As Playoffs Heat Up, NHL Aims to Ice Global Warming

  • Monday, April 16, 2012 9:25 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Photo credit: Chealion/Michael J. at Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/chealion

Game three tonight between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals promises to be a scorcher. But it is the heat outside of the Verizon Center that could play a factor.

Washington, D.C. and more than 90 other American cities already experienced the warmest March on record. And today temperatures are expected to reach historic highs of near 90 degrees fahrenheit in the nation's capital, which could cause problems with the Verizon Center ice surface. Despite being indoors, a hot day outside can affect ice conditions. Warm weather can soften the ice, making it difficult to skate and control the puck.

But if the game was in Boston it would be no better. Ask the more than 4,000 Boston Marathon entrants who sat out today's race due to the record mid-80s heat wave. It was the second slowest race since 1985 thanks to the blistering heat.

Hockey, more than any other sport, depends on cold weather to keep the ice sheet smooth and hard. That's why the climate change forecasting trends should have every hockey player and fan running to replace their gas guzzler with an electric vehicle. A new study published in the Institute of Physics’ journal, Environmental Research Letters, concludes that because of steadily rising temperatures, by mid-century there might not be any outdoor ice rinks in Canada. Let me repeat that. Climate change could kill outdoor ice hockey in Canada. If that isn't a wake up call then nothing short of Lake Ontario overtaking Toronto will convince skeptics.

Rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change is something the National Hockey League takes very seriously. The NHL publicizes its efforts to lower its carbon footprint at its NHL Green Web site, a partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Some recent headlines include a story about New York City's gigantic Stanley Cup fountain that encourages visitors to taste the pure, clean NYC tap water from the Catskill Mountains. The event was part of the NHL's Gallons for Goals initiative, which aims to educate people about the importance of freshwater as a natural resource. Other recent news items include a story about the New Jersey Devils using biodiesel at the Prudential Center and how NHL clubs are honoring Earth Hour by switching-off non-essential lighting for one hour.

And Canada, the spiritual home of hockey, is starting to take climate change action. Perhaps the Harper Administration took notice when a weekend heat wave in late March in Ottawa spawned the capital's first smog day of the year. Ottawa doesn't generally get much smog and certainly not as early as March 19. Whatever the reason, there is encouraging news today from Canada as it was reported that the government is cracking down on heavy duty vehicle emissions. The new regulations for large pick-up trucks, buses and other heavy duty vehicles will by 2020 reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million tons per year.

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Mike Green Suspension Adds To Caps' Season Of Adversity

  • Friday, March 9, 2012 5:11 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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It’s been a tough season for the Washington Capitals. Going into this campaign they were considered a Stanley Cup contender and now they are desperately fighting just to get into the postseason. Along the way head coach Bruce Boudreau was fired and replaced with former player Dale Hunter; number one center Nicklas Backstrom was sidelined with a concussion, possibly for the season; stars Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin have been underperforming; and offseason pickups Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Vokoun have not lived up to expectations so far.

Now comes the news that defenseman Mike Green has been suspended three games for his hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brett Connolly. Green has already missed a significant portion of the season due to injury. NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan has added to the adversity the Caps have faced all season with this suspension.

I agree that hits to the head must stop and that Green’s hit could be considered dangerous, although there was no penalty assessed and Connolly was not injured. I also agree with Caps commentator Alan May when he said after the game that players need to be aware on the ice at all times and take responsibility for their own personal safety by not putting themselves in vulnerable positions.

Regardless, the suspension has made what was already going to be a hard road trip even harder. I guess we will find out how the Caps react to this latest round of adversity Saturday afternoon in Boston against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Professional Hockey Player Andrew Ference Goes Green

  • Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:34 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Most hockey fans know about Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference because of the team's Stanley Cup championship run last season. And recently Ference made headlines for a three-game suspension he received after a hit on the New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh. But the National Geographic Channel is showing another side of Ference that many NHL fans might not be aware of: eco-warrior.

