April 19, 2021

While the NHL lockout thaws, Verizon Center freezes

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012 (Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

While the NHL’s Board of Governors approved the Memorandum of Understanding with the NHLPA to begin the end of the lockout Wednesday afternoon, 226 miles to the southwest, the crew at Verizon Center was busy putting down the ice surface the Capitals will use this year for the shortened season.

With the boards standing in a nearly empty arena, the crew was walking across the newly-frozen surface to paint and add logos to the playing surface, which was a thin layer of ice with a white water-soluble paint on top of the building’s concrete floor.

“About 5:00 in the morning, they started bringing the floor below like 36 degrees,” Jamie Gibson, Assistant Director of Operations of Verizon Center explained. “And then about 8:30, [we] started putting down coat of water on the concrete to seal the concrete. After we do that a few times, we paint the white, which is a water soluble dump it in the water and it freezes when you put water. And you seal it again with water, and then paint the lines and logos and stuff.”

The blue lines, face-off circles and dots are painted directly on the ice, the center ice line – which the Capitals decorate with stars instead of stripes – and other logos and wordmarks are actually cloth placed on the ice and then covered with water and rolled flat.

Workers placed a small spike in the ice to measure the circles, using a tether to paint the face-off circles. The blue lines were marked with string, and after the two sides were added, a worker using a paint tray and a brush filled it in. After the lines were down, the center ice stripe, Capitals logo and sponsor logos were put into place based on a diagram on a notebook placed on the dasher boards.

While the crew used to paint the entire ice, the cloth logos are reusable, and make putting down the ice faster – but slows down the meltdown process.

“Probably in the last six or seven years, we started using the cloth logos,” Gibson said, “it’s easier, you don’t have as much of a mess. They’re harder to take out, but much easier to put in. … On the ice, it saves a lot of time. Taking it out, it adds a couple of hours. We reuse them. They get hung up and dried, and put them back out the next time we make ice.”

Once the paint and logos are in place, another 10,000 gallons of water are slowly used to build up the ice to an inch’s depth, a surface thick enough to protect the players from reaching the logos and paint. The entire process takes about 24 hours, meaning the ice will be ready to smooth out with the Olympia ice resurfacer.

“We’ll use that Friday to level out the ice,” Gibson said. “When you flood it, the ice is going too freeze the way the water goes, so you’ll end up with ripples on top, we’ll level it, use hot water on it, make it as good as we can. The more you resurface itself, the better it is.”

In a normal year, the crew will build and melt the ice several times in a season, but not this year.

“It depends on the year,” he said. “Some years, we’ve done as many as five. Sometimes you take it out for NCAA [regionals] or the other things, we have the horse show. We have monster trucks, whatever. … We can’t this year. This year’s kind of tight with the season.”

For those curious, Gibson was unaware of any plans to use a “Thank You Fans” logo in the ice as the NHL did following the lockout in the 2005-06 season. The reason is the ice would be down all year and tough to remove.

“There will be none this year,” he said. “They know everybody isn’t going to be taking the ice out, at the beginning of the season they take the ice out, it’s easy to pull those logos out, but with this compact season we’re going to have, they don’t want to put them in.”

Asked about some arenas that have left their ice in since September, such as Los Angeles’ Staples Center and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Gibson explained it would be expensive for Verizon Center to keep the surface down without any ice events.

“It would be very expensive,” he said. “The compressors would have been running since September with electric use and everything else.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time the ice has been down, as the crew put in the ice for the AHL Showcase back in December. But the rink was quickly melted after the event.

“Depressing,” Gibson recalled. “When you put it for one game, that’s a lot of work for one game. We want it to stay in.”

Gibson has been part of the ice crew since working at the Capital Centre in 1987. While the ice at Verizon Center has been a subject of some criticism by players over the years, he says the ice downtown is much better than the one in Landover.

“It’s much better,” he said. “Newer equipment, much better down here.”

So, while the NHL slowly moves back towards playing a season with the NHLPA expected to ratify their side of the agreement for camp likely starting Sunday and a season starting January 19th, Gibson is back to have hockey back in the building.

“It’s been kind of boring without it,” he said. “It’s great. Happy to have it back.”

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)

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Verizon Center, 1/9/2012
(Ted Starkey/District Sports Page)


Wizards blow 16 point third quarter lead, fall at home to Hawks 95-92

Since the trade deadline acquisition of Nene, the Washington Wizards have looked like a different team. Unfortunately one serious problem remains—consistency—and it reared its ugly head again Saturday night as the Wizards blew their second consecutive double digit lead at home in losing to the Atlanta Hawks.

A night after losing a 22 point lead and falling to the Indiana Pacers in the final seconds, the Wizards were at it again. Despite having control of the game for the better part of three quarters, the Hawks were able to hit some clutch shots down the stretch—none more clutch than Joe Johnson’s three pointer with under a minute ago that gave the Hawks their first lead since the opening minutes of the second quarter, 93-92.

The Wizards failed to capitalize on solid efforts from Nene (22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) and Jordan Crawford (20 points on 9-for-19 shooting) in the loss. Trevor Booker also hauled in 14 boards to go with his 8 points, but John Wall struggled, shooting 1-for-10 and tallying only 8 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals.

