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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.

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troy-brouwer

[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.

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Photo credit: Geoff Burke

The Washington Capitals lost to the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 at Verizon Center on Friday. Despite the loss, Caps fans in attendance got a real treat; they were in the presence of The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

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.)

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The Story Behind The Guy with the Ovechkin Beard

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Eric with one of his awards

Eric with one of his awards.

Ed. note: During Sunday night’s game in Colorado, CSN’s cameras found a Caps fan with a stunning Ovechkin-themed beard. It was surreal. We wrote about it. We asked the man behind the beard what could drives him to turn facial hair into art.

My name is Eric Brooks, a 24-year-old Washington Capitals fan from Rockville, now living in Fort Collins, Colorado. I am the president of the Rocky Mountain Beard and Moustache Club, a national beard and mustache competitor, and an illustrator and assistant brewer at Black Bottle Brewery.

So, about the beard. It all began 2 yeards (beard years) ago. One summer, I was introduced to a TV show called Whisker Wars, which highlighted a group of different individuals who competed in facial hair competitions around the world. This was something I had never heard of before and it really intrigued me. I decided to put down the razor for a while and see if I had any shot at this.

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lemieux-vw-bug

Photo credit: @ChrisAltice

Editor’s Note: You may know Navy veteran Chris Altice from the 10-part Emmy-winning series “Carrier.” Altice served in the Navy from 2003-2007 and was stationed with VFA-14 Tophatters in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today he writes to us to explain why he — as a huge Washington Capitals fan — made a humbling drive to Pittsburgh in a car with Lemieux plates.

There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to do something he doesn’t want to do. Where the unthinkable eventually becomes a reality, and you just have to swallow your pride, and take one for the team.

For me, that day was September 26th. In this case, it was for my family.

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Caps Players Signed One of Those Awful Toasters

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Photo credit: Amanda H.

[Editor's note: When Washington Capitals fan Amanda H. went to the Caps Season Ticket Holder party at Six Flags last year, she had Martin Erat sign a photo of Filip Forsberg. This year, she one-upped herself. We'll let her explain.]

Martin Erat signs the toaster (Photo credit: Amanda H.)

Martin Erat signs the toaster (Photo credit: @Komissarov95)

I had debated for a few days what I should get signed at the season ticket holder party. I have a ton of Caps stuff, but nothing really stood out to me, until about twenty minutes before I had to leave. Long forgotten due to the poor toast it makes (No, seriously it’s very bad toast, I have yet to find a setting that toasts most of the bread without burning the other half), my Capitals toaster sat on a shelf, not having been used in months.

Images of walking around an amusement park carrying a toaster danced in my head. It was too amusing to turn down. I have a suspicion those events might be slightly tedious so I felt like this might spice things up. At the very least it’d give me something to say to the players instead of just awkwardly standing in silence. I cleaned it up a little and tested to make sure the sharpie would actually stick. It did!

When my friend Alyssa and I arrived in the parking lot, I had a moment of doubt. Am I really going to go get a toaster signed? Why didn’t I clean it thoroughly beforehand? I figured that either way, this would be a great story and probably worth the effort. I went through security and the bag check. The guy checking my bag thought my toaster was pretty cool.

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storm clouds in DC

As of midnight on Tuesday morning, the federal government has been shut down. Congress has failed to pass a budget or continuing resolution to fund the government for the immediate future. As a result, non-essential government employees, of which there are many in the area, are furloughed: no work, no pay. Seeing as the shutdown also fell upon the first day of the season, we wanted to check in on all those furloughed Caps fans across DMV.

Emails poured in expressing a range of emotions– frustration, sadness, and even feelings not directly related to Mathieu Perreault. Below is a representative sample of what we’ve heard, but please share your own story in the comments below.

Here’s hoping all of our friends get back to work soon. Kind of a bummer way to kick off what should be an exciting new season.

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Sorry Penguin. (Photo credit: @ZackkShapp)

[Editor's Note: Two years ago, we debuted a t-shirt parodying the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rachel Cohen did the illustration and Ian Oland turned it into a shirt. It has become one of our top sellers and even appeared on an episode of CRL. At the Caps Convention on Saturday, reader Zack S. endeavored to get his shirt signed by the entire Washington Capitals team. Zack was kind enough to summarize the players' reactions for us. If you want your own shirt, you can buy it here in our t-shirt store.]

My dad and I were given VIP tickets the night before the convention by a friend who worked for Verizon. I was running around trying to find something to have the players sign and I thought how funny it would be if we got the players to sign a Deadguins shirt.

If you have never seen the VIP room at Caps Convention, it’s just a bunch of tables with some sandwiches and drinks put out, and most of the players come by to eat lunch or just hang out there between appearances downstairs. It’s a really cool setup because some of the guys will actually sit down and talk to you.

Most of the players were confused at first when I asked them to sign the shirt, thinking that I was asking them to sign actual Pittsburgh Penguins regalia, but most of them laughed once I told them what it was.

Reactions ranged from, “HELL YES!” by Jason Chimera to Peter Bondra shaking his head and saying, “Aw, come on.”

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Cooking with Paige, Kate, and Mike. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

[Ed note: At Capitals Convention on Saturday, friend-of-the-blog Kate Hudson was selected to participate in a cooking competition with Mike Green. The first thing they made was a brie and strawberry jam sandwich. I’ll let Kate take it from here.]

When the schedule for panels came out, my friends and I knew we had to see Mike Green cook. I didn’t know what that would entail, but there we were, waiting for Greenie to struggle to bake something.

I was sitting with my friends Roxy and Katie waiting for the thing to start. They were asking for volunteers to help the chef and Green compete in an epic grilled cheese cook-off. Katie kept saying that I needed to cook with Greenie because that would be hysterical. So I stood up and was like “PICK ME, PICK ME” and Elliot pointed to me and told me I was the helper. I actually was like “Wait, me?” and Elliot was said “Yeah, you!”

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Photo credit: @MSEFndn

On Saturday, Washington Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer donated their time to DCPS Beautification Day. The event, established in 2005, is an annual citywide spruce-up of select D.C. Public Schools prior to the first day of school. A rad idea, one made even better by the athlete participation.

Backstrom and Brouwer didn’t just hang out and sign autographs for volunteers. They put in work too. The teammates helped paint a giant mural and did some landscaping outside (all the while trying to dodge their more emphatic fans).

Backstrom kept spirits high for one particular volunteer (and RMNB reader), Izzy Roscoe. Izzy, who volunteered at a Caps sponsored clean-up at Fort Dupont last April, got some special help from Nicky B while painting a mural near Neval Thomas Elementary School’s auditorium. Nick shows Izzy his gratitude in a photo they took together.

I’ll let her explain.

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