"Beyond the Puck," a web video series featuring new episodes every Thursday, provides brief glimpses (the videos average only a few minutes) into the off-ice life of Ference and his family as the Edmonton, Canada native goes green. Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki inspired Ference to pursue a carbon neutral lifestyle and helped him start in 2007 the NHL's first environmental program that encourages players to go carbon neutral and think about their impact on the environment.

One webisode shows how Ference ditched his gas-guzzling truck for a bicycle. He now bikes to work and plays with his two children on bikes. Other webisodes show Ference grocery shopping for healthy organic food and composting at home with his kids.

Ference joins other current and former NHL players like ex-Rangers goalie Mike Richter in taking a public stand for protecting the planet. With so many professional athletes these days making headlines for all the wrong reasons, it is nice to see someone like Ference inspiring others to do the right thing.

Here is the trailer:

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Dustin The Sharks: Hawks In Finals

  • Sunday, May 23, 2010 1:15 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Before I mount heaps of praise upon the Chicago Blackhawks for reaching the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992 by sweeping the San Jose Sharks, I have to make a comparison that might make Washington Capitals fans like myself question why Mike Green is on defense instead of being a forward.

The reason being is that Chicago forward Dustin Byfuglien started out as a defenseman and was moved to the forward position -- an experiment that has been wildly successful. Byfuglien scored the game-winning goal the past two games against San Jose, none more important than his third period tally at United Center this Sunday afternoon that capped a 'Hawks rally after being down two goals and sent 23,000 fans at the Madhouse on Madison into a frenzy and the Blackhawks into the Stanley Cup Finals.

Perhaps Green is better suited as a forward and could have the same kind of success as Byfuglien has had with Chicago. But that is a decision the Capitals will have to make. Maybe seeing the 'Hawks skating into the Stanley Cup Finals will make them consider changing things up a bit.

Chicago will be playing for its first championship since 1961. While a lot of that is due to Byfuglien's heroics, goaltender Antti Niemi deserves a lot of credit for keeping the 'Hawks in every game with save after spectacular save.

And with young stars like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the NHL couldn't have asked for a better representative from the Western Conference. Chicago will play the winner of the Flyers-Canadiens series, which could end as early as Monday night in Philadelphia with the Flyers up 3-1 against Les Habs. Of course, tell that to the Caps and Pens.

Video highlights of Game 4:

NHL Ices Global Warming

  • Thursday, May 20, 2010 6:45 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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The coldest sport on earth is icing global warming.

The National Hockey League is skating toward a better future with Thursday's announcement of its Green Initiative in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The NHL has launched a green micro-site within NHL.com called NHL Green. The site contains features, headline news, eco-friendly advice, environmental links and multimedia content.

"Our game originated on frozen ponds," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Most of our players learned to skate on outdoor rinks. For that magnificent tradition to continue through future generations, we need winter weather -- and, as a league, we are uniquely positioned to promote that message. We are thrilled to be able to work with the Natural Resources Defense Council and to draw upon its vast experience and expertise in greening League events and League and Club operations."

The NHL also announced that it will be replacing 30,000 plastic shopping bags with reusable bags at this year's Stanley Cup Finals.

"Lakes are freezing later and melting earlier, which is not good for ice hockey, and biodiversity is being lost at historically unprecedented rates, which is not good for the health and well-being of our planet," said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist, NRDC. "As one of the world's most iconic professional sports leagues, the NHL should be applauded for launching a program to help address these global environmental pressures, and NRDC is proud to join with the NHL to help identify ecologically meaningful, achievable goals. The NHL has an opportunity to make a real difference in its own operations, with its suppliers, and also to set a standard for others to follow. We are excited to embark on this valuable project."

This is a smart move by Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League. If we are going to change the public's perception of climate change then professional sports will hopefully lead the way. Spectator sports provides one of the few public spaces that unites Americans of all stripes and persuasions.

When the NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL and MLS take the lead in acknowledging and taking action against climate change, then the skeptical masses will follow.

