rid of the fighting? It was the best part of the old version.
Man 3:
I think kids were hittin' each other or somethin', man.

Man 1: Yeah, but you know what Smitty*? You can make their heads bleed in this one.
Man 2: Make somebody's head bleed.
Man 3: C'mon man, we’re in the playoffs.
*Name changed

Here's entry #4 - again, look for clues in the quote as to location and other hints that may help you narrow it down. And yes, I'm aware that they're picking on the Capitals. The one time they're mentioned in a pop culture reference and that's how they've been portrayed. Yay.

Man 1: You guys go out?
Man 2: John* had Capitals tickets.
Man 1: Good game?
Man 2: You know what I'd do if I... No, it wasn't. You know what I'd do if I owned a hockey team? I'd hire a sumo wrestler. I'd give him a uniform, transportation, 500 bucks a week to sit in the goal, eat a ham sandwich, and enjoy the game. My team would never get scored on.
Man 1: Your team would get scored on constantly.
Man 2: Maybe, but we'd sell a few tickets.
Man 1: Yeah, 'cause sumo wrestling sells out all the time in big hockey towns.
Man 2: My idea's totally unviable?
Man 1: Well, you're a Democrat. It's a pretty big club.

*Name changed

If you know both, great - if you know one, great. We continue until someone correctly identifies both (don't forget to identify the characters, too), so take your best shot!

I'll tell you, these get harder every day. The next round goes up at 8:23 pm EST tonight and I assure you its a toughie, so get those thinking caps on!


I Heart the Caps

It’s funny, I was just about to fire off a nasty e-mail to all of my blogger playoff pool participants who have yet to pay up...when I realized I hadn’t even written my love letter to the Caps. Oops. Now some would say that this entire blog is a giant love letter to the Caps sprayed with perfume and sealed with a kiss, and should therefore serve as adequate payment for falling short in my own pool. I’m guessing those people aren’t among the others who are stuck writing schmaltzy stuff about a team they pay little or no attention here goes.

I was born into this crazy, mixed-up world of Caps fanaticism, a product of a hockey-mad father whose devotion to this team of ne’er-do-wells is practically etched in the annals of Washington sports history. Legend has it that while in the womb I kicked to the strains of “Let’s Go Caps”; that I was born already wearing a tiny Caps jersey; that my first words were “what the Caps really need is a good scoring-line center”...

...but I digress.

It’s not just a product of my raising that has me writing innocuous rants about a hockey team at two in the morning – after all, my younger sister hasn't known a player's name since Joe Reekie wore the eagle and my older sister, while a thoroughly passionate Caps fan in her own right, still maintains some semblance of normalcy in her fandom. It is that normalcy, that sanity, that seems to have skipped over me altogether and left me to pour out my hockey-related hopes and dreams here day after day amid the indifferent masses of our nation’s capital.

Washington, DC is not a traditional sports town. You have in this city of roughly 600,000 people residents from up and down the east coast, across the country, around the world (and approximately 95% of the city of Pittsburgh). With that transience comes a lack of unity, particularly when it comes to sports. To be a product of the DC area is a rarity; to be a lifelong fan of a local sports team, even more so. Throw in hockey fan to that equation and you might as well be one of those stuffed dodo birds at the Smithsonian.

It’s never fazed me, though. Sure, I get the funny looks and I’ve heard the knee-slappers about going to a boxing match and seeing a hockey game break out (ha...ha.). But it doesn’t matter. Because something about this team has gotten under my skin. I don’t just mean this particular crop of youngsters who will skate out onto the ice in their shiny new threads come October; I mean the entire team – the history, the heartache, the hope, all of it. I can’t shake it, and I have no desire to do so.

My earliest memories are of Rod Langway, Scott Stevens, Mike Ridley, Mike Gartner, and Bengt Gustafsson; of white pom-poms with plastic handles and organ music; of pizza goals and the Patrick Division. Of playoff hopes and playoff losses. Of lying on my stomach in front of the TV, watching in awe as my team took the ice, knowing that they couldn’t lose while I matter how many times they did.

There is something special about a franchise that can frustrate you to the point of tearing out your hair then in one fell swoop suck you right back in again. It is an indefinable quality that brings us back year after year, but “it” is there. It’s how the team survived those disastrous first few years of existence. It’s how they fill the arena on opening day despite the heartbreaking end to the previous season just a few months before. It is the downfall of a team one year, only to see it reawakened by an influx of youth and vitality the next; the departure of one superstar only to see him replaced with a brighter one.

These days it isn’t easy to be a Caps fan. There’s a lot of hurry up and wait, a lot of rebuilding and evolution and growth, a lot of talk about the future when all we want is to see the present. There are promises being made and expectations being set – and whether those expectations are realized remains to be seen. We won’t know the outcome until the puck drops in the fall, or until the final whistle blows to signal the end of another season.

But when is it ever easy to be a Caps fan? That’s not why we love this team. If we wanted to pick a winner, we’d have jumped on the Red Wings bandwagon, ridden the coattails of the Hurricanes, flown in a ‘V’ with the Ducks...but we didn’t.

Instead we stand by our team, fully aware that someday our ship will come in and victory will be that much sweeter because we earned it. We enter each year with collective amnesia, forgetting the horrors we have witnessed in the past and approaching a new season with the bright eyes of an eternal optimist. We revel in the veteran leadership of Olie Kolzig and Chris Clark, in the grit and work ethic of Matt Pettinger and Brian Sutherby, in the skill and youthful exuberance of Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin...and in the future hopes of Niklas Backstrom and Karl Alzner.

And we wait for another year to begin.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Obscurity, Thy Name is Hockey 2

Here we go, entry #2 in our "Name That Obscure Hockey Reference":

Man 1: Poulet passes it up to Leetch!
Man 2: Leetch spots Messier in the crease- there's the pass!
Man 1: We'll take a brief time out while Messier stops to look at some women's shoes.

Who knows it?

Hint - there are some clues in this one as to the city and the era in which this reference takes place...I don't know if that will be enough for some of you, but we'll see.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Incoming: '80s Nostalgia

It's been a few days since the Caps reverted back to their classic color scheme of red, white and blue, and after discussion ad nauseum across the hockey world the verdict on the redesign seems to be split.

