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Nats Have Tough Crowd to Please

Nats bigwigs, from left, Mark Lerner, Theodore Lerner, Stan Kasten, Robert Tanenbaum, Faye Fields and Rodney Slater were all smiles in 2006; will fans be happy this season?
Nats bigwigs, from left, Mark Lerner, Theodore Lerner, Stan Kasten, Robert Tanenbaum, Faye Fields and Rodney Slater were all smiles in 2006; will fans be happy this season? (By Michael Williamson -- The Washington Post)

My friend William Gildea, Georgetown class of '60, fondly remembers the play of Brian ("Puddy") Sheehan, "a great ballhandler and jump shooter" (15.9 points per game) from 1958 to 1961 and Jack Nies, who played from 1956 to '58 and moved on to the NBA, where he's in his 29th year of refereeing. "I played against Jack on the playgrounds of Jersey City," recalled Tagliabue. "He went to the NBA and I went to the NFL."

"Remind the commissioner I showed him around on his recruiting visit," Nies said. "That would have been about 15 years after freshman Danny Kraus helped the Hoyas reach the 1943 NCAA finals, where they lost to Wyoming. Kraus was expected to make the celebration.

Shootout Agony

Dainius Zubrus's overtime goal against Los Angeles on Thursday night kept the Washington Capitals from going to their eighth shootout of the season. Caps Coach Glen Hanlon should have offered Zubrus a special thank you for keeping his team out of another shootout. This season the Capitals have won just once in seven of them.

The shootout -- which appeals to many fans -- is a penalty-shot gimmick the NHL instituted last season to avoid ties. If the game is still tied at the end of a five-minute sudden-death overtime, each team has three of its players try to score on the goalie, one-on-one. If the result is not decided after those six players take their shots, the shootout continues. Teams get a point for moving into overtime; two for winning in overtime or the shootout.

"I'm a fan of the shootout," Hanlon said. "It adds to the entertainment of the game. We practice it a lot, but it's one thing to score in practice but quite another to do it when the game is on the line."

Hanlon knows what an additional four to six points would mean to the Caps in their long-shot playoff push. "We send our top guys out there," he said. Those top guys include Alex Ovechkin, who is just 1 of 7 in shootout competition this season. He was 6 for 13 last year.

"I watch the goalie, watch all his moves," said Ovechkin. "Then I have to make the decision when to shoot."

With that impish smile of his, Ovechkin added, "I'm thinking too much."

Finally

· I was just starting to get excited about the Nationwide Tour stop here. But after last week's announcement that the International -- which was to take place July 5-8 -- was canceled, the PGA Tour is taking another look at the Washington area to fill that hole in its 2007 schedule. If Congressional Country Club members offer their track to the PGA Tour for a year, I'd be surprised if the tournament isn't held there.

· The Wizards maintain that the widely circulated (blogs, whatever) three-point shooting contest last week in which Gilbert Arenas defeated DeShawn Stevenson was for "bragging rights" and not $20,000 as some have suggested. "I'm not making DeShawn pay," Arenas told Wizards public relations director Zach Bolno. Further reporting is required by this scribe.

· "Friday Night Lights" update: On the eve of the Texas high school playoffs, the Dillon Panthers seem coming apart from within after assistant coach Mac McGill made racially insensitive comments to two journalists. I haven't seen so much tension on a football team since Redskins offensive coordinator Al Saunders asked his running backs to start carrying those 700-page playbooks with them to meetings.

Have a comment or question? Reach me at talkback@washpost.com.


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