Photo by our very own Kyle Mace.
Saturday’s Caps Convention featured appearances from all sorts of celebrities in the Caps universe. Neil Greenberg’s photos testify to that. But there’s all kinds of gritty, street-level stories that the plutocratic inner circle of RMNB could not see from our rarefied heights. That’s why we asked you, the huddled masses, to share your experiences. Thanks for your participation, everyone. Your fictional check is in the fake mail.
Follow us past the jump to get the scoop on: D.J. King’s prize fighting techniques, Caps vs. kids, Semin vs. Ovie in a giant vat of pudding (Yeah, I dunno either), Mike Green’s chivalry, Alzner’s short shorts, Rachel Cohen’s superb Ovie poster, Neuvi bored, and a heckuva lot more.
Kids Presser: “What do you like most about Bradley?” Video, submitted by Meredith J.
Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault play with kids, submitted by @itallfallsdwn
CapsCon featured much of the usual: panels, autograph signings, merchandise sales, 12-year old girls asking for Brooks Laich’s phone number, screaming girls chasing Ovechkin while Nate Ewell played his harried bodyguard. One of the more, say, endearing things we came across was Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault playing “street” hockey with a bunch of kids for well over a half an hour. (One might say it would have been difficult to tell Perreault from the actual kids playing, but it was pretty easy, as he clearly had more hair than them.) One of the things that stuck out to me, at least, was how even when playing with kids half their age (well, mostly), the two centers retained their on-ice habits. Perreault was running around, heckling the kids to shoot, high-fiving when his team scored a goal, harassing the goalies, flirting with the (adult) females … Johansson, on the other hand, maintained the calm demeanor that is apparently genetically coded into all Swedes, pitched in when necessary, and encouraged the kids. Some of the kids were actually fairly good; the goalie on the right side stonewalled Matty and his team a few times, which apparently led to Matty booing in his face. I particularly enjoyed the kid who relentlessly stick-tapped if he didn’t have the puck, which likely reminded Matty of his long-lost French Canadian soulmate, Francois Bouchard. Both Matty and Marcus seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves — as Matty’s goal celebrations can attest to — and hopefully the kids did as well. Thanks to those two for spending so much time playing hockey with the kids, and for being classy guys.
D.J. King and the art of single combat, video submitted by Meredith J.
Report by Bridget, @ikeastan
Caps Con, the crowning jewel of Hocktoberfest, arrived on the perfect weekend this year: fresh off five straight preseason wins, the players and the fans were all in great spirits. For me, apart from getting to meet some of my favorite Caps, the panels were definitely among the highlights of the day. Some things were to be expected–approximately five hundred jokes at Sidney Crosby’s expense, and Ovi taking the lord’s name in vain within the first five minutes of the Kids’ Press Conference–but others came as welcome surprises.
For example, Eric Fehr’s favorite animal is the giraffe, because it reminds him of Jeff Schultz. Also, if Ovi could fight anyone in the league, it would be Semin. I hope I’m not alone in thinking that this needs to happen now, on videotape, in a giant vat of pudding [Ed. note- If this happens, RMNB wants the exclusive].
In the Standing Up for Your Team panel, D.J. King’s encyclopedic knowledge of NHL opponents’ fighting styles was truly impressive. Coming to America was probably my favorite, though, with Fleischmann and Varlamov’s hilarious personalities really shining through while Backstrom flirted with ladies of all ages, and Arturs Irbe gave extremely thoughtful, articulate responses to questions about everything from international hockey to where to find good Latvian food in D.C. (answer: knock on a Latvian’s door around dinnertime). Plus, Arturs revealed that he used to be addicted to Spongebob, which in itself was worth the price of admission.
The vendors and giveaways were also neat, particularly since I managed to score a life-sized Ovi poster which, posted appropriately in front of a window, will surely scare away any intruders. All in all, it was a great day to be a Caps fan and one that made anticipation for the coming season all the sweeter.
I was seriously giddy and nervous all day. I hardly ate anything, and I had to drink a Sprite a few hours before photo time to settle my stomach. After getting signatures from Brads and Johansson, I went to check in with my friends Dave and Stacey. A woman came up to us and asked if we’d like her wristbands. We gladly took them, and I went to get Chim and B. Gordon’s signature with Stacey while Dave went off to get one from Greener. Stacey and I whipped through our line and went to go see Dave get his jersey signed. Of course, when he went up, he told Green that his girlfriend in the white knit hat (me!) was about to get her picture with him and asked if we would he wave or something to freak me out. Embarrassed, I tried to hide, but Stacey pointed right above my head. Green gave a little wave from the table. So now I was even MORE nervous standing in line for my photo, but when I stepped up onto the platform Green smiled and said, “Nice to meet you,” and shook my hand. The picture turned out perfect. Right before I left, Green said, “I was supposed to wave at you,” and I had my official geek out moment. I quickly said something intelligent like, “You did! I saw it!” and rushed off the platform. Totally perfect day :oD
Dave very rarely splurges to spend money on himself, so when I saw that Kolzig was going to be at the convention, I was determined to buy him a photo ticket whether he liked it or not-and I did ;o) Olie is one of his favorite goaltenders and an icon, so I may have been more excited than he was, but I wanted Dave to have a special moment at the Convention, too, since Stacey and I were getting our photos taken with our loverboys. This is one of the few pictures I’ve ever seen Dave smile in and I seriously think it was just the magic of Olie the Goalie. Seeing my goaltender up there next to one of DC’s greats was something I’ll definitely never forget, especially since Olie was nice enough to sign Dave’s jersey as well!