Love it or hate it, however, to Caps fans the return to the vintage colors represents so much more than a nod to nostalgia.

They are the colors that a young Dale Hunter wore as he broke through the Philly defense to score the game-winning and series-winning overtime goal against the Flyers. They are the colors that Rod Langway wore when he was dubbed "the Secretary of Defense". They are the colors that sniper Peter Bondra wore when he scored his first goal as a Capital.

So to commemorate this momentous occasion the only way I know how, I figured it was time to roll out some treasured moments in Caps' history, starting with 1987-88. Enjoy.
(And sorry for the poor quality - I had to film these right off the TV, because for some reason VHS isn't compatible with the internet. Go figure.)

"Double Trouble" - a classic!
Sorry, there was just no preparing you for that. Hey, did you think it was only the Chicago Bears who made embarrassing videos in the '80s?

How about the flip side, "Out on Top"?

Way to point, boys! Keep your eye on Dale Hunter, too - he is digging this, man.
Stick around until the end for some fancy dance moves from a former captain...

Now 1988-89 saw a few more mullets, a few more pairs of tapered, stonewashed jeans, some new faces...and a fresh batch of hits.

Here's newly acquired superstar and future rock star Dino Ciccarelli and the boys pretending to belt it out in "Capital Feeling":

We'll wrap up this stroll down memory lane with a catchy tune named, oddly enough, "Red, White and Blue"...

...wait a sec, was that...? No, couldn't be. At about the 2:14 mark? Yes! That mustachioed, mulleted, fresh-faced youngster singing his heart out is none other than our own goaltender, Olie Kolzig.

Ah, poor Olie. I'm betting he hoped this video would never surface - sorry, buddy. Just like tapes of celebrities, er, canoodling, embarrassing crap from the '80s will always see the light of day.


For the Trivia Lover in All of Us

Busy day, so quickie post...

First off a note to the Caps and/or the NHL - not offering the new logo on any women's apparel? Sexist. Oh, but luckily you can buy horrific pink sweatpants with the old logo on them for an exorbitant amount of money...

Now, taking a cue from my intrepid super junior reporters I'm kicking off a daily "Name That Obscure Hockey Reference" game!

We'll start with an easy one:

Man 1: Gretzky shoots!
Man 2: Oh, Gretzky is denied...choked on the open net.

If you know the reference, be the first to drop the name of the film/TV show and the names of the characters to win! (No actual prizes will be given, as is keeping with Cheap Seats' policy. We play for pride, remember?)

Check back around this time every day this week for more fun obscure hockey references from your favorite movies and shows!

Have a good obscure reference? E-mail it to me: capsfan82 (at) hotmail (dot) com. Just remember, if I use a reference you send in and you try to enter, I will no cheating!


Monday, June 25, 2007

If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

As of today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Caps have tendered qualifying offers to the following players: defensemen Steve Eminger, John Erskine, Jamie Hunt and Milan Jurcina and forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Jakub Klepis, Brooks Laich, Dave Steckel and Brian Sutherby. Good to see some familiar faces sticking around, at least for now. Select players (Eminger, Erskine, Jurcina, Laich and Sutherby) have until July 5 to accept the offer or go to arbitration; everyone else must notify the club of whether the offer is accepted by July 15.

However, today also marked the end of the road for a few players, most notably Kris Beech and Jiri Novotny. Other players not given qualifying offers included goaltender Maxime Daigneault, defenseman Trevor Byrne, and forwards Jonas Johansson, Louis Robitaille, Matt Stefanishion and Joey Tenute.

Conceivably the release of Beech and Novotny frees up some space at center for Backstrom and a free agent, especially if Brooks Laich were to move back to wing like many people are predicting he will. Novotny probably won't be missed as his time here was spent being pretty much invisible, but I'll admit I'm a little sad to see Beech go. Again.

I know he was given numerous chances to make it, though, and didn't take advantage of those opportunities - so I'll wave the handkerchief with a sad tear in my eye...and throw open my arms to welcome whomever takes his place.

So long, Kris. So long, Jiri.

Hello Backstrom and...Drury? (Ha! That rhymes...)

Speaking of new additions: if you haven't already, be sure to check out the video clip of Karl Alzner's post-draft press conference. A shortened version is available on the Caps' Draft Day page, or if you get the Caps' newsletter you can view the whole 10 minute clip.

Well-spoken, funny, snappy dresser...perfect. A+ to McPhee and the Caps scouting staff on drafting mere personality alone.

Now if he really turns out to be the second coming of Lidstrom, I'll be even happier...


Bored Bored Bored

With the draft over and a week to go until July 1, there's not a whole lot to talk about other than to go over the Caps' draft picks...and for that you should probably go to someone who knows something about them or at least cares enough to research it. Instead I'm resigned to posting some random synaptic firings (but really, what else is new?):

- For some reason the lyrics to this song seem weirdly reminiscent of how Caps fans are feeling this offseason...

Don't talk of June, don't talk of fall
Don't talk at all - show me!
Never do I ever want to hear another word,
There isn't one I haven't heard.
Here we are together in what ought to be a dream;
Say one more word and I'll scream!
Don't wait until wrinkles and lines
Pop out all over my brow,
Show me now!

"Show Me" from My Fair Lady

- Here is, quite possibly, my favorite "Frozen Moment" from that doesn't involve the Caps:

What a shock...Hasek flailing around on his back while the puck goes in over him. It just does my hockey-starved heart good to see that!


Sunday, June 24, 2007

When All Is Said and Done

As the dust settles from the 2007 NHL Draft, there are, as always, some people who think they could have done better than the man wearing the GM hat for the Caps.

As I've said many times, I know very little about this draft or any draft for that matter - but this much I know: this was, by all accounts, a weaker draft class than usual. The difference between a guy taken 15th and a guy taken 35th is not as vast as in previous years, making everything beyond the top 5 or 6 essentially a crap shoot.

I also know this - people who are complaining that GMGM made no trades for actual players should consider two things. One is the fact that no one was making trades for actual players this weekend. We had two goalies switching conferences and then...after that? Nada. The other is the fact that, although acquiring no warm bodies, GMGM wasn't completely stationary, either. The Caps made a few trades to move down in this year's draft while still managing to a) get the players they wanted and b) stockpile more picks for next year, a draft with potentially much more depth to it.