So kudos to the NHL for going green. Here are links to the green initiatives of the other major sports leagues:

NBA Green

MLB Team Greening Program

MLS Greener Goals

While I couldn't find a web page from the National Football League, it doesn't mean the NFL isn't going green as this article about last year's Super Bowl reveals:

Six Ways the NFL is Greening Super Bowl XLIV. Really.

Here is video of Bettman talking about NHL Green:

Habs Teach Caps The Biggest Lesson Of All

  • Wednesday, April 28, 2010 4:19 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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In no other sport is there as much of a difference between the regular season and the playoffs than hockey. And in no other sport is there as much parity in the playoffs as in the NHL.

Just ask the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres and the best team in the regular season -- the Washington Capitals. They will all be sitting at home watching the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens battle in the Eastern Conference second round.

But put aside the Devils and Sabres, I'm going to focus on the one area the Caps are sorely lacking in, and it wasn't the atrocious one-for-30-something power play. The biggest lesson of all? DEFENSE wins championships, not offense.

Offense gets a team 121 points, a 50-goal scorer and a Presidents Trophy in the regular season ... and a first-round ticket to the golf course.

This is perhaps the hardest lesson to learn in all of sports, because defensive, er, deficiencies can be easily masked in the loosey-goosey regular season when it is easy to simply outscore other teams night after night if you have Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Fleishmann and Green on your side.

But oh how the playoffs are a different story. Things tighten up more than the Republicans in Congress, and every little mental or physical error is magnified a hundred times.

For example, Mike Green is a Norris Trophy candidate and has been compared to Paul Coffey as the one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL. But Green was left off Team Canada because of his penchant to turn the puck over or take a stupid penalty at just the wrong time. Of course his lack of defensive skill and smartness is forgotten quickly in the regular season. But when he takes a cross-checking penalty in the offensive zone near the end of a first period in a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs and Montreal scores to make it 1-0, well then Green is really exposed.

And Ovechkin was bottled up the whole series by Hal Gill. He did an amazing job of containing Alex the Great during the series. And let's get this straight, I love Ovechkin but he is no Sidney Crosby. I was at the Caps-Habs Game 2 and I heard a Caps fan behind me chanting "Crosby Sucks!" What? What planet are you on buddy? Crosby sucks? Is this the same Crosby who scored the game-winning goal for Team Canada to win the Gold Medal in Vancouver? Or maybe it is the same Crosby who took the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals two years in a row and won the Stanley Cup last year? Is it that Crosby? And what has Ovechkin accomplished team-wise? Nothing. Until he does, it is painful for me to say, but Crosby is King and Ovechkin is an Imposter.

And what is the biggest part of defense in the playoffs? Goaltending of course. And Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak was nothing short of brilliant and deserves the comparisons to Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden. The Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov was great too, but Halak was better and that was the difference.

So what do I hope the high-flying Caps learn from this Game 7 loss, and last year's Game 7 loss to Pittsburgh, and the year before when they lost in Game 7 to the Flyers?

DEFENSE WINS STANLEY CUPS.

Three Reasons I'm a Hockey Fan

  • Sunday, January 10, 2010 8:23 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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1. NO GUNS IN HOCKEY



A hockey player would never store unloaded guns in his locker room and then lay them out Wild West style to intimidate a teammate over a gambling dispute like Washington Wizards player Gilbert Arenas did.

And a hockey player would absolutely under no circumstances dishonor the legacy of a beloved recently deceased owner such as Abe Pollin, who changed the name Bullets to Wizards because of gun violence.

And a hockey player would never bring guns to an arena like the Verizon Center in a city like Washington, D.C. where young black men have tragically been killing other young black men with guns at an alarming rate for way too long.

Sure, NHL players from places like Saskatoon participate in redneck activities like hunting Moose in the offseason, but their rifles are thankfully far from civilization.

2. HOCKEY PLAYERS ARE GREEN



NHL athletes get it when it comes to urgent environmental issues, as these two recent examples demonstrate.

