The Washington Capitals… up until a few years ago, locals and people across the country paid little attention to this talented team on the ice. Now, they’re the most discussed team in Washington, D.C., and they get mentions during NFL coverage of Washington Redskins games. Right now, the Caps are the hottest team in the city, and one of the hottest teams in the NHL. And there are a few reasons why this team deserves the love it gets… (in no specific order, mostly)
The Horn Guy: Consider him our personal cheerleader. Throughout the games, you hear “bwah bwah bwah” and it signals an immediate “LET’S GO CAPS!” from the entire crowd. Even if you are watching the game from home, you can hear Horn Guy on the broadcast, always cheering on the Caps at every home game, without disappointment.
The Franchise: The Washington Capitals have retired four numbers, to honor Rod Langway, Yvon Labre, Mike Gartner, and Dale Hunter. The Caps even have four Hall of Famers: Mike Gartner (2001), Rod Langway (2002), Larry Murphy (2004), and Scott Stevens (2007). While there may not be a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals name on it, the team has claimed an Eastern Conference Championship in 1997-98, and Division Championships in 1988-89, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2007-08, and 2008-09. The Washington Capitals organization also works with the AHL Hershey Bears (2008-09 Calder Cup Winners) and the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays (2008-09 Kelly Cup Winners). The depth of players in the organization is unreal, and the talent keeps getting stronger. About 1/3 of the current Caps roster played in Hershey before moving up to NHL play. We believe in our organization, and have faith in our rosters, and our fans support our franchise teams.
The Leadership: Under the leadership of owner Ted Leonsis, who blogs, tweets, and even offers his email to fans (and yes, answers them too), the Capitals have seen amazing success in the past few years. Combined with the General Manager George McPhee who has an eye for talent and making the budget and an often teddy-bearish and snarky Head Coach Bruce Boudreau (who was in Slapshot, just saying), the Caps have been able to continually climb in standings year after year and clinch the Southeast Division, and progress into the post-season. They’ve also increased the depth of talent in the farm teams by spotting great talent in the draft. The management and ownership is open and honest with the fans and makes themselves available to questioning. But, what is the best part of the leadership? It’s gotta be Boudreau’s one-liners in pressers and appearances on local commercials, where his comedic genius that he never got to show in Slapshot really shines.
The Fans: Fans show up and pack out the Verizon Center to “rock the red.” It’s a sight to be seen. Our fans are from all walks of life, from the city to the suburbs, from working on Capitol Hill to protesting Capitol Hill. And since it’s D.C., the best signs and t-shirts show up, showing that fans have truly made Washington, D.C. into a hockey town. Whether it’s a no-diving sign for the Pens game, a sign endorsing Bruce Boudreau for president, or even the terrible jersey fouls that PuckDaddy loves to point out, Caps fans get creative when it comes to games, especially the teams that fans love to hate: the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Rangers, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. And the fans only lead into the next best part of being a Caps fan…
The Phonebooth: The Verizon Center, built by the late great Abe Pollin, is the most electric building in all of the NHL, and I’ve been to a few arenas (and even heard the National Anthem at the United Center). None of them compare. The energy in the Phonebooth is contagious. You’ll find yourself standing half of the game, hoarse after the game is over, and high-fiving and hugging your seatmates. (But sometimes, chances are, though, you’re a season ticket holder and you knew their names and phone numbers and they have called you before to see where you were and why you sold your tickets to whomever was in your seat one night.) In fact, last year, during the playoffs, NHL employee Mike DiLorenzo commented on Twitter during the Caps-Pens series during Game 5 in DC: The top may come off this rink if the #caps brek [sic] thru. This is insane right now. #pens (link: http://twitter.com/NHLdilo/status/1750563164) It gets so loud in fact, you might as well just hit ignore on your phone, even during intermission, because there’s no point, you can’t hear anything on the other line.
The Wes Johnson: If you have to Google this guy, go ahead, and it’s worth every penny. Our arena announcer, Wes Johnson makes the games so incredibly exciting, and he’s a character during and after the games. The tone of his voice tells you exactly what you should know even if you don’t know what he’s saying. Wes Johnson, is in fact, the best arena announcer in all of the NHL. There’s nothing quite like hearing him announce a goal, and crediting it to various players. The Capitals would not be as exciting and as fun-filled without the voice of Wes Johnson.
The Location: The Washington Capitals are located in one of the greatest cities in the U.S.: Washington, D.C.! Outside of the Phonebooth are the country’s best museums and travel spots. Plus, whether you’re visiting or if you live in D.C., there is always something to do. The cultural aspects of the city are vast. From a plethora of food to music to the arts, even to sports, if you’re not at a hockey game, you’ve got plenty of things that can fill your time in the city. And, if that doesn’t excite you enough, you can always be on the lookout for the next spot the President will turn up, because he loves to dart in and out of the city.
Alexander the Gr8: Last, but not least, the Caps wouldn’t be the Caps without Ovi. As a Capitals fan, I learned one thing really fast, people love to hate the Washington Capitals, and specifically Alexander Ovechkin. Actually, they love to hate him because he’s so good. He’s the most talented player of the league, scoring like no other player, taking in NHL honors left and right, and one of the most physical players on the ice, and he’s a forward. He’s essentially the face of the NHL, whether Gary Bettman likes it or not, and people flock to see him play in other NHL towns. He’s a star, he’s passionate, and he’s an entertainer that brings fans to the game, regardless of Don Cherry’s distaste. Oh, and ESPN will actually give him coverage.
So, the fans of the Washington Capitals ROCK THE RED with pride, because we know, without a doubt, that our boys will consistently play great hockey and stick up for their team. But much more than that, the organization cares for the team and its fans enough to create an incredible hockey family.
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