To build a successful franchise you need to create depth every year, meaning we can't just wait for our current Caps to grow into their roles and hope one Stanley Cup will tide us over, as amazing as it would be. We need a pipeline of continuous talent coming in, and if the Caps didn't see what they wanted this year I'm happy to wait until 2008 to see what else they can get.

Let's also not forget that it takes two to tango - McPhee can't simply go around to the other 29 teams and put whatever players he wants in a shopping cart. Someone else has to want to buy what we have to sell, and what they offer in return has to be a fair deal. Without having a wire tap on McPhee's phone (since none of us are close, personal friends with "President" Bush), to even assume we know what was offered and what was asked for is simply ridiculous. Who knows what kind of crazy offers were being floated, what names from our roster were being tossed around? No need to hurry into a trade just because the pundits thought there would be a lot of has to be right.

Yes, the Caps passed on Esposito. They passed on Cherepanov. They passed on Petrecki. Guess what - so did a lot of other teams. Why single out GMGM when numerous other GMs did the exact same thing? The reality is, the Caps didn't see what they wanted in any of those three players and whether or not that comes back to bite us in the ass remains to be seen. It's not like the Rangers and Penguins don't already have guys who like to score on the Caps - what's one more? And if Alzner pans out, it may not matter...imagine, a stay at home defenseman in a Caps uniform. It's a beautiful thing.

This summer is going to be about creating a team that can consistently contend for the playoffs, we all know that. Everyone, including McPhee, is aware that time is running out for GMGM to get this rebuild to pay off. Changes need to be made and results need to be seen or else you can bet we'll start shopping around for another GM come next summer. In the meantime we can only sit and utter the mantra that has been handed down through decades of Caps fandom: have a little patience, the best is yet to come.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Draft Day: Complete

(Sorry for the poor quality but my camera hates me.)

Okay, two things that are funny about this moment:

1) Watch as the curtain falls...right on top of their heads. Brilliant.


2) Check out Clymer and Schultz with their blonde moment -

Joe B.:"About face, boys..."
Ben and Jeff: "Uh...about wha-?"
Joe B.:"...turn around?"
Ben and Jeff: "Oh! Okay..."

After the unveiling the players took a few minutes to answer questions...

Jeff Schultz

- on taking his playoff experience from Hershey and applying it to the Caps' postseason hopes:

"I think playing in those high pressure games helps. Each game is a learning experience and you had something different in each game. The different things I was taught and learned from each of those games can be brought into these Capitals games this year. I think just playing with different guys helped too.”

Chris Clark

- on new additions to the Caps:

“If things happen like that, we are bringing in new guys, you want them to be part of this team as quickly as possible, so that becomes part of the leadership job.”

- on his first season as captain:

“For myself I think it went well; it’s what I expected, more media talk and all that fun stuff. But I don’t want to shy away from any of that; I’ve embraced everything and love being a captain, especially of this team. The guys were great, we had a great team. It wasn’t really tough to get everybody on the same page, it wasn’t tough to bring guys along. Everybody wanted to be part of this team and stay together so my job that way was easy.”

“We have our core guys, 15-16 of the same guys we had last year so it makes the job even easier because we were all together and we’ve known each other and we know the system we know all the on-ice stuff it’s easier to build that way as well.”

- on the similarities between captaining a young Team USA and an equally young Caps team:

“It was very, very similar. I was one of the oldest guys on the team. I don’t feel that old and I think on other teams I wouldn’t be that old, but here and in the World Championships I was one of the older guys. But [everyone] was ready to skate, ready to listen to everything, and our coaches were great. Everyone worked really well together and we became a team very fast, and that showed on the ice, how well we played. I think we definitely had a contending team and it was just too bad to lose in a shootout like that like we did."

Ben Clymer

- on his rehab since having surgery at the end of last season:
“I met with the doctors today and they said everything looked good. I think it’s one of those things where you don’t really truly find out exactly what’s going on until you’re really playing at a really high level. That’s something I’ve tried to start to do in the summer but it’s still early and I don’t want to push it. There’s no need to push it right now, so I’m going to pick up my skating a little bit more in the next two weeks after talking w/ the doctors and trainers. It feels good but I’m still hoping it’ll feel even better.”

- on his draft day experience:

“I have a funny draft story, actually. I was picked by Boston 27th and there were 26 teams [the year] I was picked. So I was the first pick not to go to the podium. So they call my name and I don’t know where to go because I’m not going to the podium so I’m standing up, looking around, I don’t know what to do. Finally some lady flags me down and brings me to the table. In hindsight it had to be hilarious, I didn’t know what to do. Everyone was probably looking at me like, geez, I’m glad we’re not you. It was a fun day but that was certainly an uncomfortable, odd part of it just not knowing where you're supposed to go."

Let's not forget what this day was really about - the addition of the newest Capital, Karl Alzner. Although I know nothing about his actual skill and ability as a player, I like him already. He's very quotable and seems to be a laid-back, fun guy. For a team that values chemistry and personality so highly that is a very good sign. Plus, he likes the new jerseys (per

“I think they’re awesome. I’m a big fan of these. I didn’t know there was going to be a new uniform. I love them. It goes a little bit old school here. I saw a guy in the stands a little bit earlier, he was wearing a Dino Ciccarelli jersey. It was awesome. I was just saying I think those are sweet. To go back to those is a good choice. I really like it.”

I love this, by the way. When asked whether he sensed the Caps’ interest in him based on his pre-draft interview with them:
“I wasn’t sure. They caught me off guard at the end when they asked me to tell a joke and I didn’t think my joke was very good. I wasn’t sure, I thought maybe they were going to judge me on the joke. I thought it went well and I knew that there was a possibility. Whenever the teams come up that you are ranked around, your stomach starts to get a little bit antsy.”

And this:

“I love to talk. I don’t mind talking to anybody and everybody. I don’t think this makes me nervous. I have had to do it a couple times now. When I made World Juniors, those were the brightest lights I’ve ever seen in my life shining in my eyes. That kind of helped me get my feet into the waters there. I just love it. I like answering questions that people have. I have lots of questions too. I like to answer them.”

So personality-wise, I'd say he's a good fit. Whether he can play at the level at which the Caps will need him to play over the coming years is another question, but its a question that hangs over the head of every single one of the newly-drafted players. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Boys in Pretty Outfits

Photo courtesy of Ken Berard

It's been a long night, a long day, and a long week so I'm going to hold off on the full coverage of the Draft Day Party until tomorrow. I will leave you with this tidbit, though - up close the uniforms look really sharp and the players seem to genuinely like them (despite the scary mannequin-esque look in the above picture). All in all, I have to say they're really growing on me.

More tomorrow!


Draft Day Mania Hits Arlington

It's....DRAFT DAY! *dancing to imaginary music in my head*

Okay, so I'm not a draft geek as I've said before and I know just about as much about the top five guys as I do about the bottom five. The draft usually holds little excitement for me, although I do love seeing the pimply-faced teens shaking as they make their way up to the podium. I love the pomp and circumstance of it all, the GMs thanking the host city and/or their fans at home, the requisite booing of Gary Bettman (and whatever team happens to be a rival of the host city), the awed gasps when the smallest trade is announced...all fun.

The draft itself? It's kind of anticlimactic because unless they're an Ovechkin-esque player the likelihood of any of these young'uns pulling on a jersey in the upcoming season is pretty slim. I don't get all excited by a player being taken out of the speculated order or a player taking a nosedive from where they were projected to go.

So why am I dancing around to imaginary music?

Because it's hockey. It's something. It's a breather from the heat and humidity of the DC summer, a respite rinkside as the future of the NHL is officially introduced to the world. That's on top of the fact that the new uniforms will be officially revealed tonight, as modeled by our very own Washington Capitals. Wonder if they'll do a little turn on the catwalk in their new red white and blues...if they start "Voguing" I promise to get it on video.

(Too bad Brash won't be there.)

For those of you in the area, either attending the draft party or just within stumbling distance of Ballston, feel free to swing by Bailey's after the party for the after-party. Bailey's is located right in Ballston Mall, on the corner of Wilson and Glebe in Arlington. The official end time is 10:00 so as soon as we bloggers finish up our press duties we'll head over, I'd say around 10:30.

It will be totally informal because I'm not a good planner like JP - I figure we'll just invade and set up shop somewhere. Don't mock, but I'll even have a little sign that says CAPS FANS or something similar, so keep an eye out. You can also look for my illustrious fellow blogger DCSportsChick, who actually has a picture on her blog.

I like to keep my anonymity just in case I piss someone off...wouldn't be the first time. Hope to see you all there!


History Lesson Complete

Whew! Getting down to the wire, folks - just a few more hours before we find out who the newest Caps will be...and where they'll come from. Will we horde our draft picks and stockpile more fresh-faced youngsters? Will we bundle off one of the boys with our #5 pick and subject someone else to the new jersey? Only time will tell. In the meantime, let's dive into the juicy drafts of the last four years:

2003 Draft
1. Marc-Andre Fleury
2. Eric Staal
3. Nathan Horton
4. Nikolai Zherdev
5. Thomas Vanek
6. Milan Michalek
7. Ryan Suter
8. Braydon Coburn
9. Dion Phaneuf
10. Andrei Kostitsyn
16. Steve Bernier
17. Zach Parise
18. Eric Fehr
19. Ryan Getzlaf
28. Corey Perry
29. Patrick Eaves
45. Patrice Bergeron
47. Matt Carle
83. Stephen Werner
148. Lee Stempniak
182. Bruno Gervais
205. Joe Pavelski
261. Shane O’Brien
262. Joey Tenute
271. Jaroslav Halak
287. Nick Tarnasky

Lots of sparkly names in there, and again, the closer we get to the present day the harder it gets to tell just who will be a success. A lot of the guys I've pinpointed here were virtual unknowns just a year ago. In some cases, even more recently. (Jaroslav Halak, anyone?)
Steal of the Draft: Jaroslav Halak, 271st Overall

2004 Draft
1. Alex Ovechkin
2. Evgeni Malkin
4. Andrew Ladd
13. Drew Stafford
15. Alexander Radulov
20. Travis Zajac
21. Wojtek Wolski
23. Andrej Meszaros
27. Jeff Schultz
29. Mike Green
33. Chris Bourque

97. Johan Franzen
98. Dustin Boyd
227. Chris Campoli
238. Yutaka Fukufuji
262. Mark Streit

It seems hard to believe it was only three years ago that we drafted a smiling Russian kid who would go on to break records and hearts all over the place. But Ovie wasn't the only draftee - the potential future of the Capitals blueline rests in the hands of Jeff Schultz and Mike Green, while Chris Bourque's recent improvements are leading to murmurs of a place in the NHL within the next few years. As for the rest? Well, I guess there was this other Russian kid taken 2nd...but no one cares about him, I promise.
Steal of the Draft: Mark Streit, 262nd Overall (this is a purely biased choice because he's a Hab and I know very little about the other late draftees)

2005 Draft
1. Sidney Crosby
3. Jack Johnson
5. Carey Price
6. Gilbert Brule
11. Anze Kopitar
14. Sasha Pokoluk
44. Paul Stastny
45. Guillaume Latendresse

Pfft. This one so doesn't matter. Sidney who? Next.
Steal of the Draft: Unknown

2006 Draft
1. Erik Johnson
2. Jordan Staal
3. Jonathan Toews
4. Niklas Backstrom
5. Phil Kessel

So recent these guys still have the price tags on them, and only two of the top five have even dressed in the NHL. My money's on that Niklas guy, he could turn into something someday...
Steal of the Draft: Unknown

And that takes us up to today - hope to see a lot of smiling faces at KCI later tonight, but if you can't make it tune into Comcast SportsNet for (*gasp*) coverage of the Caps' uniform unveiling and other events. And if you are among the handful with access to Versus you can see what will probably be purloined TSN coverage tonight and you know it will be at least halfway decent.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

What's Red and White and Blue All Over?

Photo courtesy of the Washington Post

Tap of the stick to Billy for the tip...