Anaheim Ducks star Scott Niedermayer publicly announced his ownership of a Honda FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. He will drive this zero emissions vehicle from his home in southern Orange County to the Honda Center. From the Ducks blog on the Orange County Register website:

“It’s something that’s important to me - being responsible as far as how we treat the environment,” Niedermayer said. “It provides everything we need to survive here. We should show a little responsibility and turn back to the planet. I’ve always considered that. I grew up in a beautiful part of the world (Cranbrook, British Columbia) where you’re able to drink from the streams … It’s just a passion, something that I feel is important.”

Former Rangers goaltender Mike Richter and other NHL reps and environmental experts participated in a panel discussion at Fenway Park prior to the Winter Classic game titled "Sustainable Success: A Discussion on Business and the Environment."

The panel was moderated by New York Times columnist David Brooks and the main topic of conversation centered around how professional sports can help be a part of the solution to the climate crisis. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made perhaps the most obvious but overlooked point:

"We as a League, well, we worry about the ice melting perhaps more than any other sport," said Bettman.

3. THE NHL WOULDN'T NIX 'HAWKS-BEARS PARTNERSHIP



A marketing deal between the Chicago Blackhawks and Bears sounds like a win-win right? Well, not according to the NFL.

The partnership would have included ads featuring players from both teams explaining their respective sports to each other. But those TV commercials will never air because the stooges at the NFL are citing an archaic rule to justify nixing the deal. From the Chicago Tribune:

"The NFL prohibits use of team marks and logos in connection with the promotion of other sports except by a three-quarters vote of the league's 32 clubs, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello."

This might be the dumbest rule in all of professional sports.

It would be in the NFL's best interest to allow the Bears to ride the coattails of the hottest team in Chitown, because it certainly isn't the playoff-missing Bears. The most coveted ticket in town right now is a seat at the United Center for a 'Hawks game.

Are you listening NFL?

Chicago's hockey team is better than its football team. Sort of like what is going on in our nation's capital with the Capitals and Redskins.

The NFL should reverse this rule so Patrick Kane can help sell some tickets to Soldier Field.

Around the Rink: Canada Snubs Green

  • Thursday, December 31, 2009 12:50 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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YZERMAN SNUBS GREEN



Calgary native Mike Green was left off Team Canada's Olympics roster. What a shame. I don't know what executive director Steve Yzerman was thinking when he left the Washington Capitals' Norris-nominated defenseman off the team. What I do know is that it was a mistake.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, all of 20 years, made the cut over Green? Come on. The National Post quoted Yzerman as saying he picked players who "will you to a win." And what does Green do then?

In the 2007-2008 season Caps commentator Joe Beninati nicknamed Green "Game Over" because he finished the season with 4 game-winning goals along with a league-leading 18 goals by a defenseman for 56 points. Last season Green set an NHL record by scoring in eight consecutive games. As of Dec. 13 he led all defensemen with 32 points (6 goals and 26 assists) in 32 games.

I just don't understand this decision, other than a bias against offensive-minded defensemen. Green should be skating in Vancouver in February. Oh well, I guess this is more ammunition for Green to prove the critics wrong. Expect a big second half of the season for the All-Star blue-liner.

SUN-TIMES: BLACKHAWKS ONE OF DECADE'S BIGGEST LOCAL STORIES



The rise of the Chicago Blackhawks is No. 6 on the Chicago Sun-Times' top ten biggest local stories of the decade. No. 1? The White Sox winning the World Series of course! Here is the 'Hawks entry from the Sun-Times website:

"6. Rocky Wirtz takes over the Blackhawks

When longtime Blackhawks chairman Bill Wirtz passed away in September 2007, he left behind a crumbling organization, a lousy hockey team and an embittered fan base. Enter son Rocky Wirtz. Within days, he vowed to put fans first and to restore the franchise to its glory days of the past. And he has delivered on his promises, rapidly transforming the organization into one of the best in the NHL. Hawks games, long an afterthought in this city, have become exciting, must-see events. And the team has become a Stanley Cup contender."

