Scott Wilson during an incursion in Bet Lahia, Gaza Strip, after Israeli soldier Shalit's kidnapping. (Facebook, June 2006)

Scott Wilson takes notes in the Gaza Strip after an Israeli soldier's kidnapping in 2006 (via Facebook)

Two weeks have passed since Russian Machine Never Breaks implored President Obama to attend a Caps game and Barack The Red.  To say we’ve been floored by the reaction would be a total understatement. In the days since our plea, we’ve received nods from Puck Daddy, D.C. Sports Bog, On Frozen Blog, Homer McFanboy, DCist, LaVar Arrington, and even “Uncle” Ted Leonsis himself! Then, 1,244 people joined our Facebook Petition (join now if you haven’t yet),  including Japers Rink, Dmitry Chesnokov and the affable Caps Owner (yes, really)! But to be honest, we were all completely shocked last Friday afternoon, when Scott Wilson, White House Correspondent for The Washington Post, asked the President’s Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, for a response to our open letter.  Joke or not, my letter being read before the White House gaggle was the highlight of my career and a fitting testament to the obscene number of hours Blogadyte Ian Oland has put into site.

It turns out that Scott Wilson is actually a longtime hockey fan and was the perfect person to ask the question.  Scott knows hockey jerseys are “sweaters,” and he attributes his lack of a hockey career to his mother’s fear that he’d end up with Bobby Clarke’s gap-toothed grin.

Scott was kind enough to spare a few minutes with me amidst the chaos in D.C. of late. For a man that has covered disaster, war, and famine, I’d like to think that chatting about hockey for a few minutes was a welcome reprieve and not just a distraction.  For me, it was a lot bigger.

But how did our manifesto get read aloud in the press room of the White House? It only could have happened that Friday: “Robert Gibbs had to pay back his bet to his Canadian counterpart, so he wore the Canadian national team’s hockey sweater to the briefing,” said Wilson. After only a few moments of modeling the red maple leaf for the press corp, Gibbs swapped out for a U.S. jersey, thereby unknowingly inviting the question. After prefacing with a quote from out letter, Wilson asked Gibbs, “Will the President commit to going to a Washington Capitals game this season?”

The Press Secretary must have been in a decent mood that afternoon, as he took the question in good faith. “He took it in the spirit it was meant. I knew he wouldn’t give a firm commitment, but I did get a light, evasive, funny answer,” Wilson observed.

It’s the kind of back-and-forth you can only have at the end of the week, once all the serious business has already been addressed. Before tackling “Barack the Red”, Wilson had asked about the big-ticket items on the Obama agenda: the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision and pending Wall Street reform. And although we are obligated to mention politics insofar as they collide with hockey, political discourse is strongly discouraged here. (If the morlocks from The Pensblog wander over to RMNB again and  see us talking about medical malpractice tort reform, they’ll get dangerously confused.)

I asked Scott if he’d be willing to follow up with Press Secretary Gibbs about the President attending a game. “If the mood is right, and as we get closer to the playoffs, we’ll see,” was the firmest commitment I could get out of the professional journalist. He even rebuffed my attempted bribe, using a Russian Machine Never Breaks t-shirt as bait. “I could donate the t-shirt to charity maybe,” tactfully responded Wilson. Class act.

We all know President Obama is a big sports fan. “He says that SportsCenter on ESPN is his favorite show,” continued Wilson, “so I wouldn’t be surprised if you got him this year.” When pressed to quantify our chances, Scott went out on a limb.

“65/35. And those numbers go up if they go deep in the playoffs. The town will have Caps fever, and the President will want to plug into that.” Precisely. While we’d obviously prefer POTUS to grow a playoff beard and rock a Weagle necktie throughout the Spring, hopping on the bandwagon at Conference finals would be cool, too. In the end, we all want infinite glory for the home team.

My talk with Wilson ended with sage shifting of responsibility– off of the President and onto the team.  “More than anything, the Capitals’ success will determine [if the President comes].”

Alright, boys.  It’s all on you now.

  • madcap

    I say, hang it up with the BARACK THE RED campaign!!! He is not interested in hockey, even though we are the winningest team with the best shot for the championship in his town!! FORGET HIM!!!! NOBama is messing everything else in the US up, let him leave hockey alone!!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    And let the immature comments begin…

  • http://dcsportsfan.com Dedicated

    An interesting concept to consider – As this post mentions, the chances will go up as the Caps get deeper into the playoffs. Let’s say Barack comes out and says he’ll come if the Caps get to the Stanley Cup Finals… And then let’s say the Caps end up playing the Blackhawks in the Finals!!! Now that I would love to see. New guy in town Mr. President, originally the senator from Illinois, who will he choose? Hometown glory, or stay with his past?!

    As a huge fan of both the Caps and Barack Obama, I know which one I hope!!

  • Steve in Arlington

    I hope RMNB is planning something epic as a victory celebration if the prez does attend a game.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    Totally, Steve. But it’s our little secret. :)

  • Joe

    This is friggin’ stupid. I guarantee that 3/4 of the Caps crowd doesn’t want the hassle that an Obama Visit will bring. And we don’t need him to bring attention to the team. If he comes, I’ll boo my lungs out.

  • Steve in Arlington

    I was at the Georgetown/Duke basketball game he attended, I didn’t feel their was any additional hassle. Just the typical hassle that goes with several thousand bandwagon Duke fans arguing with each other who has been a die-hard fan the longest, and the slippery concourses wet with their tears after the Hoya’s gave them a schellacking.

  • OvieTracker

    Let’s give it up. Obama just isn’t into hockey, that should be pretty clear by now. And even if he was considering attending a Caps game, the ensuing security logistical nightmare could and probably would throw a giant wet towel on the heat of enthusiasm of the Verizon Center crowd. I would prefer Obama save his meeting with the Caps until after they win the Stanley Cup. Then they can get a parade and a White House visit. I’d love to see Ovie present Obama with an Ovechkin jersey!

  • Red Army Soldier #1337

    I beg to differ with the nay sayers. having had to deal with the security of an Obama attended event, and also having worked an event of the similar, I can say that we will most likely see someone other than CSC running security, or rather, not their 4th string security teams.

    Who caress if the man isn’t into hockey! neither were a lot of other fans recently! its infectious, the atmosphere, the people, everything.

    instead of grumbling, lets make him a fan.