Mike Green autographs a baby at last year’s Caps Con. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
The state of the Washington Capitals fan base is strong. Just this past weekend hundreds assembled for the team’s annual summer Fanfest, packing Kettler Capitals Iceplex on a July morning to watch to watch of bunch of teenagers and early 20-somethings play the final scrimmage of the team’s Development Camp. And while the Fanfest has become a big hit, the gathering many DC hockey fans eagerly await is the Capitals Convention, held during every pre-season for the past three years. Since its inception in 2009, Caps Con has grown into a huge event, with over 6,500 people making their way to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center a couple blocks away from Verizon Center last year. The event features panels with many Caps and NHL luminaries, autograph signings and over hockey-themed activities. But this year, however, Caps Con will not take place.
Though the news was expected (the team’s Mike Vogel relayed the info to a fan on Twitter last week), the club officially announced Monday that this year’s Convention has been cancelled, a product of the ambiguity of the CBA negations between the players union and the league. In the event that no new CBA has been agreed upon by the September 15 deadline the owners would likely lock the players out, baring them for using their facilities and participating in team events like Caps Con. Even if a new CBA is agreed upon by September — something many people don’t expect to happen — the financial risk of possibly having to cancel the Convention at the last minute would have been great. While the team’s decision makes sense, this is bad news for Caps fans. There will be no Alex Ovechkin autographs. There will be no baby stories from Brooks Laich’s mom. There will be on Braden Holtby playing street hockey with little kids. And there will be no Karl Alzner tales about how a fan asked him to sign a whip.
Here’s never-before-seen video from the 2011 Caps Convention where Jay Beagle and Braden Holtby try to teach a 2-year-old how to play street hockey and well… you’ll see.