BIG TRADE: CHIMERA FOR CLARK, JURCINA



The Caps and Jackets made a big mid-season trade, with gritty, hard-charging forward Jason Chimera going to the Caps for veteran forward and captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina. I got a taste of Chimera's fearless net-crashing turbo boosters while watching last night's 5-2 loss at San Jose on NHL GameCenter Live. At one point late in the game Chimera skated full speed towards Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabakov. He nearly scored, but instead flew into and over Nabakov. Chimera should be a valuable irritant to opposing goalies.

IMPACT! MAGAZINE MAKING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT?



The December 2009 issue of NHL.com's Impact! Magazine is available online. The cover story is about the rise of Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin. The web-only edition looks great and is easy to read online by flipping the virtual pages the same way you would read a print magazine. But if the point of providing the magazine online instead of print is to save paper and the environment, then NHL.com probably shouldn't lead off with this:

"The best part: print out the entire magazine and take it with you!"

DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN, I MEAN KINGS DEFEAT FLAMES



As an online news editor myself I can certainly sympathize with late-night errors when your eyes and mind are a bit foggy. But still, this is really bad. On the top of NHL.com the final score is 2-1 Flames over Kings, but the headline (which was up for a good 45 minutes) says "Kings edge Flames." Somebody was asleep at the Zamboni!

Caps and Skins: A Tale of Two Owners

  • Tuesday, September 29, 2009 7:13 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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This is a story from my beloved birthplace of Washington, D.C. about two proud professional sports franchises that are going in opposite directions.

One, the Washington Capitals, are on the cusp of a Stanley Cup because their owner, Ted Leonsis, did all the right things. The other, the Washington Redskins, are a perpetual disappointment because their owner, Daniel Snyder, did everything wrong.

So what did Leonsis do right and what can Danny boy learn from his success?

First, let's get one thing crystal clear for those of you readers who aren't familiar with the sports obsessions of our nation's capital -- Washington is a football town, not a hockey town. There are many historical and demographic reasons for this that I won't get into. But when it comes to sports, despite their current state of mediocrity, the 'Skins are number one and the Caps are somewhere behind the Wizards and in front of the Mystics and D.C. United.

That said, Leonsis has turned a night at the Verizon Center into an event where loyal Caps fans and bandwagoners alike "Rock the Red" to cheer one of the most exciting and talented teams in the NHL.

And how did this happen? Listen up Danny boy.

Leonsis and General Manager George McPhee built this franchise through smart (and lucky) drafting, smart trades (or not trading) and a solid developmental system. But when Abe Pollin sold the franchise to the AOL exec in 1999 Leonsis made some of the same mistakes that Snyder continues to make -- namely throwing heaps of cash at over-the-hill or simply unmotivated players. In this case, it was signing Jaromir Jagr to the largest ever contract in NHL history -- $77 million over seven years with an option for an eighth year. Jagr didn't live up to expectations, playing uninspired and mediocre hockey during his time in Washington.

Then in the 2003-2004 season Leonsis and McPhee made a decision to unload all the high-priced talent (or former talent) in what some refer to as a "fire sale."

This is where luck came into play as the Caps nabbed the number one draft pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and chose Russian sensation Alexander Ovechkin. The rest as they say, is history. Ovechkin has turned into arguably the greatest professional hockey player in the world and his playful personality and fun-first attitude has created a buzz in D.C. not seen since Joe Theismann was taking the Redskins to Super Bowls and setting team records. Oh, and Theismann just happened to be the last D.C. pro athlete to win league MVP back in 1983 before Ovechkin won the first of two Hart trophies in 2008 and was given the keys to the city by Mayor Adrian Fenty.