After getting Elyssa through her photo with Green, it was my turn to start really getting excited. Brooks had eluded me so far that day, but he was signing autographs right before the photos, so I stood and watched him at the table until he walked right past me in line. Elyssa stood off to the side taking pictures on my camera as I moved forward in line and as I walked up Brooks gave a little grin and said, “Hey, I know that hat. It looks nice.” Just like Elyssa with Green, I was a bit starstruck, but managed a “Yea, thanks!” as I walked off stage. I swear I could die a happy woman after that 30-second moment with him!
Majority owner, Ted Leonsis, addresses the crowd at the start of Caps Convention.
Andrew Gordon and Karl Alzner’s short-shorts playing hockey.
Andrew Gordon demonstrates excessive celebration after scoring on a 6-year old. Also, Alzner’s shorts.
Eavesdropping on Alex Semin’s phone call, featuring fluent English that gets quieter the nearer you get.
Stalking Nick Backstrom like it’s my job! Which it’s not. But security staff does carry photos of me around.
Ovi is all smiles. Until he finds you digging through his garbage can at 5 am in the morning.
Ovi signs autographs, while Perry doodles Led Zeppelin logos on his Trapper Keeper.
The day could be described as “exhausting,” “amazing,” and perhaps even “holy -crap-I- can’t- believe- this- is- happening- to- me.” I arrived at the Washington Convention Center Saturday morning with my family, having no idea what the day had in store. As soon as I walked through the convention entrance, lights flashing and Guns N’ Roses’s “Welcome to the Jungle” blasting, my face lit up, and that smile never left my face.
After hearing Ted Leonsis welcome the crowd, the majority of the morning was spent just walking around, exploring the convention floor. There were all sorts of different displays set up. One of the largest was on the Original Six teams of the NHL: ranging from modern‐day equipment to goalie pads that looked twice as old as I am! Another display was a locker‐room setup featuring the equipment of several Caps superstars, and the organ that plays during games. There was also a place where you could take your photo on a Zamboni and play games like a slap‐shot challenge and street hockey.
After the Winter Classic uniform unveiling, I had to leave the main stage area very quickly since I had a ticket to take a photo with Semyon Varlamov! Meeting Varly face‐to‐face was so cool. We shook hands, exchanged hellos, and after the photo, told each other to have a great day. His English has gotten quite good, he’s learning very fast. I was also taking a photo with Olie Kolzig later, so to pass the time, I went over to the street hockey area to watch the kids play. Shortly after I got there, I heard a very familiar voice ask us something (I can’t remember what). Standing right behind me was Coach Bruce Boudreau!!! It was such an unexpected and awesome surprise. We talked for a couple minutes, shook hands, and snapped a quick photo before I had to go get in line to meet with Olie Kolzig.
Seeing Olie in a Caps jersey again was one of the best things I saw all day. Godzilla was the player that got me into watching the Caps and hockey when I was younger. When he left to Tampa, I was devastated. Seeing him in Caps colours, back here in DC, and talking about how he will always consider himself a Capital for life brought joy to my heart.
The autograph session I had been designated for was soon after. They don’t announce what players are signing where until 20 minutes before the session starts; it’s a mystery until then. When they put the names up on the board, it took two letters to realize who was going to be at my session. Those letters: O‐V. My reaction: RUN, RUN TO THE LINE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. So I did (though with the crowd’s pace, it was more like a power‐walk).
I’m an illustrator who loves to draw signs for Caps games, so the item I had for Ovi to sign was my sign for this year: a comic‐book style interpretation of Alex as “The Russian Machine.” I was nervous the whole time I stood in line. What would Ovi think of my drawing? Would he like it? Would he not care? Would he say anything? That hour felt like days. Finally, it was my turn to go meet The Great 8. I carefully placed my sign on the table, saying hello and telling Ovi I drew that picture myself. His response? He gives me his signature with a wide grin and says, “It’s very nice.” I left that autograph table ecstatic beyond imagination.
