Seven years ago, Joseph Caprario’s father took his eight-year-old son to a Washington Capitals game after winning a charity auction. This was back in 2008, when Mike Green was electric and on his way to a 31-goal season. After that game, little Joseph met Green. The defenseman gave the fan a game-used stick and signed the blade with a silver Sharpie. Joseph treasured it; he hung the stick on his wall. For the affable Green, it was a routine gesture.
“A few months later, I started playing hockey myself,” Caprario told me. “Meeting Green was what inspired me to do so. I started as a defenseman. He was my favorite player.”
Elyssa Cole, a 29-year-old teacher in Sterling, Virginia, has always been a huge fan of the Caps and an even huger fan of Mike Green. She loves collecting Caps memorabilia. Five years ago, she found on eBay something she had to have. It was a Mike Green game-used stick. Cole splurged, shelling out $200 to buy it.
On Sunday, both Caprario and Cole made the hour-long trip to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to give back to the guy they felt had already done so much for them.
“I figured that if this stick is so good to him that he plays better, this was the right thing to do,” Cole told me. “As a fan, I’d do anything to help the team win.”
At the start of the 2008 NHL season, Mike Green came to camp with just 15 sticks. They were Easton Stealth CNTs. At the time, Green said his sticks had been discontinued for “a while.” He would be getting no more. Over the course of that season, Green posted unbelievable numbers for a defensemen, scoring 31 goals. Looking at the goal leaderboard for that season, Green is just below some of the most high flying scorers in the league: Malkin, Toews, and Crosby to name a few.
“I think sniper was up there, shot me in foot,” Ovechkin told reporters after the game.
When I asked around the Capitals locker room at the Kettler on Monday, I was hoping the learn that Ovi’s teammates had seen the fall — or at least the replay — and had been giving Ovechkin a hard time. Troy Brouwer didn’t let me down.
While the Capitals and Red Wings were busy boring a mostly full Verizon Center, a sporting contest of greater import was taking place in the Boston suburbs. With a spot in the AFC Championship Game on the line, the 2013 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens took a 28-14 lead on the New England Patriots. With five minutes left in the game, however, Tom Brady threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to give New England a 35-31 lead and send the entire state of Maryland into Old Bay-seasoned tears.
After the Capitals’ 3-1 victory over Detroit, I caught up with Joel Ward, a massive Ravens fan. Though Ward scored in Washington’s 22nd victory this year, he become downtrodden when I brought up the game.
“I knew they were going to be tough,” Ward said. “I saw that they were up by a couple scores earlier on. Foxboro is a tough building. I can only imagine how they are feeling right now because it was such a battle with what they accomplished. I think a lot of people counted them out early on.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Nate Schmidt sat in the corner of the Washington Nationals clubhouse, quietly taking off his gear after Caps practiced outside at Nats Park. With the NHL taking over the baseball stadium, the room has been temporarily transformed into a hockey locker room, though it’s not quite as smelly as a real one. To Schmidt’s right, around 15 reporters gathered around Karl Alzner, eager for his thoughts on the eyewear revolution he started. As RMNB’s Chief Fashion Reporter, I had my eye on a different aspect of Winter Classic apparel: the scarf Schmidt was wearing.
“This is my first ever scarf experience!” Schmidt gleefully announced to me. “First ever. I used to always make fun of people who wore scarves.”