The Capitals have developed and signed young talent such as Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Simeon Varlamov. They also hired head coach Bruce Boudreau who took the team from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to the playoffs, earning him the Jack Adams Award as best coach. This past offseason the Caps mixed in some veteran talent with the addition of Mike Knuble, who is not afraid to crash the net and score dirty goals, something the Caps were missing in the grind of the playoffs.

And the fans are excited for a long playoff run this year. And why shouldn't they? They have watched their owner and GM guide this team the right way, methodically putting all the pieces together over the years. And this is the result -- an electric atmosphere on the streets of Gallery Place-Chinatown around the Verizon Center and loads of talented young players on the ice who are growing together into a Stanley Cup contending team.

On behalf of all Caps fan I want to say a big thanks to Ted Leonsis for rebuilding this franchise the right way and putting the fans first.

Now what not to do.

Our $1.3 billion Bethesda native Daniel Snyder really, really wants to win. But all he gets is mediocre and sometime horrific results (anybody watch the Lions game?). So why is that? It probably starts with how he was able to buy the team and the stadium following the death of Jack Kent Cooke -- borrowing $300 million from a French investment bank and assuming $155 million in debt.

What does he do next? Strips off the name of beloved owner Jack Kent Cooke from the stadium in Landover, Maryland for a naming rights deal with FedEx. I find it ironic that Snyder has no problem getting rid of the Cooke name but when it comes to the name Redskins, which many consider a racist slur, he won't budge. This despite the possibility of losing millions of dollars because the group fighting the name is taking it all the way to the Supreme Court. These Native Americans are trying to get the high court to deny the Redskins trademark because they consider the name and logo to be offensive.

The name Redskins by the way was coined by their racist owner George Preston Marshall who refused to integrate the team until 1962 when he was forced to by the federal government under the threat of revoking the lease on D.C. Stadium (now R.F.K. Stadium). But will Snyder change the name like Pollin did with the Bullets? Of course not.

Just a side note -- there actually was another professional football franchise in Washington before the Redskins arrived from Boston. The Washington Senators played for one season in 1921 and were also referred to as the Washington Pros or Washington Presidents. So there you go, three nicknames that could replace the unfortunate name Redskins.

So how does Snyder treat the fans and employees? How about suing season-ticket holders. I must be kidding right? Nope. The 'Skins sued 125 season ticket holders for $3.6 million. Because of the economic downturn the ticket holders asked to be released from multiyear contracts and instead of negotiating the Redskins sued.

And the employees are treated even worse. According to the Washington Post, six former ticket sales agents have filed suit against the Redskins arguing that they are owed thousands of dollars in overtime pay that the Redskins won't pay because of "a federal exemption for amusement and recreation workers."

And on the field and the sidelines it gets even worse. Poor decisions by Exec VP of football operations Vinny Cerrato and the impatience of Snyder in building the franchise through the draft and smart trades has led to a team of overpaid and underperforming players who talk a big game but consistently have nothing to show for it where it actually counts on the scoreboard.

Let's run through the list of awful free agent signings -- Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders, Mark Carrier, Adam Archuleta, Dana Stubblefield, Jeremiah Trotter, etc... And now Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall signed to astronomical contracts, and guess what ... underperforming.

Then there is the questionable decision to replace Joe Gibbs with an untested quarterbacks coach named Jim Zorn. His bizarre play calling is starting to reveal what a mistake that was.

And quarterback Jason Campbell has never been able to get the confidence he needs and the creativity a pro quarterback needs to make plays on the fly.

So, to all those disgruntled 'Skins fans who are furious at the organization after ending the Lions' 19-game losing streak -- there is hope in the District and it comes from a bunch of Cup-hungry young hockey players who are poised to bring a championship to Washington, D.C.

The Greenest NHL Arenas

  • Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:53 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Many NHL franchises and sports venues are getting on board the green bandwagon by taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

This trend encompasses all of professsional sports, as The New York Times noted in a recent article titled "Getting Sports Events to Go Green," which focused mostly on Major League Baseball's efforts to green the game. For example, the Boston Red Sox use solar panels to heat water at Fenway Park.

