24 April, 2014

Ice Sheet Capades Continued

Corey on his blog has this grotesquely troubling quote from Flyers’ center Daniel Briere:

“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.”

I’m so sick and tired of hearing and reading about how unprofessionally crappy Verizon Center’s ice is — months and months after it’s been pilloried by players in the press. And even the home team. The purpose of having home ice advantage, it seems to me, is to afford your players an advantage, not aid the slower opponent, undermine the advantages your world-class players possess, or, in a worst-case scenario, actually increase the likelihood of your best skaters incurring injury by skating in slop.
It was mild and muggy in Washington yesterday, and so external conditions made for a modest challenge for the arena’s ice techs. But whereas in February and March it was actually chilly inside Verizon Center for hockey games, yesterday most in the press box were dressed comfortably, in light and loose clothing, for balmy spring. I’d actually seen improvements in the ice in late winter as the building was made colder; passes remained flatter on those nights, for instance, and at times you could see a heavy volume of snow accumulate on the sheet at periods’ end. Not last night. Not when it mattered most.
The Wizards had been off in Cleveland for the better part of a week, a big circus was weeks behind us, and Verizon Center actually replaced its ice sheet just prior to the start of the playoffs. There simply is no excuse whatsoever for there not having been in place merely an adequate surface upon which to contest the most important hockey game for the Caps in perhaps a decade. Instead, world-class skaters Mike Green and Alexander Semin were falling down — often not from contact.
A few hours after Briere offered up his assessment Caps’ GM George McPhee informed local media of his heightened concern about captain Chris Clark’s ongoing groin woes. Woes that he never knew before this season on this sheet of slop. Now we can add Boyd Gordon to the list of the leg-injured (with, like Clark, a torn groin).
We’ve been told that the problem was elaborately studied during the season, and recommendations for improvements made and implemented, only to have one of the few world-class Flyer skaters say playing on the road in game 7 was most inhospitable for the skilled members of the home team. Swell.
Right now I’m far less concerned about restricted and unrestricted free agents getting inked this summer and worrying who’s groin is next to rupture. What good is it having a young and skilled and quick team when at home they can’t move and make plays?


  1. Sombrero Guy wrote:

    Does anyone know how our ice compares to much warmer climates, like Dallas or Tampa?

    23 April, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  2. Rage wrote:

    I’ve heard that Gordo’s injury was a hammy, not a groin. At least that’s what both Masisik and TeB have been reporting on their blogs.

    23 April, 2008 at 5:30 pm | Permalink
  3. usiel wrote:

    I’m trying to remember but wasn’t the biggest recommendation have to do with install either new/bigger dehumidifiers? Honestly I believe we’ll see any capital improvements at VC until Leonsis ‘owns it all’.
    Though I must concur that it definitely plays considering this team has some insane skill that will only get better.

    23 April, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  4. Geo wrote:

    I recall lots of complaints about the Flyers’ ice too. I know the Capital Center/US Air Arena ice was pretty awful too. I just don’t know they can do anything about it as long as they have basketball and hockey teams sharing the same playing service alternately; and of course in warm weather climates. I mean, it’s ilke when football and baseball teams play on the same field.
    Maybe they can build the Capitals a climate controlled, hockey-only arena… some day. :)

    23 April, 2008 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
  5. Ready for next year wrote:

    @ Geo
    I’d have to agree with you. It would probably be much better if the Caps and Wiz didn’t play in the same building.
    Regarding Sombrero Guy’s comment…I’m sure Dallas’ ice isn’t all that great either. If you combine warm weather with the constant surface switching I’m sure it creates quite a mess.
    But maybe they know something we don’t.
    Hopefully as the team improves management will get some incentive to improve the ice.

    23 April, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  6. Mobsky wrote:

    There’s actually a very simple cure. Bring down the heat. Until the arena is colder than most find comfortable, they’ll continue to have sloppy ice.
    This, however, won’t happen because of all the fans who will complain about it being too cold in an ice rink.

    23 April, 2008 at 7:12 pm | Permalink
  7. NS2NOVA wrote:

    As someone previously posted on here in another article, if we have the technology to create near perfect ice conditions outdoors in Florida in August, there is absolutely no excuse for the p*ss poor swamp that our guys are forced to play on, and risk suffering season long injuries.

    23 April, 2008 at 7:25 pm | Permalink
  8. Chris wrote:

    @ NS2NOVA: When has anyone made near perfect ice outdoors in Florida in August? I’m not trying to be a smart-a$$, I’m genuinely curious. . .
    The multiple tenants at the VC are not an excuse. Well over half of the arenas in the league are multipurpose (usually shared with an NBA franchise).
    Likewise, the weather alone is not an excuse. The ice at the VC sucked in the dead of winter and it sucks now. Meanwhile, the St. Pete Times Forum manages to have decent ice.
    In reference to Sombrero Guy: Dallas’ ice used to be horrendous during the playoffs and many surmised that this was on purpose, especially when the Stars played the Avalanche during the Conference Finals in ’99 and ’00. When your defense consists of guys like Hatcher, Matvichuk and Ludwig, you’ve gotta slow down the opposition somehow. The problem is, the Caps are slowing THEMSELVES down.
    I like Ted (even if he has yet to respond to one of my emails), and I think he is generally a smart and proactive owner. If he and GMGM are looking for a smart free agent pickup this summer, why don’t we poach Tampa’s ice management team???

