Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Possible Ice Sheet Disaster of Mystics Proportions?

We all know how great the Verizon Center ice is, right? You know, the ice that Chris Clark dubbed the worst he'd ever played on, the ice that may or may not have contributed to at least one Olie Kolzig injury, and the ice that sparked an opposing player to ask, "How do you play on this?"

Well, the slop and slush that the Capitals have played on for far too long is about to get some time to sit dormant, chill and set.

Monday night, the Washington Wizards concluded their abysmal season with their final home game against the Toronto Raptors. With no postseason for the Wizards this year, the Capitals will have exclusive use of Verizon Center through April.

That means no changing a b-ball court to an ice rink in one day. If anything, the Verizon Center should be at peak ice conditions by next week for a possible game five, seven, and future playoff bouts if the Caps can stay alive.

Imagine that, an entire month devoted just to hockey and to cultivating a perfect pond for Ovechkin to blaze across. The only hiccup in this dream is when "The Boss" comes to D.C. in May.

On May 18, Bruce Springsteen comes to town. After the 18th, if anyone is going to blame anyone for the ice quality, it's only fitting that someone from New Jersey, a possible late playoff opponent, could be the culprit.

After the Springsteen show, there's a short layoff in Verizon Center usage, and if the Capitals are playing hockey in late May, they may grow accustomed to the better-than-usual ice -- that is until the Washington Mystics start the WNBA season.

The Mystics are scheduled for a preseason game May 28, and a regular season game June 7. Both dates could fall during the Eastern Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals and at critical times in those series.

Great, the Mystics, the team that embarrasses our fair city with "Attendance Championship" banners that were earned by giving out free tickets, could indirectly cause the puck to bounce and bobble in Game Seven and prevent a worthy banner from hanging from the rafters.

We all know how great the Verizon Center's ice is when the Capitals are sharing with Georgetown and the Wizards. Granted it's not basketball's complete fault, but given the fact that the Verizon Center ice still has not improved despite frequent outcries from fans and players, I'm not optimistic.

To be fair, this could all be sour grapes grown from numerous stories of bad ice. In the end, the Mystics may not influence anything at all. But to go from having the Verizon Center exclusively to sharing it with a WNBA team during the most important time of the NHL playoffs is hard to swallow.

We're not trying to start a controversy. We're just stating the obvious. Basketball + Verizon Center + ice hockey = crappy ice.

So does it worry you that if the Capitals were to go deep in the playoffs, ice issues could arise at a critical time in the playoffs because of the Mystics?

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