Two games in the District today, back-to-back, separated by four stops on the Green Line.
Navy Yard Metro
4:05 p.m. Washington Nationals (2-0) vs. Miami Marlins (0-2)
Jordan Zimmerman vs. Wade LaBlanc
The Nats go for the sweep over the Marlins before a big series against the Reds in Cincinnati. That is going to be a real test. I hope the Nats take care of business tonight, especially since Wisconsin native Zimmermann is on the mound. I’m fearing the reverse lock.
I’ll be listening at work via MLB Audio (well worth the $20 annually) and my car radio (106.7 WJFK-FM/1500 WFED-AM). Telecast is on MASN2.
7:05 p.m. Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Braden Holtby vs. Evgeni Nabokov
I haven’t blogged much about the Caps this season, partly because I’m mad at Ted Leonsis for the lockout, partly because my blogging has been inconsistent overall. I’m still pulling for them, they just tend to lose when I watch them so I’ve been superstitious. Telecast is on CSN Washington.
Someday, I need to do a Nats/Caps doubleheader in person. Not sure how fun being a Green Line commuter today is going to be though.
Since I not expecting the NHL season to start on-time, I never did print out a Washington Capitals schedule and put it up in my cube, so I don’t know how many games have been lost by the latest lockout. I miss watching the Caps a few nights of the week and the hockey talk that we have had in my office. Until this year, there was more hockey talk than any other sport which is a bit surprising. I’ve always enjoyed having the regular seasons of baseball and hockey on the opposite ends of each other — they flow in nicely. When they have a season.
In terms of blame, I’m putting it on the NHL owners and commissioner Gary Bettman. This is the third lockout in less than 20 years, second in the last 8. The owners seem to want the players to take another salary rollback because owners can’t discipline themselves to stop spending so much, despite growing revenues. The NHL players already agreed to a 24% rollback after the 2004-2005 season was lost. Nothing but bad faith from NHL ownership, many of whom play in publicly financed arenas.
I’m including Caps owner Ted Leonsis as part of the blame. This is the second lockout of his Caps ownership tenure; third if you include the Washington Wizards of the NBA, which had a lockout last season. If owners like Leonsis don’t want to pay players they ought to sell their teams. I am disinclined from going to any Caps games or buy any merchandise during the season after the lockout ends. I’ll just watch the games on TV. I don’t want to directly reward bad behavior with my money. Furthermore, I think I’ll skip going to a Wizards game. I have tried to go to at least one game of the local pro teams (Nationals, Caps, Redskins, Wizards, DC United) but if he doesn’t mind not having games, I don’t mind not going to the arena he owns or buying team merchandise for me or my family when they return. That’s a drop in the bucket of course, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
MEANWHILE IN THE BOROUGH OF CHURCHES
Looks like the New York Islanders are giving up suburbia for the urbanized part of Long Island known as Brooklyn (The Times). Can’t say I’m surprised. I have not followed the Isles efforts to get a 21st century arena in Nassau County closely, but it seems like they tried. I figured when the Brooklyn arena was announced for the former New Jersey Nets that it would be a fallback option for the Islanders. Probably a gut punch for the season ticket holders on Long Island, but for the causal fan, not so much. They still get the Islanders on TV and can at least get out on weekends to Brooklyn and its transit accessible location. They have a bigger gripe than say, the Maryland Caps fans (who started the damn “O” during the national anthem at Caps games) who whined when the Caps left Landover for D.C. proper.
I could take or leave the Hurricanes, but otherwise I think it’s a fantastic move by the NHL. As a selfish Flyers fan, it preserves most everything we want. Great to have the Caps back in the group. Washington is a mid-Atlantic/northeast city, and they belong in that kind of division for hockey. The NBA can keep doing whatever they’re doing, mostly because they’re stupid and irrelevant.
Sam B., The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus:
My thoughts are that I am in favor of it. This new format is similar to the Patrick Division which featured the Pens, Isles, Devils, Rangers, etc. I admit that I was concerned by some of the realignment talk that had the Pens joining the southeast division. I think the Pens have a great rivalry with the Caps, but there is no spark with the hurricanes, panthers or lightning. I am especially delighted with the new playoff format. I think its good for these teams to have rivalries intact and hopefully become even stronger.
1. Geographically, it makes sense, and it does keep a number of traditional rivalries intact. As you stated on the blog, now it evens out the entire La Coupe Hauxer quite nicely, and should all the teams make it into the playoffs, we could sort of change up the format a bit and tie outcomes based on seeding and finish.
2. Oddly enough, this opens up the possibility for expansion in the “C” and “D” Conferences. I’m not sure how scheduling 32 teams over 82 games will work in this capacity (that might beg to expand the schedule a little further, especially since there are some instances where some teams get a week off between games). If that’s the case, if Winnipeg can get the Jets back, who’s to say that the Whalers can’t return to Hartford, and there have been rumors that the league has wanted to move the Houston Aeros up from the AHL for years. It might even get the Balsillie monkey of Bettman’s back.
3. Going back to the rivalries, that was a major concern for a lot of fans when the talk of realignment began this summer. One of the biggest rumors was the entire East was going to be shuffled into something unrecognizable, especially since it included bringing Detroit in. I mean, if you go back to the “Original Six”, yeah, they’re part of the “West”, but that was already thrown out the window after the (now) Jets came in and took the Leafs with them. It really doesn’t make sense to make moves that affect such “traditions”, plus, it’s just weird.
4. Now to the next point: NAMING. I think one of the worst things the league did was abolish the “traditional” division/conference names back in the late ’90s. It’s what set the NHL apart from every other “major” sports league for a long time due to the unique nature of hockey. That needs to be brought back. Sure, geography can be helpful, and it’s more of an American thing, but hockey is clearly NOT an American thing, at least at its roots.
Adam P., Hurricanes season ticket holder and Western Pennsylvania expatriot:
I’m actually excited about having the return to the divisional playoff format under the new alignment. The Southeast Division never had any real rivalries because 1) the division was never good enough to get multiple teams into the playoffs often. Southeast teams never faced each other in the playoffs. 2) The Caps were more often than not focused on their old divisional rivals. So the opportunity for the Canes to have real division rivals is great. Unfortunately, the concern of many down here is that the team will not be able to compete with the bigger market and highly competitive teams within the new division. The hope is that this will serve as a wake up call to management in the style of player an money given to a player to be competitive and make the playoffs.
I grew up with the Patrick Division so this is almost like being a kid again. In the divisional format, you really learn to hate a team…not just hate a team but HATE a team. I think it will be good for the newer Canes fans to experience it. It’s a shame that feeling never developed within the old division.
Some dissent to realignment from Long Islander Devon Edwards of Onward State
I’m not old enough to remember the Islanders as anything but an Atlantic Division team, so the historical basis has zero appeal and the opportunity to be playing the Hurricanes and Capitals more isn’t particularly exciting, either. But really, the big concern is with the playoff structure. For a team that’ll be on the bubble, it’s harder to break through with the established contenders in our divisions. It’s easier to contend for an 8-seed now than it will be to fight for a 4-seed in the future. I don’t think the league or playoff structures were broken, and so I’m apprehensive about a unnecessary massive overhaul. Especially one that only serves to diminish the Islanders shot at contention in the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get commentary from the Devils fan I know, so I had to go with this:
I don’t know any Rangers or Islanders fans, so no comments from them.
A realignment of the NHL has been adopted and as a result, the Capitals will be grouped with their old Patrick Division rivals and the Southeast Division will go into the dustbin of history. The league will be split into 4 conferences (not divisions?) and the Caps will be in “CONFERENCE D” which will be renamed. Ideally, it would be the Patrick Conference, but that would make too much sense in Gary Bettman’s NHL. Still, there is much to rejoice about, namely the end of the Southeast division. Here is how the new setup looks:
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
This makes so much more sense than the current southeast division. Northeast corridor cities D.C., New York and Philadelphia are rivals in and out of sports and have been for centuries. Nothing was going to make Washingtonians feel that Tampa Bay, South Florida and Atlanta ( the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg which started this process) were peer cities. Raleigh, where the Hurricanes play, isn’t either, but at least it is close and not too far off of I-95.
Here is how the playoffs are going to work:
As a result of the new four-conference alignment, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will follow a different format as well.
The top four teams in each Conference will qualify for the playoffs. The first-place team in each conference would play the fourth-place team in the same conference; the second-place team would play the third-place team.
The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.
While this realignment will probably mean the Caps don’t finish first as often, the tougher schedule will force them to raise their game to be competitive.
By the way, the Caps ought to get back to winning and you know, goaltending one of these days:
At least they came back from 5-1 down, I guess. Hard to believe the Florida Panthers are in first place in the Southeast.
Saturday, Larry King threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves game (Nationals Enquirer). When I heard he was going to, it reminded me of one of the first Washington Capitals games I went to back in the early 1990s. It may have been the March 15, 1991 game against the New York Islanders. My mom used to get company tickets once a year it seemed and we usually went in March. During one intermission, King, whose shows was based on Rosslyn back then, was on the ice with D.B. Sweeney from The Cutting Edge, who was goaltending. King was to take shots on goal from several parts of the ice, starting at the red line. I don’t recall specifics, but King was an emaciated stick figure, seemingly about as wide as the hockey stick he was holding. If I recall correctly, he didn’t get a single shot on goal Sweeney had nothing to do.
I’ve been bugging Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog off and on for years to see what he can dig up in The Post archives about this event — there may not anything there, but maybe others can recall this event.
Anyway, King brought good luck to the Nats, as they played really well through a few rain delays and beat the Braves 6-3. I listened to the first few innings, staying in the car to hear the first run before heading to a get together, on the radio. It was great hearing Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler again! The video highlights on nationals.com are worth checking out but really, make them embeddable already MLB!
On the way back, I caught the final two periods of the Caps vs. Sabres game. It sounded like a great hockey game and Steve Kolbe is finally starting to grow on me. The highlights are below:
Oh and I know how I am going to greet my co-worker who is a Sabres fan tomorrow morning: