On Caps and Snow
As I listened to school closures on the radio and dutifully shoveled about an inch of snow off my front steps this morning, it occurred to me that this massive winter weather onslaught was, perhaps, a topic worthy of Capital discussion. After all, the current roster has more than a dozen native Canadians, not including Donald Brashear (who was raised in Canada), plus two Russians and a Lithuanian. Surely, they had never seen anything like the one-inch blizzard of '07, I attempted to say with a straight face.
[Caps fans: I realize weather discussions probably weren't exactly what you had in mind when you requested more hockey coverage, but c'mon, 95 percent of my Gilbert Arenas stuff isn't about basketball, either.]
Anyhow, surely, the Caps had never seen anything like the one-inch blizzard of '07, I attempted to say with a straight face.
"This is peanuts," said Saskatchewan native Jamie Heward. "I mean, this was just a snowfall. We get blizzards that shut down major highways and you can't travel for days on end.....You'll get snowdrifts that are 10, 15-feet high going across highways....And the thing is, we never had school closures. I mean, I can't remember maybe two in my life. We just never had it. The schools were close enough that everybody could walk. I mean I remember walking through snowbanks that were four or five feet high where the trucks piled it up. It just was a normal thing."
"This is a beautiful winter day back home," said Brooks Laich, another Saskatchewanite. "The temperature's minus-30, minus-40 degrees, you've got a couple feet of snow, you've got to plow your driveway every morning with a snowplow....I don't know, that's winter."
"This was nothing compared to when I was in Portland, Maine," Shaone Morrisonn said. "My car was buried every day."
"Honestly, our schools canceled when it was minus-24 Celsius, so that's a comparison," said Dainius Zubrus, who grew up in Lithuania.
I wanted to know what minus-24 Celsius would be in Fahrenheit. Fortunately, Zubrus had downloaded an application onto his PDA that converts meters to feet, and Celsius to Fahrenheit, and so on. He couldn't figure out how to enter negative numbers, but he concluded that minus-24 Celsius was probably about minus-10 Fahrenheit, which appears to be accurate.
But the point is, the Caps understand that people here aren't used to the snow, and that the infrastructure isn't quite the same, and that it's wise to be cautious, and that safety is of the utmost importance, etc., but they've sort of seen worse on the winter weather front. "A lot worse," said call-up Frederic Cassivi, who was amazed to see people driving 30 mph on snow-less highways when he came down to D.C. on Tuesday. Steve Eminger was in Portland during a three-day snow and ice disaster that left four-wheel drive trucks stranded in driveways. Heward remembers snow piling up over the top of his back doorway, so that the door couldn't open.
And, all in all, the players were pleased to see a bit of white stuff before they departed for a traditional hockey night in Florida.
"I was excited for it, to tell you the truth," Eminger said. "It kind of feels like Christmas a little bit, because we didn't have any snow throughout December. It does, it feels like the snow days in grade school where you got to stay home. You remember that Simpsons episode?" [I didn't.]
"It's actually nice to see the snow," Laich agreed.
"Every once in a while," Zubrus said. "You know, I have a kid and we'll probably throw him in the snow a little bit, let him fool around with it."
Still, the winter onslaught had some consequences. A bunch of players who live in D.C. didn't want to mess up their rims by driving through the slush and salt, so they made Laich serve as carpool leader today. Laich drove Eminger, Donald Brashear, Brian Sutherby, Ben Clymer and Matt Bradley to practice in his Escalade; Brooks Laich's bus," Eminger called it.
"They criticized me all year long about not having rims on my truck, and then when the time comes if they need a ride, I'm the one that they call," Laich said. "Whatever. So their excuse is they can't drive, so I have to pick 'em up. I told them, I have the number-one rated vehicle on the team now. It's kind of fun to swing around, pick everybody up in the morning and then plow through some snow."
Incidentally, both Laich and Heward mentioned how much snow they had shoveled as kids, so I was kind of curious whether the Saskatchewanites busted out their shovels this morning, like me and my neighbors.
"Nope," Heward said. "There's not enough to warrant a real shovel-out, you know? When it gets to three, four-feet high, then I've got to shovel it out."
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