Friday night the Capitals hosted their Draft Day Party / Uniform Unveiling at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex. For the “play-by-play” details of the event, check out the Caps’ official site. Here, I’ll share my own perspective (and photos: some pretty cool, one very cute, and a few kind of painful) of this thoroughly enjoyable evening.
My fiancee Adrienne and I popped into the Kettler locker room area for a quick look. I posted a few locker room photos from my visit in April, but the “card wall” is something I’d missed photographing on that first trip. The glass wall separating the player’s lounge from a hallway is covered in slightly-enlarged reproductions of classic Capitals hockey cards on both sides. Click the photo below for a larger version and pick out your favorites.
The team wisely paid homage to its past by introducing some big-name former Capitals. Yvon Labre, Rod Langway, Mike Gartner (his first appearance in DC since he left the team), Kelly Miller, and Sylvain Cote are in the photo below, left to right. Cote, attired in cargo shorts and sandals, goofed around a bit and struck a surfer dude pose just before this photo, much to the delight of the fans and former players.
Now for the video from the big screens prior to the unveiling. Some great Capitals moments in here, including the Juneau goal that sent the Caps to the Stanley Cup Finals. Adrienne (whom I’m gradually ushering into hockey fandom) observed regarding the old-school footage, “It’s so strange seeing them play without helmets!” I grew up watching Ron Duguay and Guy LaFleur, so I have a slightly different perspective on helmets, but I see her point.
The last minute or so of the video was looped as they cranked up the smoke machines; then the curtain dropped, revealing the new unis to enthusiastic applause from the 2,000-plus Capitals fans in attendance.
The Most Hard-Core Fan Award for the night clearly goes to Caps’ fan Jim Greene and his friend, who got permanent tattoos of the new logo Friday night.
[They] each received on-site tattoos of the Capitals new logo, something that served as entertainment to some and excitement to the pair who have been long-time Caps supporters. Greene, who cut a deal with [Capitals owner Ted] Leonsis that if the team ever changed their logo, he would get a tattoo of it, was thrilled for the opportunity to take the Caps chairman and majority owner up on his word. Thankfully, the logo was something that he really enjoyed. 
Ink Junkeez Body Piercing & Tattoos of White Plains, