On Saturday, several Washington Capitals players rented out Kettler Capitals IcePlex to scrimmage against local college kids. Two readers who attended, Lexi Martinez and Kate Hudson, share their experience below. Lexi did the write-up, and Kate snapped the photos. Enjoy!

Caps fans got a surprise Thursday night, when John Carlson took to Twitter to announce that he’d be joining a few teammates back on the ice at Kettler the following morning for something special. Along with Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Jeff Halpern, and former Capital Peter Bondra, John would be scrimmaging a team of college players from around the area. It was thrown together late and all for fun, but for me, it meant a little taste of the Caps hockey we’ve all been missing so much. Naturally, I was freaking out.

Friday was rainy. I woke up the earliest I had since high school. It was also the day that the Maya had predicted would be the end of the world (a little disappointed I’m not going all Walking Dead on zombies right now, but I digress). I thought about chucking my alarm clock across the room and returning to my comforter cave. But then the guilt hit me. What kind of fan would I be if I slept away a rare glimpse at my boys back in action? Ugh, I’m so dedicated, I swear I should get some sort of award. But whatever.

There was something comforting about being back against the glass watching part of the team, even if they were preparing to toss a puck around with a couple kids instead of getting ready to face a division rival. Jerseys dotted the stands, little kids climbed over each other in oversized Caps t-shirts, pre-teen female fans primped their hair in their front-facing iPhone cameras in anticipation of the autograph signing that was to come. It had all the makings of a great day at Kettler, but, something was off. There wasn’t the buzz that comes from regular season practice. There’s just something missing from the air with guys like Ovi and Backstrom on the other side of the planet. As the scrimmage progressed, the already dull crowd began to thin out. The kids got bored and quieted down. The cameras stopped clicking and flashing as there wasn’t much to photograph. The greatest Kodak moment was when Jason Chimera tripped and fell to the ice. He just kind of gave up and laid there. I know that feeling, Chimmer.

Credit has to be given on the boys on the ice, though. At this point, they’re technically unemployed. They pay for their own parking, rent out the ice with their own money. They’re not allowed in the private locker rooms they’ve been using for years. They get their own skates sharpened, their own equipment replaced; THEY WASH THEIR OWN HAIR. THE MADNESS. They don’t have to do things like this for the fans, but they do, because they care about giving us the hockey we miss. Their jerseys sport the NHLPA logo, with #THEPLAYERS on the back where their last names used to be. They’re not playing for the name on the back, or the name on the front (yes that was a cliché Miracle reference, sue me), but in the name of hockey; in the name of the game and the fans that are suffering without a season.

It’s obvious that fans’ patience with league negotiations is wearing thin. It’s getting harder to find interest in anything hockey related when we feel so betrayed by the league itself. We can, though, rely on our boys to try to give us a little something to hold on to. They’re still on the ice, and even if we find ourselves daydreaming about goal horns and the roar of the Verizon Center that we once had, we’re still watching.

Photos via Kate Hudson

Kate’s signed iPhone.

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  • Fantastic wish I would have known, saw a high school game last night. It was cool, kids giving their all for the love of the game. It’s a shame the best sport is on, well ice for lack of better words.

  • Ash

    Carlson’s hair is getting seriously epic.

  • CDizz

    Really well written – made me laugh quite a few times.