In spite of his reputation as a reckless gambler, Alex Ovechkin was very focused. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
[Ed. Note: We already brought you tons of photos of Caps players looking ridiculous as they dropped fake money at table games during the team’s annual Casino Night. But what about the fan perspective on the event? For that, we naturally turned to the guys that bought red spandex tuxedos on Amazon, the Brouwer Rangers. I’ll let Ranger Nathan take it away.]
Waking up on the morning of your first Caps Casino Night is like waking up on Christmas morning. Except you don’t get to open presents until after you’ve spent the whole day at work. And you have to wear a suit, not pajamas. Also you pay for all your own presents.
Nevertheless, we awake with great anticipation, and spend much of the day preparing. Ranger Nathan starts researching table games as soon as he arrives at work. Hoping to have a chance to show off some James Bond-level expertise, Ranger Nathan does a quick Google search but ends up just watching a lot of Burt Bacharach videos.
Lots of boring work stuff happens before we rendezvous at Ranger Ryan’s house to get ready. Finally, we arrive at the hotel. As a group of fans piles into the elevator in the parking garage, Mikhail Grabovski and his wife step through the door. Nobody acknowledges them. It’s weird. Though we all recognize him, no one wants to be the first goober to say, “Oh hey you’re Mikhail Grabovski!” Instead, we just do that head nod “what’s up” thing and stand there silently for the whole elevator ride pretending like this scenario is totally normal. Four floors of awkward agony.
Our old archenemies the Red Rockers greet us coming off the elevator and direct us to the check-in table. Just like that, we’re in! That was easy. A little too easy. But hey, we’re in, who cares?! To the bullets!
- While observing the lay of the land, we spotted him. Not, not him-him, HIM! We eventually approached him to get a picture.
- After Alan May scolded RMNB’s Chris Gordon for being underdressed —including Alan fixing Chris’ collar and helping him tuck his shirt in properly — we chatted for a few minutes about turtlenecks and mullets, and various regions of the United States and Canada where Alan could still pull off that look. (Idaho, Wisconsin, northern Colorado, at least half of Texas and pretty much all of Alberta and Saskatchewan.)
- We staked out a spot at John Walton’s blackjack table to start the evening off. What a beast. Dude was laying down $100,000 chips like it was fake money. Which it was, but still.
- Carmen Brouwer came over to say hi (!) when the players and their dates arrived from the VIP reception, which we were not invited to, possibly because we did not pay the extra money for VIP tickets.
- We talked about what she should bid on in the silent auctions. Turns out team-signed stuff doesn’t have the same appeal to players’ wives as it does fans. Odd.
- Carmen also seemed… unenthusiastic about our suggestion that she bid on the collage of stills from the Caps’ Christmas video. It was almost as if she were ashamed of it.
- Ranger Ryan bombed Brouwer’s interview with Fox 5’s Scott Smith, then weaseled his way into the actual report. We also hijacked Carol Maloney’s NBC 4 interview with Troy Brouwer. That shockingly didn’t make it into her final report on the 11 o’clock news, but some awkward B-roll did!
- During the aforementioned interview, Brouwer told Maloney that our families vacationed together. That has not actually happened, but invitation accepted!
- We also told the Brouwers about our bet with Ian (that if Brouwer scores 20 goals this season, Ian will go to a game in spandex with us). Troy’s response: “That’s definitely extra motivation for me to shoot more.” Carmen: “And miss less.” BURN! (BTW, Brouwer has a 14.4% shooting percentage for the season, slightly above his career average of 14.1%.)
- We ran into new Cap Dustin Penner in the lobby. He appreciated our PB&J line sign and GIF (as did Johansson later – which makes it the official nickname, right?), but expressed his disappointment in the photo we chose of him. Too bad. We asked him to leave his tooth in for our photo with him, but he did not oblige.
- Organizers had advertised a “no posed photos in the ballroom” policy (they were allowed in other areas), but we found the loophole and decided we’d just photobomb as many Caps as we could find. The results are below, but it’s safe to say Karl Alzner won that game. As it turned out, the policy was not enforced at all anyway.
