- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2000

They have a different set of priorities in Pittsburgh.

The Caps and the NHL come after dancing, professional wrestling, arts and crafts shows, antique shows, bingo games, the circus, the bearded lady and finger painting exhibitions.

These are the Stanley Cup playoffs, right? Now you know why Lord goes with Stanley. It goes back to the time Stanley couldn't get into a building because of a bridge party. He said, "Lord." It stuck.

You've heard of scheduling conflicts. Now you've heard all of them, with Burn the Floor in Mellon Arena.

Burn the Floor probably is related to Burn it Down. The latter fits Washington's mood.

Burn the Floor today, gone tomorrow on account of poor ticket sales.

The Caps are easy. They give away Game 2. They gave away Game 1 last night.

Most teams prefer to take it one opponent at a time. The Caps are taking it two opponents at a time: the Penguins and Burn the Floor.

The Caps are the first NHL team required to negotiate their home-ice advantage. They were given the option of playing under a full moon at home on Thursdays and Fridays, but only with the approval of ABC-TV, and at 3 o'clock in the morning if the French-speaking residents of Quebec did not object.

The Caps went to a lot of trouble this season, only to be bumped in the end by Burn the Floor.

So that is how it works in Pittsburgh.

When the going gets tough, they Burn the Floor. Then they cancel it.

Seriously, the Caps did a lot of impressive lifting in an 82-game regular season that stretches back to Oct. 2.

They recovered from a poor start to finish with the second-best record in franchise history. They allowed the fewest goals in franchise history in a non-strike season. They did everything they were supposed to do, except check with the general manager of the arena in Pittsburgh.

They will have to work on that in the offseason. They can lift weights three days a week, skate three days a week and check with the general manager of the arena in Pittsburgh on the other day.

They don't have that problem in the NBA. Michael Jordan never had to check with the general manager of the arena in Pittsburgh when he was with the Bulls. If you had told Jordan to work on his phone calls to the general manager of the arena in Pittsburgh, he would have looked at you as if you were Dennis Rodman.

By the way, if playing Game 2 on the road is no big deal, how come the other teams with home-ice advantage did not campaign to have a Burn the Floor exemption?

Maybe playing Game 2 on the road is no big deal if you do not surrender three goals in the first 11:26 in Game 1.

Identity check: Who was that masked man in the net, Oliver Hardy or Olie Kolzig?

The Caps received a pat on the back one day and then the back of a hand the next day.

Behind owner Ted Leonsis, who leads the NHL in e-mail, the Caps are in a hurry to craft a new image.

The Caps used to play golf in the spring. Now they play chess.

The Caps used to be the best team in the NHL in December and one of the worst teams by April. Now they have the best record in the NHL since Jan. 1.

The Caps used to be a psychological wreck in the postseason. Now they point to their appearance in the Stanley Cup finals two years ago.

The Caps have bonded with their fans. At least one woman removed her jersey and handed it to Leonsis.

You usually have to go to Beltsville, Md., to see a woman make this "constitutionally protected expression."

The Caps give the shirts off their backs, too. They have no choice. They don't have Jaromir Jagr.

The Penguins are not supposed to be here. They are not supposed to be in Pittsburgh either. Their shopping cart was all packed and ready to be pushed to the next city until Mario Lemieux donned his back brace, tights and cape and flashed his credit card.

But that is Pittsburgh. It is different there. They Mop the Floor and call it an event.

Zamfir, the master of the pan flute, probably could sell out a month's worth of dates there.

Where would that leave the Caps and the NHL then?

Either Breezewood, Pa., or Wheeling, W.Va.

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