Draft Madness: Detour #2

I'll have more on draft history later tonight (I know - yippee, right??) but first a few tidbits:

- Tomorrow is, of course, the Caps' draft day party and the potentially anti-climactic uniform unveiling. I'll be there with some of my fellow bloggers to bring it to you live...okay, maybe not live, but pretty darn close. Should be a good time and I hope to see a good crowd there.

- After the draft party, feel free to join some of us for an informal get-together at Bailey's, regardless of whether you attended the official party or not! I'll try to think of a way to make our little group stick out among the usual Friday night bar crowd, so check back here sometime tomorrow for more details...

- Speaking of attending the draft party, if anyone has two extra tickets they're not using, please e-mail me ASAP. I know of one person who is looking for tickets to this sold out event and we don't want unused tickets to go to waste, now do we?

- Quick head count - who is going tomorrow night? Drop a comment!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Draft Madness: The Detour

In keeping with my historical attempts to deflect the fact that I know nothing about this year's draft, I stumbled upon and found something (gasp!) passing for hockey coverage - a list of the best and worst picks in NHL history, active and all time. I doubt anyone will be surprised to see that the Caps appear on this list and not in a good way...and if you are surprised, must be new around here. Welcome to DC.

Here is what they call one of the five worst value picks of all time:

• Alexandre Volchkov, RW, Washington, 1996, (fourth overall): The 1996 draft wasn't a great one, but as it turned out, there were better choices than Volchkov. The Capitals could have gone after "too-small" center Daniel Briere, who was selected by Phoenix with the 24th pick. Volchkov played three NHL games before returning to Russia to finish his professional career.

I'm not going to question the total bust that was Volchkov's stint here in DC. But come on, was little Danielle really the only example they could have picked out? What about Ruslan Salei? Marco Sturm? Marty Reasoner? Zdeno freaking Chara? Danielle's teammate (for now, at least) and former Cap Dainius Zubrus?

Hey, how about Jaroslav "Yogi" Svejkov-...oh, wait. They did pick him. 1996 was a rough year for the Caps.

If you don't believe me, look who else we picked: Jan Bulis (aw, poor Buli) and a slew of household names - Sergei Zimakov, David Weninger, Shawn McNeil, Justin Davis, Matt Lahey, A.J. Van Bruggen, Mike Anderson, Oleg Orekhovsky, and Chad Cavanagh. For these superstars we passed over Tomas Kaberle, Willie Mitchell, Fernando Pisani and our boy Kiwi, all taken in the 8th round.

The Caps' odd relationship with the 1996 draft class gets better, too:

- Who remembers Alexei Tezikov? Drafted 115th overall by Buffalo who 3 years later pawned him off on us for, get this: Joe Juneau. Next they'll try and sell us the Brooklyn Bridge. Or Jiri Novotny. Oops.

- Josef Boumedienne, our newest, ahem, "Boomer"-ang (these are the jokes, guys)? Drafted 91st overall by the Devils.

- Here's a blast from the past, what about #216, Ivan Ciernik - we picked him up off of waivers from Ottawa, he scored a few goals, and last I heard he was somewhere over in Germany.

- Oh, and let's not forget the man drafted 70th overall, the man for whom the term "Cap-killer" was invented, Jon Sim. How many games against the Flyers, Panthers and Thrashers would the Caps have won with him on the side of good instead of evil? Okay, still probably not that many, but the scores would have been lower.

Incidentally the Caps also have ties with another of the worst picks on ESPN's list, this time among active players (and I'm guessing they're using the term 'active' loosely) - good ol' RRRRico Fata himself, taken 6th overall in 1998. Poor Suavé.

I won't go into the 1998 draft in too much depth because it has to be hands-down one of the worst drafts in Caps history. Forget the fact that Washington didn't pick until the 49th spot when they chose Jomar Cruz (Jo-who? Exactly.) Let's just say that only three of the Caps illustrious selections even dressed in a game for Washington, and that's about all they did. Dress.

Boy, Caps history is sprinkled with fun, isn't it?


Draft Madness, Part 3

Okay, enough with the new jerseys. I'm going to let sleeping dogs lie and get on with my riveting look at the past ten years of draftees - all leading up to the big event, Friday's NHL Draft live from Columbus, Ohio. I can hardly contain my excitement, I swear.

On with 2001 and 2002:

2001 Draft
1. Ilya Kovalchuk
2. Jason Spezza
4. Stephen Weiss
7. Mike Komisarek
8. Pascal Leclaire
13. Ales Hemsky
Shaone Morrisonn
20. Marcel Goc
21. Colby Armstrong
22. Jiri Novotny
30. Dave Steckel
32. Derek Roy
40. Fedor Tyutin
55. Jason Pomminville
63. Peter Budaj
71. Tomas Plekanic
98. Jordin Tootoo
99. Ray Emery
101. Cory Stillman
127. Christoph Schubert
133. Jussi Markkanen
151. Kevin Bieksa
175. Ryan Clowe
179. Andrew Alberts
192. Jussi Jokinen
193. Brooks Laich
202. Derek Boogaard
214. Cristobal Huet
223. Brandon Bochenski
227. Marek Svatos
232. Martin Gerber
238. Ryan Hollweg
241. Milan Jurcina

This year was chock full of big names...and big muscles, too, with Komisarek, Tootoo, Bieksa, Boogaard and Hollweg all getting drafted. Lots of goalies, lots of Caps property (5, at least for now), and everyone's favorite benchwarmer Martin Gerber. And of course, primadonna extraordinaire Kovalchuk grabbing the number one spot away from smiley boy Spezza. Life's just not fair...
Steal of the Draft: 3-way tie – Cristobal Huet, 214th Overall; Marek Svatos, 227th Overall, Milan Jurcina, 241st Overall

2002 Draft
1. Rick Nash
2. Kari Lehtonen
3. Jay Bouwmeester
4. Joni Pitkanen
5. Ryan Whitney
6. Scott Upshall
7. Joffrey Lupul
12. Steve Eminger
13. Alexander Semin
14. Chris Higgins
16. Jakub Klepis
17. Boyd Gordon
20. Daniel Paille
21. Anton Babchuk
23. Ben Eager
24. Alex Steen
25. Cam Ward
29. Hannu Toivonen
36. Jarret Stoll
44. Matt Greene
57. Matt Stajan
58. Jiri Hudler
63. Tomas Fleischmann
69. Erik Christensen
*90. Matthew Lombardi
95. Valtteri Filppula
117. Cam Janssen
240. Petr Prucha

The return of Matthew Lombardi sees him going earlier than his first go-round, snapped up at 90th and still a bargain. Five years later we're now at the point when these guys are starting to hit big if they haven't already, and we're only just starting to see what some of them can really do - Ben Eager, Erik Christensen, Chris Higgins, and our own quintet of talented players, all the future of the NHL. As for #117, let's hope he's not in that equation. For those of you wondering, yes, the Caps hold the dubious distinction of giving him his first (and possibly last) career NHL goal. Yay us.
Steal of the Draft: Petr Prucha, 240th Overall

Next up: 2003 and 2004...