- As we stood behind Mike Green after photobombing his poker game, someone approached and asked to take a picture with us. She handed her camera to Green and asked him to take the picture for her. He did. Then she left without asking for a picture with him, which we’re pretty sure makes us a hotter commodity than Mike Green. #fancystats
- Ranger Ryan jumped into a game of Rock Band. Literally seconds later, Brooks Laich stood up from the drums and walked away. Ouch.
- Speaking of Rock Band, Brouwer managed to deflect our repeated attempts to wrangle him into a game. We apologize for not being able to pull that off and provide you with hilarious pictures and video. We promise to try harder next time.
- Both Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby were top contenders for wallflowers of the night. But we found them and pressured them into taking pictures in blatant violation of the unenforceable “no posed photos in the ballroom” rule. Backstrom (and MoJo). Holtby.
- Joe B. complimented our suits. It’s very unlikely that he was just being nice so we’d get our picture and leave him alone to finish his ice cream.
- While we were interrupting Joe B’s trying to finish ice cream, Mikhail Grabovski interrupted to ask if we’d take a picture with his wife. Somewhere there exists a picture of Grabovski taking a picture of us, and we’re going to need to get our hands on that stat. (Spoiler alert: it’s down the page.)
- We spotted Adam Oates across the lobby and waved him over. He furiously waved his hands as if to say, “there’s no way I’m coming over there.” So naturally we walked over to him.
- At the end of the night, you’re supposed to exchange your chips for raffle tickets, and then enter the raffle(s) for whatever prize(s) you want. We did not get that memo until the raffles were about to close, and ended up frantically searching for the ticket guy. Good thing we found him, because Ranger Nathan ended up wining a $100 gift certificate to Old Ebbitt Grill, which is a great place! (This bullet not sponsored by Old Ebbitt Grill.)
- Though there were plenty of Brouwer-related goodies in the silent and live auctions (a signed stick, signed used skates (which, seems kind of gross), dinner with him and a bunch of other people cooked by a famous chef, etc.), we did not bid on anything. Seriously, who has that kind of money and how do I get into their will?
Quotes of the night:
- “You look like a fancy Power Ranger.” – Bartender
- “If we were in a real casino and you didn’t split that pair, I’d rip your head off.”- John Walton to Ranger Ryan at the blackjack table.
- Fox 5’s Scott Smith: “A man dresses up in spandex for you, there’s no higher form of affection than that, right?” Brouwer: “No, that’s pure love right there. That’s pure affection, that’s pure love.”
- “I’m just as PC as the next guy, but…” – Dustin Penner
- “Oh, okay. I thought you guys were going to try to do some kind of skit or something.” – Oates, explaining why he tried to wave us away as we approached him for an autograph and photo.
And that’s pretty much it.
What a fun event. All the players we ran into were great sports, and it apparently raised a ton of money for good causes. You should definitely go next year.
Dustin Penner asked that we clarify that’s apple juice in his glass.
John Walton with a face that says, “If you don’t split that pair I will rip your head off.”
Our first photobomb of the night!
Karl Alzner wins the night.
Dima is intrigued, Kuznetsov could not care less.
Tom Wilson and Brett Leonhardt caught us mid-photobomb. We blame Chris being slow on the shutter.
So we took a normal one instead.
Carlson: Dude I’m trying to play some craps heWHAT THE?!
Adam Oates after we assured him we weren’t trying to “do a skit.”
Joel Ward is a badass.
That’s Mikhail Grabovski’s shoulder, you guys! Also, his wife Kate.
Grabovski almost committed to a fighting stance. So close.
Joe Beninati pretending not to be annoyed that we interrupted his ice cream eating.
Poor innocent Connor Carrick. What did he ever do to us? Nothing.
The coup de grace. Troy and Carmen Brouwer take the Brouwer Rangers’ side in a stand off with a swarm of paparazzi. We’ll let you guess who won.