    23 April, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
  9. grapejoos wrote:

    I am wondering about the new building in Dallas too. I only saw a little bit of their first round series but it looked pretty good.
    Surely something can be done, even if it’s lowering the air temp a little. It’s hockey. There’s ice. Ice is cold.

    23 April, 2008 at 9:29 pm | Permalink
  10. Dezlboy wrote:

    ICE – if they can build ski slopes in Dubai, they can freeze ice in DC. Also, the Cap Centre in Largo used to be cold inside for games……

    23 April, 2008 at 10:15 pm | Permalink
  11. Ben wrote:

    The building neeeds a large, expensive dehumidifier like they have in Toronto. Will Abe Pollin pay for that? Helllllls no. He’d sooner sell chunks of his arena to Red Wings fans during the Stanley Cup than do something to help the Caps.
    Unfortunately, until he croaks we’re stuck with the slop.

    23 April, 2008 at 10:51 pm | Permalink
  12. Juan-John wrote:

    “Maybe they can build the Capitals a climate controlled, hockey-only arena?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ some day.”
    Apropos of nothing, the Nats and DC United had the same complaint when they shared RFK.

    23 April, 2008 at 11:02 pm | Permalink
  13. Chuck wrote:

    I’ve always wondered how much heat from the Metro would contribute to it. Think about it. You have a major transfer point right under the arena. Sure there’s vents on the sidewalks, but what about the cumulative heat and the heat to warm the station, rising (as hot air does), to the floor of the arena, therefore insulating the ice with heat while the ice is covered on top with a floor for basketball or concert or whatever? I’m sure Metro customers wouldn’t be thrilled with a colder station for the sake of a hockey game. However, it could keep Metro’s heating bill down for a nice constant 64 degrees of cool air.
    I’m not saying it’s the end-all reason, but another contributing factor (with it being a very busy arena, warm air, not enough time to let a newly installed sheet settle).

    23 April, 2008 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  14. Chuck, yours is a first of its kind theory that I’ve encountered, and I find it positively fascinating. It might help explain why an arena like Philly’s can regularly deliver adequate ice while ours can’t. Maybe. I should also say that I’m intellectually disqualified from any and all such discussions in any substantive way.

    23 April, 2008 at 11:49 pm | Permalink
  15. Ben wrote:

    But does the actual Metro station run underneath the ice surface?
    If so that theory holds water. Haha get it. Ok bed time.

    24 April, 2008 at 12:07 am | Permalink
  16. errantelf wrote:

    When I saw them actually SQUEEGEEING the ice just before the second period and could still see POOLS of water as they turned out the lights, I knew the Flyers were going to have the advantage on that ice. I actually wondered (and worried) about whether home “ice” was actually to our advantage before the series started.

    24 April, 2008 at 1:39 am | Permalink
  17. Zach wrote:

    I was at the game and ice conditions were very bad indeed.
    I was struck by how much water was still just sitting there after the zamboni’s would go through.
    I know there are limits to what can be done but it is clear that things as they are now are unacceptable and if they continue like this, someone like Ovie or Semin will blow out a knee.

    24 April, 2008 at 3:15 am | Permalink
  18. The Peerless wrote:

    “Right now I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m far less concerned about restricted and unrestricted free agents getting inked this summer and worrying who?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s groin is next to rupture.”
    – What player who might have played two games on that lake of gravel is going to say, “yeah, gimme 41 games on that stuff…41 opportunities to put my career in jeopardy?”

    24 April, 2008 at 4:35 am | Permalink
  19. SovSport wrote:

    Peerless, good point.

    24 April, 2008 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  20. Victor wrote:

    re: Ice in Florida. Sports Illustrated had an article, last year if memory serves, discussing how ice is made and maintained and I do believe they said the ice in one Florida rink was quite good. Sadly, I can’t find the article online, but one of the tricks that I seem to remember is they lower plastic curtains around the rink that reach almost to the ceiling, to isolate and insulate the ice from the rest of the arena in between games.

    24 April, 2008 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  21. Ryan wrote:

    That metro station idea is pretty interesting. Are there public records of blueprints for the VC and metro station to see how they align in relation to one another?

    24 April, 2008 at 9:57 am | Permalink
  22. MulletMan wrote:

    Haha, wonder how long it will take big brother to be a knocking on your door after you request records for VC and Metro Stops.

    24 April, 2008 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
  23. 6 October, 2008 at 10:53 am | Permalink