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who the Hell Knows

Okay, the speculation is killing me - I've read as much as I can about the so-called leaked jersey. I've trolled the message boards. I've seen the pictures. And I wasn't going to say anything because honestly who knows, right?

Enter the following video clip, something that I think is the closest thing to actual proof, courtesy of a commenter on Tarik's blog known merely as Shmoo. I know, consider the source, but come on - this is pretty good:
Nekkid Man Alert**
(and video clip alert - just scroll down to find the tiny link that says caps.avi)

It's even more suspicious that the first part of this clip which once graced the Caps home page is mysteriously gone now that a "glitch" has allegedly been discovered. And if someone did fake this, give them major credit - it's pretty flawless for a hoax.

The verdict? Take it with a grain of salt, but I think there is a good chance the cat is out of the bag...

The real question is this: If this turns out to be the
new jersey, will you buy one? Something to ponder.

**Update: The video I referred to has apparently been removed because it didn't comply with the terms of service. I'm guessing if you want to see it, just wait until Friday - it'll probably be back up on the website...


Useless Caps Trivia

Just a quick note - a while back someone asked what the names of the parking lots were back at the old Caps Centre and I was stumped. Well, helpful commenter Caroline provides the answer: liberty, stars and stripes, capital and eagle. Sounds right to me, but I put the question to my faithful readers for confirmation.

Incidentally she also poses a new query: Where did the Caps practice before moving to Piney Orchard?

Now that's going to bug me for a while, so hopefully someone knows the answer. Anyone know? Toss it in the comments...

Completely random thought, but did anyone else see this Frozen Moment today?

Poor that's a scary picture for a lot of reasons, not the least of which includes the creepy "I'm going to hypnotize you and steal your money" expression on his face.


Draft Madness, Part 2

We continue our look at the last ten years of draftees with 1999 and 2000:

1999 Draft
1. Patrik Stefan
2. Daniel Sedin
3. Henrik Sedin
5. Tim Connolly
7. Kris Beech
8. Taylor Pyatt
26. Martin Havlat
40. Alex Auld
42. Mike Commodore
44. Jordan Leopold
76. Frantisek Kaberle
91. Mike Comrie
94. Chris Kelly
115. Ryan Malone
138. Ryan Miller
213. Alexandre Giroux
217. Garnet Exelby
222. George Parros

It's fascinating to look back on this draft class after the most recent season and postseason, for a few reasons. One, you wonder at Patrick Stefan (he of the botched empty net play fame) going above the Sedin twins after their stupendous regular season and playoff performances. And two, a name like Chris Kelly that maybe wasn't known before this season is suddenly a little more familiar with Ottawa's recent Cup quest. On the Caps front, you have our own little boomerang, Kris Beech, and Alexandre Giroux, who has shown flashes of brilliances but may end up being a career AHLer like...well, like Kris Beech, sadly.
Steal of the Draft: Ryan Miller, 138th Overall (It's not like I was going to say Exelby...please.)

2000 Draft
1. Rick DiPietro
2. Dany Heatley
3. Marian Gaborik
4. Rostislav Klesla
5. Raffi Torres
6. Scott Hartnell
16. Marcel Hossa
18. Brooks Orpik
21. Anton Volchenkov
26. Brian Sutherby
28. Justin Williams
43. Matt Pettinger
44. Ilja Bryzgalov
46. Jarret Stoll
62. Paul Martin
68. Joel Lundqvist
97. Niclas Wallin
124. Michel Ouellet
159. John-Michael Liles
205. Henrik Lundqvist
215. Matthew Lombardi*
220. Paul Gaustad

An interesting draft, with the Lundqvist twins, Dany Heatley, and our boys Sutherby and Pettinger, but no pick is more fascinating than the number one selection of goalie, banana cream pie lover, and general dreamboat (sorry, but come on) Rick DiPietro. The Islanders raised some eyebrows making him their first pick and what do you know, they continue to raise eyebrows with him to this day. One thing is for sure - looks like Ricky's got this team wrapped around his little finger.
Steal of the Draft: Henrik Lundqvist, 205th Overall; I would say Matthew Lombardi, but as you'll see tomorrow, his story does not end with the 2000 draft.

Next up: 2001 and 2002...


Monday, June 18, 2007

Draft Madness

The 2007 draft is quickly approaching and in just five days we'll find out who the newest victims Capitals are. So to commemorate this momentous occasion, it's time to take a look at ten years of draft "successes" (and I reserve the right to use that term loosely).

