Lunch with One Hundred of Our Hockey Friends

Cup'pa JoeAt the Capitals’ media luncheon on Tuesday I was able to survey, in off-the-record fashion, 15 separate media organizations (OFB not included) to determine their respective prognostications for the Caps this season. The results:

  • Only two media outlets predicted that the Caps wouldn’t advance out of round 2 of the NHL playoffs

  • Eight outlets forecasted the Caps advancing all the way the to Eastern Conference finals

  • Fully five outlets predicted that the Caps would reach the Stanley Cup finals

 * * * * *
Last Saturday night night the Tampa Bay Lightning traveled to Norfolk to skate a game against their American League affiliate, the Admirals. The Lightning had Vinny Lecavalier, Alex Tanguay, Mattias Ohlund, and Victor Hedman all dress in Admirals’ sweaters, and the game couldn’t have been more competitive: Tampa won 5-4.

The idea of parent and farm skating an exhibition game seemingly holds fantastic appeal in the Capitals’ organization: the Cup-contending Caps versus the reigning Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears. Alexander Ovechkin has never skated in Hershey. Think our fanatical fans to the North would enjoy a visit by the Gr8, as well as distinguished alumni such as Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann, and Simeon Varlamov? And what if the game could be contested in the great old Hersheypark Arena — merely one of the greatest hockey rinks in the history of the world?

Well, I’m afraid it’s unlikely to happen. On Tuesday I asked Capitals’ management about such a scenario, and they weren’t warm to it. Bottom line — and it’s actually a compliment to the organization as a whole when you think about it — Caps’ brass believe that their up-and-comers wouldn’t embrace such a game as fans and media would (mere exhibition), and instead skate so as to try and strut their stuff against the varsity — show them up, in other words. I’d love nothing better than to cover such an exhibition, in the great old barn, but I can live quite well with the rationale for why the Caps don’t want it.

* * * * *
The first casualty of Michael Nylander’s albatross contract arrived on Tuesday, right as media gathered at Verizon Center for the luncheon. Chris Bourque was placed on waivers.

* * * * *
On Tuesday night I attended an awards dinner at the National Building Museum hard by Verizon Center. You’d think ten grand for a (small) table (purchased by my employer) would deliver a moderately entertaining evening. But there are some (many) in D.C. who arrange such extravaganzas and presume that their cause in and of itself is enthralling to 1,500 Washington professionals at the end of a work day, irrespective of the numbing speakers put forth to showcase their endeavors. Worse, they believe that serving wine (Ravenswood) fit only for cooking with won’t go censured.

Right next to my organization’s table was one featuring a Washington Capital, attending only because his wife had some association with the event. After about the sixth stupefying video award I approached the adjoining table and asked the Cap if he’d consider alleviating our collective tedium and regale us with five minutes of big-league puck tales. “I’ve been napping for 30 minutes, so I’d like nothing better,” he replied. So he joined our table and transformed the evening for a half dozen of my colleagues, none of whom had ever enjoyed the company of a professional athlete at a swank D.C. dinner. He was modest, genuinely engaging, and chock full of enlivening narratives. He doesn’t know it, but he has six new fans (for life) and six Washingtonians who now demand that I get them seated for a Caps’ home game in October ASAP.

I so love our sport because of moments like this.

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2 Responses to Lunch with One Hundred of Our Hockey Friends

  1. Jeremy says:

    Who, may I ask, was the aforementioned Cap in your last anecdote? Michael Nylander perhaps?

  2. CapsFan1975 says:

    So who was the unidentified Cap you ran into? Is his name unmentionable?
    Glad he kept you entertained at an otherwise boring event.

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