So what has hockey done to lessen waste and pollution when thousands of fans pack arenas across North America? One initiative is called NHL Green -- a partnership between the league and GreenLife with technical guidance from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The NHL will use this alliance to develop a league "Green Plan." But what are individual teams doing right now to reduce their carbon footprint?

Here are the greenest NHL arenas based on factors such as easy access to public transportation, energy efficiency, eco-friendly construction materials, recycling options and other environmentally friendly aspects.



Arena: Consol Energy Center
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
City: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Neighborhood: Downtown
The Stanley Cup champs are moving into a shiny new venue after waddling in the decrepit Mellon Arena -- the oldest and lowest capacity arena in the NHL. And what an arena it will be! The Consol Energy Center will not only help the Penguins in Pittsburgh, but the real penguins in the rapidly melting polar ice caps. When the arena opens for the 2010-11 season it aims to be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified NHL arena. The Consol Energy Center will feature a gigantic glass atrium facing downtown that will bring in more natural light, lots of green space around the building, environmentally friendly paints, alternative energy sources and locally purchased construction materials. Plus easy access to public transportation allows fans to take the subway or bus to the game instead of driving.





Arena: General Motors Place
Team: Vancouver Canucks
City: Vancouver, Canada
Neighborhood: Downtown
Vancouver aims to be the greenest host city ever when the 21st Winter Olympic Games head to British Columbia in February, 2010. In June of 2006 the Vancouver Organizing Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation announced that the hockey games would be played on NHL-sized rinks so there would be no environmental impact by expanding the ice size at GM Place (to be called Canada Hockey Place for the Olympics) and UBC Thunderbird Arena. GM Place is serviced by the SkyTrain "Stadium-Chinatown" station. SkyTrain is Vancouver's elevated rapid transit system.





Arena: Madison Square Garden
Team: New York Rangers
City: New York City, New York
Neighborhood: Chelsea
It's hard not to be green when garden is in your name and you are situated atop the busiest train station in North America -- Penn Station. Thus, "the world's most famous arena" makes the list for being so damn accessible without a car.





Arena: Pepsi Center
Team: Colorado Avalanche
City: Denver, Colorado
Neighborhood: Downtown
The Pepsi Center is not only retrofitting their building to make it more environmentally friendly, but also is taking the initiative to educate visitors about the importance of energy conservation. The arena teamed with Xcel Energy to launch a website with tips on how Colorado residents and businesses can save money and energy by going green. The Pepsi Center also features the Power Zone where kids and adults alike can play interactive trivia games, learn about wind and solar power, and more. The venue has also installed solar panels and designated hybrid-only parking spaces and a no-idling zone. The Pepsi Center is serviced by bus and Denver's light rail system. The closest station is Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens on the C and E lines.





Arena: Philips Arena
Team: Atlanta Thrashers
City: Atlanta, Georgia
Neighborhood: Downtown
The 2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak caused minor exterior damage to the Philips Arena. Since then it has been only good news. The arena not only survived the tornado but is thriving -- Pollstar recently named Philips Arena the No. 1 U.S. venue for the first half of 2009 and earlier this year the arena became the first existing NBA or NHL arena to achieve LEED certification. The arena is also served by mass transit. The Philips Arena/CNN Center subway stop is an easy walk to the venue.





Arena: Staples Center
Team: Los Angeles Kings
City: Los Angeles, California
Neighborhood: Downtown
The Staples Center makes the list simply for trying to get car-centric Angelenos out of their leased luxury SUVs and onto the subway to see a game. The L.A. Metro recently released the above video advertisement to encourage fans to take the Blue Line light rail to the Staples Center. The Kings offer ticket discounts to metro riders and the venue provides secure bike racks. Other green initiatives include a dynamic recycling program, low-energy lighting, green cleaning chemicals, waterfree urinals and 1,727 solar panels installed on its rooftop.