Let's start with 1997 and 1998:

1997 Draft
1. Joe Thornton
2. Patrick Marleau
3. Olli Jokinen
4. Roberto Luongo
5. Eric Brewer
12. Marian Hossa
13. Dan Cleary
23. Scott Hannan
27. Ben Clymer
47. Kristian Huselius
48. Henrik Tallinder
69. Maxim Afinogenov
78. Ville Nieminen
83. Joe Corvo
84. Adam Mair
161. David Aebischer
164. Todd Fedoruk
175. Johan Holmqvist
177. Ladislav Nagy
208. Andrew Ference
215. Scott Clemmensen
229. Karel Rachunek

With Thornton, Marleau and Hannan, this was a good year for the San Jose Sharks. Throw in Tallinder, Afinogenov and Mair, it wasn't bad for Buffalo. But come on, Caps fans - we know who the real success story of the 1997 draft class was...our very own Ben Clymer!
Steal of the Draft: Andrew Ference, 208th Overall

1998 Draft
1. Vincent Lecavalier
2. David Legwand
3. Brad Stuart
4. Bryan Allen
5. Vitali Vishnevsky
6. Rico Fata
12. Alex Tanguay
18. Dmitri Kalinin
19. Robyn Regehr
21. Mathieu Biron
22. Simon Gagne
27. Scott Gomez
29. Jonathan Cheechoo
32. Stephen Peat
39. John Erskine

44. Mike Fisher
64. Brad Richards
71. Erik Cole
72. Dmitry Afanasenkov
75. Francois Beauchemin
82. Brian Gionta
87. Alexei Ponikarovsky
91. Josef Vasicek
117. Jaroslav Spacek
135. Andrew Raycroft
150. Trent Hunter
161. Chris Neil
162. Andrei Markov
164. Ales Kotalik
168. Antero Niitymaki
171. Pavel Datsyuk
216. Michael Ryder
230. Karlis Skrastins

This was a huge year for the Southeast Division. Of the 33 players I've singled out, 11 of them were drafted by and/or have played for one of the illustrious teams below the Mason-Dixon Line. For the Caps, that includes my boy RRRRRico Fata, fan favorite Stephen Peat, professional traffic cone Mathieu Biron, and the only remnant of the draft here in DC, John "Caveman" Erskine.
Steal of the Draft: Michael Ryder, 216th Overall

Next up: 1999 and 2000...


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Taking Over the World, One Widget at a Time

If you'll turn your attention to the sidebar on your right, you'll see two new additions - one is the lovely uniform widget provided by (actually, I guess its now - confusing) showcasing the uniform through the ages. We're counting down to the return of the red, white and blue this Friday with a retrospective of how the Caps' look has changed since the franchise's inception. Breathtaking, isn't it?

Incidentally as I write this it is displaying Larry Murphy...and to that I say "woop woop woop!" Ah, Lar. Good to see you.

The other is the list of pro-Caps posts provided by our playoff pool participants, to be updated as they trickle in. Feel free to surf through the list and see just how our team is perceived around the league by a group of people who can only be described as certifiable, myself included. Should be interesting.

My post to come...


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Miss Me?

I've returned, back on solid ground once more - a little poorer, a little more sunburned, but no worse for wear and ready to resume the duties of the beleagured Caps blogger/fanatic. Now that real life has reared its ugly head once more I guess I'll start off with the results of the First Annual Blogger Playoff Pool, only because people seem to be anxiously awaiting them. Amazing what happens when hockey season ends, isn't it? We become starved for anything new-ish!

So without further ado, all the way from Washington, DC, the fan whose bleatings keep us all informed...

(By the way, I wish I could say I had rigged this thing to have a Caps fan win, but I swear I'm really not that smart. Ask anyone who knows me.)

You know what that means, kids...all my fellow bloggers who willingly signed on to this crazy escapade, get those keyboards warmed up and start singing the praises of everyone's favorite underdogs, the Washington Capitals! For you Caps bloggers, this should be no problem, but I can already hear the plaintive cries of agony from some of our participants. Rest assured there will be no getting around this one, as I expect to see posts from every single one of you or else...well, I can't really do anything about it. I guess the honor system will have to do.

For those of you who are curious, the final standings can be found here: Playoff Pool Results

To everyone who participated, thank you for making this such a success - it was a lot of fun and hopefully we can do it all over again next year, bigger and better!

I refuse to talk about Sidney Crosby winning anything shiny so for now I'm just going to leave you all with some images from my trip...if only to prove that I really was out of town and not just slacking off.
Oh and, you know, to make you all jealous. Enjoy!

My brother-in-law's forehead...which I'm sure he'll love seeing here :)

Beautiful Virginia, as seen from the window of a car...pretty, huh?

The drive to Norfolk takes you past some of the most historic parts of the country...and because I'm a dork, I had to capture the moment.

Ah, the beach. Beautiful. (Jealous yet?)

Ah, a delicious frosty drink with some sort of liquor concoction in it. Beautiful. (Jealous yet?)

A reenactment in St. George, Bermuda shows what used to happen to gossipy women - they got dunked. Literally. All I can say is, thank god I was born in this era!

Bermuda. I guess it's kind of pretty, if you like that kind of thing...

But it's good to be home. *Sigh*

I guess.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

No Sweet Repeat

14,285 fans are screaming at the top of their lungs tonight in Copps Coliseum, home of the Hamilton Bulldogs - your 2007 Calder Cup Champions.

So one final time, altogether now: B-E-A-R-S Bears Bears Bears...woo.

This just isn't my year.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lord Stanley Loves to Surf

There is beauty and brilliance in this ending no matter what team you root for.

There is, first, the traditional handshake that shows the respect and admiration shared by these two teams, some would say the greatest tradition in all of sports...fitting as its done in celebration of the greatest trophy in all of sports...

Then Scott Niedermeyer lifting the Conn Smythe trophy, a surprising choice perhaps but no less deserving of the honor, his salt and pepper beard covering up the many wounds of battle...

The Stanley Cup being carried out by its keepers, white gloves protecting it for these last few seconds before all bets are off, the lights of the arena and the flashbulbs of the crowd bouncing off its silver surface...

But the image I will take away with me is the picture of Teemu Selanne, face bathed in tears, lifting the Cup for the very first time and then being so overcome by emotion that he is unable to speak. It is for him, like so many others in recent years, the culmination of a quest that has taken far too long. His joy and emotion are written on his tear-stained face, speaking louder than any words he could say. Congrats, Teemu - the prize is finally yours and well-deserved, to be sure.

This was, to put it simply, the Ducks' Cup to win. The Senators were arguably the best team in the playoffs through the first three rounds...but this Anaheim team would take over from there, taking the Sens off their game and dominating to the very end. Anyone who watched this series knows that there was no other finale possible, no other way the playoffs could conclude.

And so they do conclude.

I really have nothing more to say other than to congratulate the Ducks and their fans on their new title as the Stanley Cup Champions. Enjoy it, revel in it, capture it in your hearts and minds - but most of all remember what it took to get there.

