The worst is over for Mathew Blades. The Minnesota native and host of Z104's "Mathew Blades Radio Program," which airs weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., survived a winter without the NHL. Barely.

How is life different without the Caps?

My wife sees more of me, which is great. But personally, it just makes me sad. Really, honest to God, I feel like there's something that's not right in my life right now.

Are you still depressed?

I would say it's not clinical, but it's close.

So was it hard for you to get out of bed in the morning after the season was canceled?

I won't say that I called in sick to work, but I definitely was walking around in a daze, wondering exactly when this thing was going to come together. And every time it got close, it was like getting to the top of the roller coaster and then being told you have to go back down.

When did you start playing hockey?

I've been playing since I was 4 years old, so 26 years. I used to be good in high school, but after high school I quit and got into radio so that screwed my chances. I won the Dr Pepper Award when I was 8 years old -- this award you get for being the most outstanding defensive player in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

Coon Rapids?

You know it. That's where all the legends are born, dude.

And was that the career highlight?

Aside from that, we lived in St. Louis for a few years and I made the starting varsity hockey team my freshman year of high school. That was big. But we lost the state championship. It wasn't my fault. Well, it probably was, I wasn't big enough to play, I shouldn't have been there. I entered high school 6 foot 2 and 155 pounds soaking wet.

Have your skills eroded?

Yup. Everything in my brain still works but my body doesn't. Just last week I was playing up at Cabin John, and I went to try something that I used to be able to do in high school and fell down. Now I have a bruise on my right knee and on my left elbow.

What was the move?

Skating in, taking my right skate and kicking the puck behind my left foot and taking a backhand to put it in the net. I just tripped, fell flat on my face. I looked like a moron. These kids are out there in high school, so good, and here's the 31-year-old man who's still trying to be 21.

How big was the announcement that the Frozen Four is coming to D.C.?

You know what it's going to do, it's going to give people a chance to go watch people who want to play, who aren't going to sit out and cry because they're making 10 million dollars.

Sounds like you still have some bitterness.

Oh yeah, I'm very bitter. What makes me so mad is it's such a small percentile who ruin it for everybody. There's a lot of kids who want to put on a jersey and skates and go play every night, and they can't because some bonehead who's making 10 million a year thinks that might not be enough money for him.

You guys already have the Nats, but if Z104 got the Caps games would you be interested in doing commentary?

Oh, are you kidding me? If we get hockey I'm quitting the morning show and moving to the hockey booth instantly. Move out Steve Kolbe or whatever. Morning show radio is over and I'm moving to hockey full-time.

-- Dan Steinberg