It seems that I got called out for wondering why the condition of the ice at Verizon Center isn't worthy of a story in one of the local papers. Fair enough, I suppose.
I mean, it's only two players (representing $4.5 million in 2008-09 player salaries) who have gone on record (and how many haven't been as forthcoming?) saying that the poor quality of their home sheet has contributed to their own injuries.
And it's only the team's captain who called that same ice "the worst in the league," and who related stories of opposing players coming to town and querying how the Caps play on such slush.
And it's only the team's owner himself who acknowledged the problem, noting:
"[W]e are working with all parties to improve the quality and consistency [of the ice]. We deserve great ice. We have a great facility. We will do our best to work with building management to make it right."
And it's only the opposition at the most critical time of the year virtually thanking the Verizon Center staff for leveling the playing field, as Daniel Briere noted last April:
"Another thing that favored us was the condition of the ice," he said. "It was so bad that it was tough for guys like Semin, Backstrom and Ovechkin to get anything going, the ice was so bad. That was another thing that went our way."
Now, other than Shaone Morrisonn's recent comments on the role the Verizon Center ice played in his injury, the above quotes are from last season. Has something changed in the interim? Has the ice prep crew gone to school on how best to ready a playable surface in a relatively warm and humid climate? A story on the ice conditions is really all I was asking for, and if the story is "Everything's great," then that's the story - at least it'd help put an end to any questions about it. Frankly, it's almost shocking to see a new media pioneer type the words, "If it was an issue, the media would write something about it."
So I guess I'll continue to ask questions "without facts as a basis" and continue to read fluffy stories about career minor leaguers making it to the show... at least, that is, until it's Alex Ovechkin who catches a rut or Alex Semin who has a playoff series on his stick until the puck bounces on him. Then, perhaps, the ice condition at the Verizon Center will be an issue. Because it's clearly not now.
One final note: asserting that because the team has a great home record, the ice must be good is somewhat faulty logic. In fact, it might be quite the opposite - perhaps familiarity with a poor surface creates the home ice advantage that leads to a 12-1-1 record (I don't, however, believe this to be the case). Regardless, the better team is still the better team whether they're playing on good ice or not, and I don't think anyone would want to claim that it's the ice - and not the players - that has made the Caps such a dominant team at home.