Because no victory is sweeter than the one that takes a piece of your soul to achieve. Just something to keep in mind, my fellow Washingtonians...

So on that (extremely cheesy) note, I bid you all a temporary adieu - vacation beckons and I'll be leaving the muggy streets of DC for sandy beaches, the chill of the hockey arena for the heat of the island. When I get back there will be much to discuss, though, starting with the big winner in our Blogger Playoff Pool, to be revealed upon my return. Immediately following that we have the Caps' Draft Day Party on June 22nd, for those of us poor folks unable to make the trek to Columbus. New jerseys, new players, same old crowd of crazy Caps faithful - and I'll have pictures to prove it.

Until then, enjoy your hockey hiatus...oh, and someone please brainstorm ways to kill time this summer for me. I really hate the offseason.


Greenie Speaks

We have a few minutes before the puck drops in Hamilton - check out what Mike Green had to say in his chat on

No one asked him about his hair? Really? I guess no one gets a cookie then...still a good read, though.


Hello, Mojo?

Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals takes place in Anaheim tonight, with the Ducks looking to take care of business on home ice and capture their first Cup in franchise history.

Whether or not the Senators live to fight another day, tonight's game marks the beginning of the end - the first official potential elimination game of the last series of the 2006-07 postseason...say that ten times fast.

As we stand on the cusp of a long, hot summer with nary a hockey puck or glove save in sight, I've been reflecting on the fact that somehow my rants have become less frenzied, less maniacal, less frequent since the season ended.

It's not that there hasn't been plenty to write about - Chris Pronger's twin suspensions for attempted beheadings; Buffalo's fantastically wonderful crash and burn; Dominik Hasek's complete lack of a spinal cord; and much, much more. Lack of discussion topics has never been a problem.

I think, in fact, that I've pinpointed the's the Caps' fault.

Really. Here's my thought process:

Last season ('05-'06) the Caps were supposed to stink. They were supposed to achieve nothing, and for the most part they lived up to that underwhelming goal, which is fine; a young team, rebuilding after a lockout, there was no reason for them to be good. But then the last part of the season kicked in and they were doing a strange and wonderful thing - they were winning. They were playing well. They made us all excited and suddenly despite their absence in the postseason, it flew by. I couldn't wait until the season started up again because I knew they were only going to build on that success.


Fast-forward to this season. The Caps get off to a good start and kick it into high gear in December...then proceed to crumble thanks to injuries and youth and lack of depth and whatever else you want to point to. They slide down the standings until they are fighting for a top 5 draft pick. Mission accomplished. So for me and really for all Caps fans, the season has been over for a looooong time - our new horizon becoming this summer, particularly July 1. Ever notice how a date can seem so far away when you're waiting for it? Case in point, this postseason.

So basically I have nothing of substance to babble about because my eyes are glued on July 1, waiting for the moment that I'll hear we've signed Alexei Yashin to some ridiculously long and expensive contract. Good times.

On a semi-related note, my lack of babbling mojo apparently does not extend to talking online during games - a fact that is clearly spelled out here...or for a slightly older, more manic and completely obscenity-filled, R-rated version, here.

I love that I sound like an idiot and people post it for everyone to see...thanks, guys. Thanks. Really. Expect me to return the favor very, very soon.

(And please don't point out the fact that I just posted it for more people to see...I'm aware.)


Monday, June 04, 2007

Drop the Puck, Feel the Love

Everyone ready for the puck to drop? 30 minutes and counting...


All Eyes On Ontario

Big hockey night around the leagues tonight, so get those bottles of beer cooled, those remotes warmed up, and that computer humming - lots to see!

- First up, the Hershey Bears make their first postseason visit to Hamilton for a game 3 tilt against the Bulldogs. After a flat start by Hershey and a stellar goaltending performance by Carey Price in Game 1, the Bears roared back (sorry, had to do it) to even up the series with a win Saturday night.

Can the boys from Chocolatetown take a 2-1 lead in the wilds of Ontario? Who knows...I can say this, though - I would get comfortable, this series could be a long one. Start time is 7:30 so plan for puck drop about 15 minutes later, probably about the time that Doc Emrick is perfecting his combover for tonight's NHL broadcast. You can catch all the thrilling AHL action online through B2 Networks.

Also, be sure to submit your questions at for our very own fauxhawk king, Mike Green, who steps into the AHL Chat Room tomorrow to face the firing squad. Want to know how AHL playoffs are preparing him for NHL life? Curious about his sudden scoring prowess? Dying to know just what hair products he uses? Send those inquiries along and see what he says!

(If someone actually does submit that hair product question and it gets picked I'll send you a cookie...)

- And then, the main event...a reinvigorated Ottawa team takes on a Pronger-less Ducks squad as they attempt to tie the series at two. We've had two really good, evenly played games and one 1-0 slaughter by the Ducks, so it's a toss-up what kind of a game we'll see tonight.

Here's a few things we'll definitely see, though:

- Eddie Olczyk will call at least two penalty calls "bad calls" and scoff about them long after the penalty is expired
- Chris Neil will yap at someone and try and get them to drop the gloves before the puck is even dropped
- J.S. Giguere will drink out of a straw...hey, at least he's graduated from the sippy cup
- Chris Pronger will be in the press box - I'm guessing he'll be heavily sedated to prevent him from trying to decapitate any of the media; luckily there are only two or three of them, so they'll be able to keep some empty chairs between them
- Jason Spezza will make a beautiful play then promptly turn over the puck, à la Alexander Semin
- Ryan Getzlaf will say a bad word right when the camera has his face in close up
- Bryan Murray will stand behind the bench, arms crossed, glowering at something - whether he's happy or not
- At least five crazy Sens fans dressed as Roman warriors will appear on camera throughout the night
- Arnold Schwarzenegger will not drop the puck to start the game. Thank god.

Playoff action hot and heavy all over the place? Can you feel the excitement? CAN YOU?

...meh. Sort of.

- Just a quick note about the Blogger Playoff Pool - I've got one poor sucker's Caps post (pending final approval) but am still awaiting the other two.

You know who you are,'s best just to get it over with, do it quickly and painfully, like ripping off a band-aid. And pouring acid over it. Then throwing on a Caps jersey.

See? Not so bad! :)