The Capitals were originally scheduled to host the Anaheim Ducks on Friday at 7 p.m. The game was moved up to 5 p.m. before the NHL postponed it indefinitely just a few hours before the puck dropped. The Wizards were slated to face the Utah Jazz on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and were notified during practice Friday that the NBA had postponed the contest. Makeup dates for both games have not been announced.
The Capitals’ game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, slated for a 12:30 p.m. start, will depend on whether the Penguins can travel to Washington after their 12:30 p.m. home game Saturday. The NHL will announce a decision on the game Saturday morning and is expected to postpone the contest.
Earlier Friday, Chris T. Geldart, the director of the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, implored the Wizards and Capitals to postpone games scheduled for the weekend.
“We talked to all of these organizations, and we told them, ‘We are telling our residents, the folks here in the city, to be off the streets by 3 o’clock,’ ” Geldart said. “If the Capitals decide to bring their players in and put them in danger like that, then the other folks do the same, I cannot tell the NHL or the NBA what to do. . . . But I would highly encourage them, do not have those games.”
Both postponements will cause rescheduling headaches because both visitors are Western Conference teams in their respective leagues. Further complicating the situation, Verizon Center hosts not only the Capitals and Wizards, but also the Georgetown men’s basketball team as well as concerts and other events, so the leagues will have to find a day that works for both teams when the arena is not occupied.
That’s likely why the NHL’s decision came just three hours before the puck was scheduled to drop, with the Ducks and many employees already in the building. The Ducks, who were in Washington on Friday, are scheduled to play in Detroit on Saturday night, assuming their flight left Dulles International Airport on Friday night. They conclude their road trip Tuesday in Boston and return to the East Coast twice more this season. NHL teams can’t play three games in three nights, and the collective bargaining agreement also mandates a certain number of days off every month.
The Jazz will return to the East Coast just once more this season. After hosting the Nets on Feb. 27, Utah is scheduled to travel to Boston on Feb. 29 to play the Celtics and then to Toronto to face the Raptors on March 2. They would complete the four-game road trip with stops in Memphis and New Orleans on March 4 and 5.
As a result, the Jazz would probably have to squeeze in a trip back east for just one game in Washington, which is rare for teams two time zones apart, and either or both teams may need to play games on back-to-back-to-back nights — a scenario the NBA no longer allows in its original scheduling — to accommodate a rescheduled meeting. The Jazz is set to host the Wizards in Utah on March 11.
The last time a Wizards home game was postponed was a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 7, 2010, also because of severe winter weather conditions. The Wizards were stuck in Orlando for two extra nights, and the Hawks also didn’t make it to Washington on time. The game was rescheduled.
If Saturday’s game were to have gone on as scheduled, Wizards players and staff members would have stayed in a downtown hotel Friday night. Washington is next scheduled to play Monday at home against the Celtics, and Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said he wasn’t sure whether the team will practice Sunday. Regardless, he views having at least one additional day off as a positive given the injury troubles that have plagued the Wizards.
“It actually probably helps us in terms of another day getting guys healthy,” Wittman said. “It probably helps guys that are nicked up. [John Wall is] nicked up a bit. Brad [Beal] is coming back from his thing, so it’s not another day of pounding for him. So that’s how I look at it.”