My day ended with the blogger’s panel, hosted by the guys who run Japer’s Rink, On Frozen Blog, and Off‐Wing Opinion. It was very interesting hearing them talk about how blogging has gotten so large, running a blog, and how hockey benefits from bloggers. I learned a lot from them, it was a great panel (plus the RMNB shout‐out from On Frozen Blog was quite awesome , too).
Caps Con 2010 is a day I won’t forget. Like I stated before, words can’t really describe everything I felt that day. But if I had to just choose two words, I’d take them right from the mouth of the Russian Machine himself: “Very Nice.”
Photos by Dennis Kan
If there were to be one word that encompasses Caps Con, it would be magical. Simply magical. Where to start?
The Winter Classic throwback jersey is so much nicer than I assumed it to be. It looks pretty sick compared to the horrific powder blue they have in Pittsburgh.
The panel discussions were riveting and sometimes hilarious, and I so luckily scored front-and-center seats as to awkwardly catch eye contact with the players when they looked bored (namely Neuvirth, who resorted to peeling the label off his water bottle & checked out mentally after the first five minutes). The beloved Andrew Gordon also made mention of Ian Oland and RMNB after prompted by an audience member; although he said he may hold off on contributing to any more entries until playoffs citing something around the lines of, no one wants to hear about a Tuesday. Lies. We totally do. Neuvy, Alzner, and Gordo also discussed the high emotions post-win for the Calder Cup and Gabby had to call them out on how low-key they made it sound. Considering they were in Canada and all were of legal drinking age, it’s safe to assume that it was a party none of us can compare and none of them remember.
It wasn’t all just eye candy, I did get some fantastic tips and ideas on hockey pranks from Steckle (Green hardly contributed, it’s safe to say he isn’t one of the best pranksters) and Brett Leonhardt definitely wins best panel interviewer award- he’s actually funny. My autograph pass scored me a meet with Brads & Johansson (Mojo) although Bradley couldn’t have written anything more endearing than what is on Peter Hassett’s jersey. I did, however, make a joke about the somewhat unusual spelling of my name and said “thank you” in Swedish to Mojo. Again, my awkwardness probably got the best of me. It was simply overwhelming to be in a place I can only describe as hockey utopia.
It was seven straight hours of geeking out, but the best part probably had to be a completely unmonitored and very shiny Calder Cup just begging for love; if it didn’t weigh 30lbs I probably would have made a decent effort to jack it from the Convention center. I mean, it was just sitting there in all of its gorgeous Hershey glory.
The Caps Convention was like Christmas: if your family consisted of thousands of Capitals fanatics.
I arrived at the convention entrance on the dot of 10:00 am (a little later than I’d intended because of the vagaries of the Metro) and went directly to the Ask the GM panel room to take a seat in one of the front rows. This panel consisted simply George McPhee answering questions from moderator Nate Ewell and various audience members. The GM was charming, warm, smiling, and — most surprisingly — candid. (He was rarely evasive, and only once did he refuse to answer a question outright, explaining that the league had advised team personnel not to discuss the topic.)
After that panel I had some time to see the main hall, which seemed mostly to consist of lines — people waiting for photos, for games, for food.… Moving to the convention center enabled the organizers to improve on last year’s event, but there were still some glitches — notably a lack of soundproofing between the two panel rooms, and a failure to separate and identify the queues that snaked throughout the main hall. I got away from the lines to watch the unveiling of the Winter Classic sweater, and then I spent a bit of time in the shop deciding which Winter-Classic-themed item I should buy.
The first part of my day seemed to consist of always being wherever Caps players weren’t — which was honestly OK with me. I did find them eventually, though. The highlight of the day for me was the Calder Cup Champions panel featuring RMNB favorite Andrew Gordon alongside Karl Alzner, Michal Neuvirth, and Bruce Boudreau. Though more willing to share his thoughts than in 2009, Neuvirth was still far quieter than any of the other guys at that table. There was a lot of entertaining back-and-forth between the players, when asked about some of the challenges of AHL travel, and the coach, who called them “soft” in comparison with his minor-league days. “You ride in a sleeper bus,” Boudreau said. “We had whisky, and cards, and that was it!”
I ended my day at the very fun Locker Room Stories panel, a.k.a. the “Make Fun of Matt Bradley While He’s Not Here to Defend Himself” session. I had honestly hoped that long-tenured trainer Greg Smith would be more talkative, but I still enjoyed hearing the stories from Mike Green and Dave Steckel — egged on by moderator Brett Leonhardt.
For the most part the convention ran smoothly, sessions were entertaining and informative (or at least one of the two), and everyone was in a good mood. My overall impression is not just how much I appreciate this team’s management and players, but also how much I appreciate my fellow fans. No matter where I found myself, the person next to me was happy to strike up a friendly conversation about our shared love for the Caps — or, really, anything at all. I knew that we’re the best fans in the league, but I didn’t necessarily expect to find proof in such a big and occasionally chaotic crowd.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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