Josh Smith paced the Hawks with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Joe Johnson came through for them in the fourth to finish with 16 points and five rebounds.

While only one Washington starter (Crawford) had a negative plus/minus on the night, the majority of Atlanta’s starting unit was outscored when on the floor. The bench units, however, were the opposite—with only one of the Wizards sub registering a positive (Roger Mason), and only one of the Hawks reserves in the negative (Jason Collins).

A Crawford three pointer with under four minutes left in the third quarter made the score 71-55, giving the Wizards their largest lead of the night. But after the teams traded baskets the Hawks went on a 17-5 run over the next four minutes. Josh Smith’s jumper with just over three minutes remaining knotted the score at 90, and scoring was at a premium for the rest of the game.

Johnson’s jumper with 46 seconds left in the contest may have been the key shot in the game, giving the team their first lead in almost 35 game minutes, but there were several other important plays down the stretch. Immediately before, Trevor Booker was whistled for a loose ball foul that set up Johnson’s look off the inbound play.

“There’s a 50-50 ball between Booker and Josh Smith that we get called for a foul. Just blows my mind.” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “That foul’s not called in the first 30 seconds of the game, let alone the last minute. That’s what’s tough for those guys. I mean, it’s a 50-50 ball they’re both jumping for. Booker is called for a foul and Joe Johnson hits a three on the side out of bounds after that.”

Immediately after, the Wizards went 22 seconds into the shot clock before Crawford’s errant jumper, allowing the Hawks to run out the clock. The Wizards allowed them to waste nine seconds…before the Hawks called timeout. The Wizards wised up during the break and fouled Johnson on the inbound, his two free throws becoming the final margin.

The Wizards missed 2-for-1 opportunity was just another contributing factor in their collapse down the stretch.

Wall missed a three pointer as the cock wound down, capping a difficult night for the Wizards star guard. “Some of my shots were good, some were bad, but they just didn’t go in,” Wall said. “That’s kind of frustrating.”

It was the worst shooting night of his young NBA career, absent a 1-for-12 debacle against the Magic earlier this year.

The Hawks, coming off a late win Friday night in New Jersey, had a reason to run out of gas. But it was the Wizards who were unable to convert down the stretch, leaving them with another “what if?” in a season chock full of them.

While the Wizards are far from playoff contention, and every loss means additional ping pong balls in the NBA draft lottery, wins against a competitive team (Atlanta is currently holding the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs) can give a young squad confidence to build on.

The Wizards try to end their demoralizing two game losing streak in Boston tonight as they take on the Celtics.

Wizards start strong, stumble in second half against the Kings, 115-107

The Sacramento Kings have a lot in common with the Washington Wizards: dollops of young talent but equal parts inconsistency. Both were on display Wednesday night as the Wizards again squandered a big first half lead before falling to a road-weary Kings team 115-107.

The Kings were in the last of a six-game Eastern swing, and were able to muster just enough defense to pull out their first win of the trip. John Wall’s near triple double (21 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 5 turnovers) and Jordan Crawford’s hot shooting (32 points on 12-for-19 from the field) weren’t enough, as the Wizards gave up 96 shots (12 above Sacramento’s average, third highest in the league) and 18 offensive rebounds. [Read more…]

Jeremy Lin leads nicked up Knicks over Wiz 107-93

The New York Knicks traveled to Washington down two star players, with Amare Stoudemire in mourning and Carmelo Anthony on the injury report. The Wizards were coming off a Monday home win, and despite injuries to veterans Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis were playing some of their most inspired basketball of the season.

In the teams’ last tilt, Stoudemire and Anthony combined to score 60 points in leading New York to a comeback victory. This time, it was Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak sparking the Knicks to a 107-93 win after trailing by as many as eight in the second quarter. [Read more…]

Wizards Build Big Lead, Eek Out Win Against Raptors 111-108

After being blown out by the Raptors in Toronto three nights prior, the Washington Wizards were looking for a measure of revenge. Despite blowing a large early lead, the Wizards were able to pull out a 111-108 win.

John Wall had 31 points (10-for-19 FG), seven assists, five5 rebounds, two steals and two blocks for the Wizards, who won their fifth game of the season by beating the Raptors for the second time.

Nick Young chipped in 29 on 9-for-20 shooting and Trevor Booker had 19 points to go with three steals and three blocks on the night. The Raptors were led by Linas Kleiza and Jerryd Bayless who each had 30 in a losing effort. [Read more…]

A Bull in a-Chinatown: Rose’s 35 down Wizards, 98-88

The news of Andray Blatche’s month-long absence came at a particularly inconvenient time for the Wizards. The Chicago Bulls, coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat, were in town looking to take out some frustration.

Despite making a run down the stretch, when the Bulls looked like they were feeling the effects of an emotional back-to-back, the Wizards eventually fell to Eastern Conference leaders, 98-88.

Rose made Swiss cheese of the Wizards defense early, getting to the basket at will and scoring 13 first quarter points. [Read more…]

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