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.”
John Kerry is now a friend-of-the-blog, I guess. Like us, he shares a passion for hockey. Kerry has been playing his whole life, from the varsity team at Yale to the Lawmakers team he led during his years in the Senate. A few days before the Bruins White House appearance in 2012, Kerry appeared at the State of the Union with two black eyes and a broken nose, injures he suffered during a pickup hockey game.
Nicklas Backstrom is a quiet Swedish assist machine. He sits in the background, setting up Ovi and racking up points. He’s a bit shy, often speaking to reporters siting down and speaking in a soft tone. He’s not underrated. People know Backstrom is good, but he’s just doesn’t flout it at all. That’s why he’s not one of the league’s most recognizable stars, despite the skill and stats to back it up.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis during an event last week in Southeast DC. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
It’s been 40 years since the Capitals first took the ice in the 1974-75 season. The team has been celebrating the occasion incessantly, honoring the franchise’s best players with video tributes that air every night at Verizon Center and when CSN+ doesn’t have anyone in studio for the late game.
Despite the trumpeting of their former players, the Capitals will not be hosting an alumni game prior to the 2015 Winter Classic, which heretofore had been a tradition. According to the NHL, this was a decision made by the Caps. Speaking to Capitals season ticket holders last week, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly suggested one possible reason for the move: the League didn’t agree to a deal with Nationals Park until September.
For hockey players who first learned the game on frozen ponds, the Winter Classic is a throwback to their youth. On January 1st, the NHL’s signature game will invade Nationals Park to pay homage to that tradition. But one of the major story lines heading into New Year’s day won’t be hockey; it’ll be about weather.
If you’ve seen NBC’s most recent Winter Classic commercial, there’s no doubt what kind of forecast they’re hoping for. As CGI’d snow falls around Washington’s historic landmarks, the clip announces, “hockey returns outdoors.” Barack Obama crows in the background, “let us brave once more the icy currents and endure what storms may come.”
The mere chance of snow excites fans. If the sky spits just a little that day, it could provide bigger ratings and better visuals both for NBC and a league eager to reach new fans. The weather will have a major impact on the playing surface as well. A long stretch pass from the defensive zone just won’t make it if the ice sheet is blanketed with snow… or puddles.
With all that on the line, one of the most interested bystanders will be emerging-star weekend meteorologist for NBC Washington, Amelia Segal. And for good reason. Not only does she love weather, she’s also from this area and loves the sport.
While race has come up as an issue for more broadly in America recently, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant in sports. Today, the Capitals and the NHL dedicated a refurbished street hockey rink in predominately black Southeast D.C.
Recently, though, questions have been raised how inclusive the NHL really is in other areas. Since August, three national hockey writers have been fired for making predatory advances towards female hockey fans online and via text message.
When we heard a superhero foundation was holding a fundraiser in D.C. featuring Caps players Karl Alzner, Troy Brouwer, and John Carlson, we put our best subject-matter expert on the case. Here’s a report from RMNB Senior Spandexed Superhero Correspondent Brouwer Ranger Nathan on “Heroes Rock the Red.”
Spirits seem to be rebounding among Caps fans following back-to-back victories against the Chicago Blackhawks and the Carolina Hurricanes this weekend. A handful of them came out to celebrate the nascent winning streak with Caps players and a bunch of superheroes while raising money for Foundation 4 Heroes (F4H).
Brouwer and Carlzner signed autographs, took photos with fans, and tended bar at City Tap House DC to raise money for the F4H, which takes a unique approach to supporting kids with life-threatening diseases. The non-profit sends superheroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman to visit kids and encourage them to find the superhero inside themselves.