Emptying the Notebook (Caps, Pro Bowl, Gilbert)

by Colin Donohue

I’ve always loved the idea of “emptying the notebook” on this here blog. Justin did it a couple of posts back, and I know I’ve done something similar here and/or at the old blog stompin’ grounds. (Also: The running diary concept is great. Justin tackled it a few nights ago, and I’m planning on doing the same this Sunday for the Pens-Caps game on NBC at noon. That’s right. Hockey will be played on Super Bowl Sunday. I consider the Saints-Colts match-up later in the day simply a winding down from the afternoon’s real event: the Penguins and the Capitals from Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. I’m only half-kidding here. See why below.)

And yes, even …

Here are some musings:

Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin is leading the Caps on their current 10-game win streak.

Speaking of the Caps, they won their 10th game in a row this afternoon, beating Tampa Bay 3-2 on a late goal from Alexander Ovechkin, the finest hockey player in the world. The Caps last won 10 straight games during the 1982-83 season. Washington has looked a little shaky in the last two, but the team has pulled out victories anyway. They lead their division by what has to be an insurmountable 23 points, they’re tops in the Eastern Conference by eight points (80), they’ve scored the most goals in the league (214), they have the highest goal differential in the league (+65), they have the league’s best power play (26.2%), they lead the league in goals scored in the first and third periods, they lead the league in goals scored in the first or last minutes of a period, and they’re an impressive 25-0-2 when leading after two periods. There isn’t a team playing better in the NHL right now than the Caps. The winning streak will have to come to an end, but the Caps are looking like the real deal this season. (Check THIS LINK to see how quickly the Caps can score. They are a lethal offensive team. Three goals in 2:30.)

******************************************************************

I’m loving the ups and downs in men’s college basketball this season. Seeing Kentucky drop a game to South Carolina was great. Seeing Texas lose a few is refreshing. Seeing UConn go down to Marquette was nice. I’m not happy because I have some deep seeded hatred for any of the above teams (although I’m no real fan of Calipari anymore), but because it’s always great to see parity in college sports. I hope this continues. Maybe we’ll finally witness a No. 16 seed upsetting a No. 1 in this year’s tourney.

******************************************************************

Moving the Pro Bowl to Miami and playing it a week before the Super Bowl is a mistake. I want to see Peyton Manning and Drew Brees playing in an All-Star game. Sure, the date change has given a deserving player like London Fletcher the opportunity to participate in his first Pro Bowl. But if I’m going to watch a Pro Bowl, I want to see the best. (Fletcher replaced Jonathan Vilma, a linebacker for the Saints. Obviously, Vilma won’t play because he’s preparing for a real game. But Fletcher should’ve made the NFC team over Vilma anyway. Fletcher has been worthy of a spot on a Pro Bowl team for virtually his entire career, but it wasn’t until this season that he finally got the call. It’s a travesty.)

******************************************************************

Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas should've been suspended. But the Wizards organization isn't an innocent party.

Here’s my take: Gilbert Arenas acted foolishly by bringing guns into the Wizards locker room. He should’ve been suspended. I’m OK with commish David Stern forcing Gilbert to sit for the rest of the season without pay. What I’m not thrilled with is how the Wizards organization has reacted to the situation. Should the franchise condemn Gilbert? To some degree, yes. Should the franchise say it supports Stern’s suspension? Yes. Should the franchise start removing all references to Gilbert, including removing all Arenas apparel from its Web site? Absolutely not. The Wizards have been a joke of an organization for more than 25 years. Gilbert was the first marquee player this team has had in a couple of decades. He single-handedly made the Wizards and the NBA relevant again in a town that loves basketball. He even led the Wizards out of the first round of the playoffs five years ago. Sure, Washington was never going to be confused with a championship contender. But the Wizards were fun to watch, and they did win a few more than they lost. But Gil got hurt, lost a couple of seasons, cashed in on a huge contract and then brought guns to work. And the last two seasons, the Wizards have suffered. They’re terrible. The franchise can express its disappointment with Gilbert, but it should also be offering him some support. The late Abe Pollin believed in giving people second chances and offering them an opportunity to redeem themselves. Apparently, that’s not a franchise-wide philosophy anymore. Now, it seems the organization wants to rid itself of the one player that made basketball fun in the district. And don’t think other players aren’t watching this entire ordeal. Do you think the Wizards will be able to land a big-name free agent sometime soon? Absolutely not because other players will remember how the Wizards treated Arenas at a time when he needed some kind of organizational support. The relationship between Arenas and the Wizards may be irrevocably severed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gil playing somewhere else in the future. I know what he did was dumb and irresponsible. He deserves his punishment. But I still have a soft spot for Gil, and I do hope he plays for Washington again. I’m less concerned about his ability to bounce back because the real loser in this entire situation will be the Washington Wizards organization. Ahhhh, what was …

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