The last few weeks have been enough to turn even the most stalwart of Caps fans unhinged and overstressed monsters. It’d be really easy to become cynical and cop an attitude about the team, but that’s why it’s so important to keep everything in perspective.
Reader Taylor P. wrote us a story last week that was exactly what we needed. Taylor and her brother had an encounter with Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer at last Tuesday’s game against the Penguins. It was a little moment, but maybe little moments are what this team and this community need to remind ourselves why we’re doing this in the first place.
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.
And while we got some of those, unfortunately the responses we got back Friday night weremostlynegative. I think for good reason too.
Many Caps fans battled rush hour traffic on the beltway (some even drove a couple of hours), to make one of Ovechkin’s rare public appearances. Fans brought jerseys, sticks, and photos to get signed. They were excited.
When they got there though, they were told “no photos” and that Ovechkin would sign only a small postcard which basically equated to a Verizon Wireless ad. In some ways, the rules were understandable: a lot of people showed up (reportedly a few hundred) and Verizon wanted to get them all through the line. I get that. But the lack of communication ahead of time by Verizon, destroyed a lot of people’s expectations upon arriving.
For one fan, the most biting moment was when after he was told no photos, he watched as Ovechkin posed inside with all of the Verizon Wireless employees.
Editor’s note: Westminster, Maryland (which used to be the summer home of the Baltimore Ravens) is not a hockey hotbed. There isn’t a hockey rink in Carroll County, and Westminster High doesn’t have a hockey team. The closest rinks are in Frederick and Reisterstown. But one Caps family has bucked the trend. Samantha N. explains.
Yes, I know the idea sounds crazy. A backyard rink in Maryland? Is that even possible? You hear about the colder places being able to do so up North, but with Maryland’s bipolar weather, the chances of creating an outdoor hockey rink seems almost impossible. Well, not for our family. With the help of the polar vortex, we were able to bring hockey literally outside our front door.
Normally, when I go to games, for financial reasons, I get seats in the upper level. But for Alex Semin’s first game back in a non-Capitals uniform (a few years ago), I wanted to sit close, so I sprung for lower level tickets, row C, by the faceoff circle of the Caps-shoot-twice end, on the penalty-box side. With 30 seconds left in the game, the Caps held a 3-0 lead. Most of the fans were packing up their belongings, not paying close attention to the game. Suddenly (and I’m still not sure how this happened), the puck came over the glass fast, and hit an approximately 12-year-old boy sitting in front if me. He was woozy, his mother was (understandably) freaking out, and myself and others nearby were trying to get the attention of ushers/Verizon Center medical staff.
Editor’s Note: RMNB reader Lily P. went to Washington Capitals practice a few days before the NHL’s Christmas break. Instead of asking a player for an autograph or a photo with them, she went high concept. Here is her story.
After wanting to go for a very, very long time, I finally went to a Caps practice at Kettler on December 23rd. I had a very special experience. One of my favorite players is Braden Holtby and I really wanted to meet him. He was practically the last guy on the ice that day but as he started making his way towards the locker room, he turned and walked back towards the fence where I was after a few kids shouted his name.
Despite looking absolutely exhausted, Braden signed a whole bunch of autographs. I was really close in line petrified, not knowing what to do.
Editor’s note: The Washington Capitals fan base is a tight bunch. We have both super fans and normal people, but everybody comes together to watch the team blow a late lead. It’s a nice community like that. Recently, a few of those superfans shot a commercial for a local wine shop. We’ll let Nathan from the Brouwer Rangers take it away.
On a chilly, drizzly night in December, unbeknownst to all but a few fortunate souls, magic was happening behind the locked doors of an Arlington storefront. On Tuesday, that magic was revealed to the world in the form of this commercial for Arrowine, a local fine food and adult-beverage store. Give it a look. We’ll wait.
Editor’s Note: This is what it’s all about. 8-year-old AJ was made a Caps fan for life on Friday night. His father, Dave G. gives us a fan’s perspective of Ovi’s historic goal, one fan’s kind deed, and a terrific annotated video of how it went down.
I took my 8-year-old son AJ to his first NHL game last night in Raleigh (we live down near Wilmington, NC). Having grown up in Southern Maryland, I spent a good chunk of my boyhood years at the USAir Arena cheering on the Caps, but this was my first game in a long time.
I wanted to share our pictures and video with you.
On December 19, 2013, In Guest Post, By Peter Hassett
[Editor's Note: Though he's one of the best players in the world, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is also a normal guy who likes to take in a movie every now and then. That's how RMNB reader Mahesh P. came to run into him and have a night he'll remember forever. Let's turn it over to Mahesh.]
My brother and I found out that Troy Brouwer would be at Tysons Corner Mall a few Thursdays ago, so we decided to go meet him. We were indeed successful in meeting him and he seemed like a really nice guy. I told him that I really like the way the 2nd line is playing right now and that they are cycling the puck really well, which he agreed with obviously. I also mentioned that I really like when Oates puts Fehr in the top 6. To this, Brouwer said “I agree, I think Fehr is really good because he plays well.” So, I would call that a successful meeting.
As amazing as the night had already been, it did not end there.
My brother and I decided to go to see the new Hunger Games movie in the same mall after meeting Brouwer. We debated whether or not to buy the tickets on our phone before dinner so that we wouldn’t have to stand in line at the box office. For the rest of my life, I will be thankful that we decided not to buy the tickets in advance.
Gretzky was a guest of Ted Leonsis, watching the game in the owner’s box. CSN was the first outlet to point out that Gretzky was in attendance, cutting to a shot of him during the first period. As word spread among fans in Verizon Center, a throng of people started amassing aroud the box.
Gretzky, who is constantly harangued for autographs and photos, signed for fans during most of the intermission. He also took photos. And he looked thrilled doing so.
During the third period, Caps PA Announcer Wes Johnson officially announced that Gretzky was in the house. The Great One received a standing ovation, delaying the game for a minute.
RMNB readers have shared with us their photos and stories of meeting 99. (Make sure to read what James wrote. Apparently Gretzky signed a beer can. I would pay unlimited monies to have this.)