Wizards Discuss the Caps and the Playoffs
The Rangers and Wizards addressed the media at virtually the same time today, in the same building, separated only by a small hallway. Indeed, the visiting NHL locker room is virtually adjoining to the home NBA locker room. But the only people who hung out with both teams today were a few deranged media types, who ran back and forth that one hallway.
One New York reporter got confused when he rounded a corner and saw five or six reporters with their recorders in Darius Songaila's face. I explained he plays for the Wizards.
"I thought he looked too tall for a hockey player," the reporter said, before heading off toward the ice.
Anyhow, trying to bridge the gap, I asked a few Wizards to describe their level of support for the Capitals. This is the first time since 2003 that the Caps made the postseason and the Wizards didn't, so the basketball players are theoretically free to catch some playoff puck for the first time in many of their careers.
"If I'm here, I'm definitely gonna go," said Songaila, a legitimate hockey fan. "I was here last year; it was lots of fun."
On the other side of the spectrum was Nick Young. I asked what he knew of the Capitals.
"Um, I know they made the playoffs," he said. "They've got an all-star on their team, one of the best players in the game, and he's what, 22, 23?"
And his name is?
"Uh, Olechkin or something like that?" guessed Young, who has never been to a Caps game. His fellow D.C. newcomer, second-year man Dominic McGuire, did a bit better.
"Just Ovechkin," McGuire said, when I asked what he knows. "That's the only reason I watch hockey: Because he's That Dude. He's nice. I like hockey; only when he's playing, though."
Gilbert Arenas, who uses Verizon Center as a second home, did better yet. He was familiar both with the Caps' success and their changing status in D.C.
"I think what they did for the city is great," Arenas said. "I remember peaking out at that arena, there was four or five people in there. Now look at 'em. And that's how it was this year. When you're winning, the fans is gonna come. And right now, they're on top of D.C., and they've got to run with it."
Arenas has met both Ovechkin and his parents, and called him "the MJ of hockey right now." Someone asked whether Gilbert saw Ovie's 50th goal celebration.
"I heard everyone was getting mad about it, that he's celebrating, but I mean it's part of it," Arenas said. "You know, you've got to let people celebrate. Hey, you can't stop him from scoring, don't get mad when he does that when he scores. You don't want him to celebrate, keep him out of that goal."
Caron Butler has been spotted at Redskins and Nationals games in the past, but he pointed to his time constraints when asked if he was following the Caps' latest run.
"Like, I JUST got on vacation the second I walked out that door," he said. "I ain't seen nothing else besides Washington Wizards basketball."
Pity the man. Mike James, fortunately, had found some extra time.
"Yeah, they're balling," James said, when asked about the Caps. "They're in the first round, they're playing against the Rangers, and the Rangers beat them last night, but it should be a good series."
Well done, Mike, well done. I asked whether he might be going to an upcoming game.
"No," he said, "I am not. The weather's nice outside. The snow--I mean, the ice--is about to melt."
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