Joe Beninati’s Rookie Card

Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin pose with their Rookie Cards

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Way back in the eighties when trading cards were still packaged with a stick of bubble gum, a young, bright-eyed right-wing by the name of Craig Laughlin was featured on his first ever card. O-Pee-Chee, a Canadian candy company, produced the 1983-84 season set which also featured rookie cards for Scott Stevens, Phil Housley, and Brian Bellows.

Fast forward 28 years, Laughlin can now be found in the Capitals broadcast booth alongside play-by-play man Joe Beninati. The broadcast duo has been calling Capitals games together for 17 years. While the two took completely different paths to get to their current jobs, The Panini Group has now distinguished Joe B. with the same honor Laughlin received in his playing days. Yes, Joe B. now has an official trading card too. And it comes signed!

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Video: Joe B and Locker’s Biggest Fans

As you know, we don’t think it’s cool to give female hockey fans a hard time for liking the players. But it’s okay to differ on matters of taste. Evgeni Malkin, for example, has some kind of nerve-damage thing happening on that face that only a mother could (or should) love. But we see people holding signs for the guy anyway.

During Friday’s Jets-Caps game, these two sophisticated mamas made a tandem proposition to DC’s broadcast team of Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin. Bravo, ladies. You have our complete support.

Sometime later, Laughlin, who is always a smooth character, was caught signing autographs for fans who were throwing up items to him in the booth. This town certainly loves its announcers.

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Joe Beninati: The Year in Suits

Whether we like it or not, we carry profound memories of last season. We’ll be taking a few opportunities to revisit the Capitals’ 2010-2011 campaign soon, but we thought we’d start with the most important matter of all: Joe Beninati’s suits.

We at Russian Machine Never Breaks are the Ken Burnses of Joe B. fashion. We’ve been documenting every green blazer, every ostentatious houndstooth and argyle combo, and every– let’s be honest– pimp suit. The esteemed Beninati was your guide through a spastic season, and now we return the favor. Here are (awful cell phone) photos of Joe’s suits from every telecast this season– with links to our gamers.

So let’s take a stroll down memory lane with the sharply dressed, silver-tongued man himself.

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William Make-A-Wish (33 of 34)

Alexander Semin picks up William after giving him his game jersey. (Photo credit: Shannon family)

Editor’s Note: By now, you’ve probably heard of William Shannon. He is five years old, has acute lymphoblastic leukemia and is everyone’s favorite little Capital. Thanks to the make a Wish-A-Wish foundation and the Caps, William had his dream realized and took the ice with Mike Green, Jason Chimera, D.J. King and Semyon Varlamov on Friday.

“This weekend was an incredible event!,” William’s father Devin Shannon said in an email. “William’s wish was to practice with the Capitals and he did! I can’t tell you how much everyone has done for us and what this weekend has meant for us.”

After practicing with the Caps, William’s journey continued on Saturday when he and his family took in Washington’s matchup with the Buffalo Sabres before riding the on the Zamboni and receiving the jersey off the back of Alexander Semin after the game. I’ll let Devin take it from here:

Day two was just as amazing as day one! Allyson Butler from Make-A-Wish met us in the hotel lobby and took us out to wait for our “ride” to the game! Within minutes a very long black stretch limo appeared before us! Bill, our driver, was very nice. William and Emily quickly climbed in and all we heard for a few minutes was: “Cool!” “This is so sweet!” Then we had chatty little ones for the short ride over to the Verizon Center! It is amazing how just the little things make such a huge impression! How neat it was for the kids to get out of the limo right in front of the Verizon Center with so many fans around wondering who the V.I.P. was!

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William - Make-A-Wish (19 of 35)

William scores on an out of position Semyon Varlamov. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

It was an ordinary day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Caps players took part in an optional practice, one of the countless and rather mundane skates they will participate in this season. That was, of course, until William Shannon joined in.

William is five years old and suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His dream is to play for the Washington Capitals. For a few hours at least that dream was realized thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic chapter.

With the players wrapping up their on-ice workout, William took the ice, clad in the sweater of his favorite player, Alex Ovechkin, and Ovi’s signature yellow laces. He has been playing hockey since 2009, but had to stop late that year because of side-effects from his treatment. That didn’t keep him out of the rink for long, however, and in February of last year he was back, feeling so weak he had to use a walker, but nonetheless on the ice.

“This is phenomenal. This is every kid’s wish,” William’s mom Sandy told me. “For William, it’s even bigger. Hockey is what has gotten him through. Our hard days, our tough days, we are watching hockey. On our better days he’s playing hockey … To actually be strong enough, to be confidant enough, to be good enough of a skater to hold his own in a way with these players out here, you know, it’s joyful. It’s hope. It’s saying, ‘you’ve got a lifetime’.”

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Feed The Machine

Last week we opened up our lines for reader questions. To be totally frank, they’ve been way beyond our expectations. Didn’t know you had it in you; keep ‘em coming!

Now pipe down and pay attention, cause Neil’s about to drop some science on you fools.

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CSN’s intro videos have always been well done, but this one takes the cake. Going high concept, Joe Beninati and a dedicated graphics team introduce us to the Young Guns the Super Friends.

Nicklas Backstrom is Mr. Cool.
Alex Semin is Blade.
Mike Green is Falcon.
Alex Ovechkin is Laser.

Thanks to Neil Greenberg for his unrivaled DVR skills.