Caps columns and The Washington Post

My dear editor Lindsay passed along John Feinstein’s latest blog item, about hockey and sports fans and Caps coverage in The Post, and suggested it might make for a fun blog item. Here’s the most relevant passage, although the whole thing is fairly relevant:

When I was a young pup reporter at The Washington Post, the two columnists were Ken Denlinger and Dave Kindred. Both were superb at what they did, smart, reasoned and educated men who were devoted to their craft and — luckily for me — to mentoring those who were trying to learn that craft.

The exception to all of this was hockey.

“A bunch of fast breaks on skates with hundreds of turnovers,” was the way Kindred described it once.

This was shortly after Denlinger had walked into the newsroom one morning and proudly announced: “I have built an insurmountable 1-0 lead on Kindred in hockey columns for this season.” He wasn’t kidding. He wasn’t wrong either.

When I started this blog, I used to regularly read and hear complaints that The Post didn’t cover hockey adequately. I don’t hear them so much anymore, in part no doubt because we’ve ramped up our coverage, and in part no doubt because there are so many more outlets now devoted to covering the team, both mainstream, mostly sort-of-mainstream, and run by ferrets.

But there are still some people — most of whom don’t read my blog — who believe The Post Sports section, and especially its columnists, can help set the agenda for what is and isn’t important in this town. Feinstein, I would bet, is one of those people. More from his latest:

Any minute now Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is going to declare for the 1,000th time that the Wizards (29-53 this season for those scoring at home) are ‘headed in the right direction.’ The Redskins will draft someone on Friday with the 51st pick in the draft and that will take up three pages in the sports section. And the Nationals, Washington’s newly adopted team (now that they’re winning) are only about five months removed from clinching a division title. Of course the Caps are big news in Washington too. They get a lot of space in the newspaper. And all 19,000 of us who care read every word.

Anyhow, for the three or four people who do keep track of such things and also read my blog, I went back and counted up all the headlines produced by our six primary Sports columnists since Jan. 1, which was around the time that hockey returned. I’m counting the columns of Boswell, Feinstein, Hamilton, Jenkins, Reid and Wise. Here are the standings:

College basketball – 49

Nats – 31

Redskins – 23

General NFL – 16

Caps – 15

Wizards – 12

General MLB – 4

General NBA – 4

General NHL – 1

Other – 31

College basketball is obviously far over-represented, but that’s a function of the time of year. We’ve probably gone a bit overboard with the Nats, too, but that’s largely a function of a certain someone who wrote 22 Nats columns. Based on reader interest, there should probably have been even more Redskins columns, especially since a few of the 23 mentioned above were about the team name and not the actual team.

As for the matter at hand? The Caps have been the most successful D.C. team of the past half-decade, crammed an entire regular season into the past four months, and have had one of the most bizarre, storyline-rich and tumultuous campaigns in the NHL as they surged from last place, made a major trade-deadline splash and sprinted across the finish line.

So yeah, they probably deserve a few more columns from a few more columnists than they’ve received.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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