Arena: TD Garden
Team: Boston Bruins
City: Boston, Massachusetts
Neighborhood: Downtown North section
The future just got brighter for Boston and the planet because TD Garden recently installed an energy-saving LED lighting system that will light up the arena's exterior at night. According to the website GreenSportsVenues.com: "The project provides a 60% decrease in kilowatt consumption over the previous equipment." The lighting system also automatically shuts off at 2 a.m. to save energy. The lighting changes colors depending on the team playing, so for example when the Bruins hit the ice the color will be yellow. And to celebrate a victory the lights can even do the wave with special effects.





Arena: Verizon Center
Team: Washington Capitals
City: Washington, D.C.
Neighborhood: Gallery Place/Chinatown
The "Phone Booth" has turned Gallery Place/Chinatown into the hottest neighborhood in the nation's capital while doing its part to cool down the planet. When former Caps owner Abe Pollin decided to replace the U.S. Air Arena in Landover, Maryland he significantly reduced the carbon footprint by locating the new arena above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station -- making the arena easily accessible via subway for fans in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. The Verizon Center was also the first indoor venue to install a high-definition LED scoreboard. Light-emitting diodes are significantly more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Honorable Mentions:

Honda Center -- Anaheim Ducks
Large recycling program and locally grown produce used in restaurant.

Air Canada Centre -- Toronto Maple Leafs
Located next to Union Station so easy access to public transit.

Bell Centre -- Montreal Canadians
Located in the heart of downtown, the arena provides easy access to public transit.

Xcel Energy Center -- Minnesota Wild
Recycling program, green cleaning products, low-energy lighting, low-flow water in restrooms, bike racks and bus vouchers for employees, education zone display with info on renewable and alternative energy.

Prudential Center -- New Jersey Devils
The newest arena in the NHL is also one of the most accessible via public transit -- the facility is located two blocks from Newark Penn Station.

Ovechkin wins second straight MVP award

  • Thursday, June 18, 2009 3:47 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin added more hardware to his growing collection on Thursday night at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

The 23-year-old star won his second straight Hart trophy as the league's best player and the Pearson award as the most outstanding player in voting by fellow NHLPA members.

Ovechkin won the Hart by a large voting margin over Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk. The Russian was awarded 115 of 131 first-place tallies.

In nabbing the MVP trophy again this year, he became the first player to win back-to-backs since Dominik Hasek in 1997 and 1998 and the first forward since Wayne Gretzky, who snagged eight-straight Hart trophies from 1980-'87.

Other highlights from the Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort included Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas winning the Vezina as best netminder and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason being awarded the Calder trophy as rookie of the year.

In his acceptance speech, Ovechkin dedicated the award to the loyal Caps fans and said Washington is his favorite city right now (Ovechkin wasn't the only Washingtonian making hockey headlines today as President Barack Obama called Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma earlier in the day to congratulate the Penguins on winning the Stanley Cup).

"Next year, I hope [the] Stanley Cup will be ours," Ovechkin said to cheers from the Caps fans in attendance.

Here is the winners list (winners in bold):

HART MEMORIAL TROPHY (Most valuable player)

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

VEZINA TROPHY (best goaltender)

Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild

Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets

Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

JAMES NORRIS MEMORIAL TROPHY (best defenseman)

Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

Mike Green, Washington Capitals

Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings

CALDER MEMORIAL TROPHY (best rookie)

Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets

Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks

Kris Versteeg, Chicago Blackhawks

LADY BYNG MEMORIAL TROPHY (best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct)

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

FRANK J. SELKE TROPHY (best defensive forward)

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks

Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers

JACK ADAMS AWARD (best coach)

Claude Julien, Boston Bruins

Todd McLellan, San Jose Sharks

Andy Murray, St. Louis Blues

LESTER B. PEARSON AWARD (best player as voted by fellow NHLPA members)

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

MASTERTON TROPHY (player who best exemplifies the qualities of perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey)

Chris Chelios, Detroit Red Wings

Steve Sullivan, Nashville Predators

Richard Zednik, Florida Panthers