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Posted at 1:23 PM ET, 11/23/2010

Capitals must pick up their socks

By Dan Steinberg

(By Bruce Bennett - Getty)

I think Bruce Boudreau put it best, when he was asked about the Caps' unsightly Monday night loss:

"We all have to pick up our socks and find out what's gone wrong in these last three games," he said. "You go 8-0-1 and then you go for a crap. It happens, but it hasn't happened to us, so I don't like it."

Now, clearly there are two interesting parts of that quote. I'll focus on the non-scatological part, since the "crap" part seems sort of self-explanatory.

We have to pick up our socks? That was a new one to me.

If you run a Nexis search for picking up socks, you get a whole lot of results about parents attempting to discipline their children. My daughter already flings socks all over her room (she takes them off while she's sleeping), so I sort of understand that angle. But from a sports perspective? Does it mean pick up as in "straighten" or pick up as in "yank up?" I'm still not sure.

"It's actually "pull up" your socks. It's a generic (non-sports) euphemism for getting your s*** together," TSN's Bob McKenzie explained, when I asked on Twitter.

Maybe yes, maybe no. But it turns out hockey people have been using "pick up your socks" for decades, while virtually no one else from any other sport has used the phrase, at least in print. Michelle Obama talks about her husband forgetting to pick up his socks, and Eric Mangini talks about breaking into coaching by literally picking up locker-room socks, but from a strategy standpoint, it's only hockey.

Am I the only one who's going to read all this? Probably. But it's almost Thanksgiving, and no one's on the Internet, and I was curious.

Dennis Maruk, 1979: "Gary Inness made so many big saves in the first period that we figured, hey, he's working his butt off in the nets for us, let's pick up our socks and do something for him."

Mike Kaszycki, 1980: "Now that Guy [Charron] is gone, there is pressure on everybody. We all have to pick up our socks and give a bit extra. I think I can do it if I set my mind to it."

Craig Patrick, 1981: "The way the team's been playing,' the type of attitude they've had, they know they'll just have to pick up their socks a little more.''

Bob McCammon, 1983: ''Anytime you win eight straight games on the road, you've got to be proud of your accomplishment. Nothing lasts forever. We just have to pick up our socks and go from here.''

John Chabot, 1986: "'We knew someone had to pick up the slack,'' said Chabot. ''Our line, actually the whole team, has had a couple tough games. We decided we had to pick up our socks."

Kevin Hatcher, 1987: "That was disappointing, losing an all-star defenseman like Rod [Langway]. Anytime that happens, the other five have to pick up their socks."

London Byers, 1991: "We all just have to pick up our socks and play better."

Ted Green, 1992: "We're certainly going to have to pick up our socks. Or else it's going to be a very short series."

Terry Crisp, 1994: "We were embarrassed and humiliated. We had to pick up our socks, which is what we did."

Bill Berg, 1997: "What we have to do is pick up our socks and get on with it Saturday afternoon against Hartford. There's nothing much we can do about this now, and a veteran team should be able to put this behind them."

Garry Galley, 1997: "When Pat went down we said, 'We've just got to pick up our socks here. We're at home, in a new building, and we've got to be accountable.' "

Eric Lindros, 1999: "We can't sit back and wait for the play to come to us and think we're going to be able to pick up our socks when we're down 5-2 and try to make a game of it. That's a big hill to climb."

Theo Fleury, 1999: "These type of games, it's one break here and there. We've had a lot of breaks go our way. The other night (against St. Louis), they got one and they capitalized. We'd have liked to have got a better result, but that's the way it goes. We've got San Jose coming in, another team as desperate as us, so we're going to have to pick up our socks again.''

Eric Lindros, 2000: "We got to pick up our socks. We did not perform well. This is a reality check."

Ron Wilson, 2003: "The way they scored their first goal, I don't know. It just kind of sucked the air out of our balloon. We seemed to lose our focus for a minute, and the next thing you know, it's 2-2. We've just got to pick up our socks and get ready to play."

Willie Mitchell, 2004: "You couldn't ask for anything more. Roli's been phenomenal. He's been there to cover up a lot of mistakes and maybe been overlooked because of his record. We have to pick up our socks and help these guys."

John Paddock, 2007: "[Nick] Foligno, we liked him last year and how he played. I think he has got to pick up his socks from how he has played so far. I mean, I don't think he has done anything, you know, compared to last year."

Brent Johnson, 2008: "I felt really good tonight, but we had efforts from every guy. It could have gone either way tonight and we had guys pick up their socks and score a goal there."

Corey Perry, 2009: "When they scored that fourth one, we had to kind of pick up our socks and get back at it," Perry said. "We had given up four unanswered at that point. We talked at a timeout. We said, 'Lets go play our forechecking game and create some turnovers.' We did that, got some shots and got some goals."

Stephen Weiss, 2009: "There's no more excuses. We're through with saying we're tired. Lets pick up the socks and get two points."

Corey Perry, 2009 again: "We haven't played a full 60 minutes of hockey in a complete night, and that's what we need to do. We need to go out there and do that. Let everything else take care of itself. Teams are winning around the league. They're starting to creep away so we've got to pick up our socks and get back in that win column."

Paul Holmgren, 2010: "Jeff [Carter's] a tough kid, when he's able to come back and play, he will. Other guys have to pick up their socks a little bit."

Don Maloney, 2010: "We still have to pick up our socks. You lose two games and you feel like the world is going to end. It's interesting, that's for sure."

(Guessing it's a Canadian thing, since the country's freestyle ski coach once said that "The Chinese have raised the bar and we have to definitely pick up our socks to keep pace." I also found a Canadian teacher and a Canadian softball coach and a Canadian Little League coach using the phrase, while a Winnipeg newspaper headline once proclaimed that the Canadian hockey "gals must pick up their socks.")

By Dan Steinberg  | November 23, 2010; 1:23 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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A new low(high?)

Posted by: Bagher | November 23, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Dan, you really have developed the Seinfeld of internet commentary. A blog about nothing. Yet always entertaining.

Posted by: CalleJoFan | November 23, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

This team is playing like crap and a good thing Boudreau is saying it before he is the scapegoat and fired.

Here's the problem, before the Caps started to win 3 years ago there were about 4,000 true blue/white Caps fans. Now there are 20,000 Caps fans and most don't know offsides from illegal procedure so the problem is they have a very fragile fanbase that are 16,000 stronger because the want to Rock The Red. It is fun when they win but how fun will it be to Rock The Dead when the crowd hovers around 7 to 8,000 like 4 years ago.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | November 23, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

The saying is "Drop your co#@s and grab your socks" Bruce.

Posted by: | November 23, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse


I love how every time some "true" Caps fan talks about all the newbies who are, heaven forbid, excited about having a good team, the example used is that they don't know what offsides is. As if the offsides rule in hockey is somehow as difficult to learn as rocket science or something.

Posted by: agl132 | November 23, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

One thing is clear, you've really picked up your socks on this blog

Posted by: wp2011 | November 23, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

At first I thought it was because they got their socks knocked off? That sounds sort of familiar as a euphemism for getting your butts kicked. So logically, picking up your socks is the symbolic gesture for recovering.

Posted by: ThisGuy | November 23, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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