Towards the end of the first period and with the Washington Capitals down 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens, Comcast SportsNet panned to the owner’s box. Ted Leonsis was was sitting there with the greatest player of all-time, Wayne Gretzky. The Great One was chatting non-stop.
The Caps and Pens face-off in the 2011 Winter Classic. (Photo credit: Brian Babineau)
For the past few days we’ve waited with bated breath to find out what, exactly, Uncle Ted would reveal on Saturday morning at Caps Con. An outdoor game? A new retired number? Moving the team to Baltimore? Well, Friday morning news broke (via The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera) that the Washington Capitals will be hosting next year’s Winter Classic.
The Caps have been promised an outdoor game for the past few years, so this isn’t surprising. Still, it’s exciting that a big outdoor event — and there are too many of those to count these days — will finally be coming to DC, likely to Nationals Park. Ted should fill in the gaps for us on Saturday.
So, what do Caps fans think of being on hockey’s center stage?
“About damn time!” Beth Dunn exclaimed when I asked her about the news. “It was the worst kept secret ever.”
Ted shields his eyes — as he should — while walking past the Stanley Cup. (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla)
When the NHL lockout ended in the early morning hours of January 6, some wondered if the fans would come back. Having endured their third work stoppage since 1994, a fair number of hockey fans insisted they wouldn’t. But, in the end, fans showed up at the rink.
Despite its delayed start, this was a successful year for the NHL and the Players Association. Despite shooting themselves in the foot, the bleeding appears to have been minimal. Wednesday’s game between the Bruins and Hawks became the most watched game one of the Stanley Cup Final since 1997.
With the CBA sorted out for the next ten years and the sport doing well, the owners and the players are starting to reconcile.
The Capitals’ other minority owners, Coco and Lulu
Growing up, Elle Leonsis always wanted a dog. But when she asked her parents, she was rebuffed by Dad. Like 10% of Americans, Ted and son Zach are allergic to cats and dogs.
But Elle kept at it and eventually it wore down another member of the family, Mom. One day in 2005, the family’s matriarch made a unilateral decision while trying to keep everyone’s wishes in mind. When Ted and Zach came home that night was a small, barking bundle of joy waiting on the couch. Coco, the family’s first pet, was greeted with watering eyes and sneezes.
Okay, he’s just showing off now. (Photo credit: @mpoindc)
Alex Ovechkin shot a commercial for Verizon on Wednesday afternoon, and the extras were… well, pretty much everybody who walked past Verizon Center. Our own resident artist Rachel Cohen was at the event and gave us the scoop. Ovi, dressed in his full Washington Capitals gear, walked out through the front doors of the Verizon Center holding a bundle of hockey sticks. The Russian machine approached some passersby and asked if they’d like to play some pick-up with him. And then, right there on F Street, they played. Really.
The Red Rockers came out of Verizon Center to cheer on Ovi. The PA voice of the Capitals, Wes Johnson, did play-by-play. Owner Ted Leonsis and John Walton were there as well.
The game was three-on-three. Ovi picked players out of the crowd to play every few minutes. Judging by the chatter, a little game of flash shinny with the Great Eight has changed some lives.
In early August, Maryland-native Katie Ledecky won a gold meal at the London Summer Olympics. The 15-year-old had the second-fastest swim of all-time in the 800-meter freestyle. For RMNB readers, the best part about the victory however was the revelation that she’s one of us.
A before and after shot of Wes with his health coach Elaine.
On December 6, 2012, while the NHL lockout was in its 82nd day, employees of the Washington Capitals game entertainment crew reunited for hockey for the first time in seven months. The Caps AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, played the Norfolk Admirals in front of a sold out crowd. Hours before the game, arena employees met near the Caps locker room area for a briefing.
As PA Announcer Wes Johnson entered the room, Michael Wurman, Director of Game Entertainment and TV Products, pointed over to the man that many referred to as “Big Guy.” “There have been quite a few changes over the offseason,” Wurman said with a big smile. “And one of them just so happens to be sitting over here: Wes.”
The room gave Johnson a round of applause. “It was very gratifying,” Johnson told me in a phone interview. “And a little embarrassing too.”
“You’re probably in the last five to ten years of your life”
During a winter day a few years ago, Johnson walked out the front door of his Virginia home to run a few errands. As he made his way to his car, the 51-year-old actor, voice-over artist, and comedian, slipped on a patch of ice in his driveway. Despite his five-foot, nine-inch height, Johnson took a big tumble to the ground, ripping ligaments in his ankle.
James and Shannon show off their jerseys at Front Page Arlington. (Photo credit: Ian iPad)
On Sunday, the Washington Capitals officially opened training camp at Kettler Capitals IcePlex in front of about 1,000 raucous Caps fans. There wasn’t an empty seat in the bleachers, and rows of red-clad fans, four to five people deep, surrounded the rink. It was as if the lockout never happened.
But there were some fans not in red. They stood out from the pack, and that was intentional.