Rookie Camp - Day 3: Pretty Colors Edition

In case you were wondering whether I have anything better to do during my vacation than travel out to Ballston to attend Day 3 of the Caps' rookie camp, the answer, obviously, is no. I made the trek out there once again today and once again I was treated to, well, a bunch of young hockey players skating around (I swear it's not as exciting as it sounds). This time around, it was even more difficult to get a read on whether any particular players were really sticking around as, unlike Saturday, nobody had their names on their backs. They were nice enough, however, to color code themselves, which didn't actually help, but was at least a little more interesting visually. Which gave me something to do, as I tried to obtain photographic evidence of all seven colors. Ultimately, I missed only the burgundy duds:





Red and White

If I had to pick one player who particularly impressed me, I'd go with Andrew Joudrey, who had an impressive moment towards the end of practice when, during an offensive zone drill, he took the puck from the bottom of the left circle, curled around three other players to the top of the slot and then sent a backhand shot over Daren Machesney's outstretched leg and into the net.

The more interesting part of the day, though, was watching the guys from the big club skate after the rookies were done. Specifically, it was fun to watch Olie Kolzig. Having never really attended a Caps practice before, I've only ever heard the well-spoken, made-for-TV Olie, so it was a little bit odd to hear him in practice sounding, well, more like a sailor than a hockey player. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Towards the end of the team skate, as the guys were having a somewhat loose scrimmage that had less defense than a typical NHL All Star Game, Olie, after getting scored on for maybe the third or fourth time, started into a profanity-laced tirade. His complaint (and I'm paraphrasing here, attempting to translate it into a more family-friendly version) was that the scrimmage was basically a waste of time as a result of guys not taking it seriously. He urged his teammates to "pick up the... pace".

The amazing thing was the seemingly instant change in the atmosphere. What had been a light-hearted game of shinny suddenly turned into a hard-fought battle. As hard-fought as an informal pre-training camp skate can be, anyway. It is one thing to hear the players talk about how much of a team leader Olie Kolzig is, and another to see them play at a higher level when he is on the ice as opposed to Brent Johnson of Frederic Cassivi. But it is another thing altogether to witness it in person. It was a moment that made me appreciate Olie's presence on the team that much more.

On a more light-hearted note, I am convinced that David Steckel is trying to kill me. It wasn't enough that he "accidentally" fired a puck directly towards my head (thank goodness for plexiglass), he then had the audacity to flip a puck up over the netting that hit me in the shin. Not only that, but he managed to do it at a moment when I was looking away from the ice, leaving me with absolutely no proof whatsoever that he was the one who shot it. He who laughs last, laughs loudest though, and my revenge is, as always, swift and severe. Dave Steckel, congratulations, you are the newest KHFC Whipping Boy©.

The grisly results of Dave Steckel's viscious attempt on my life.

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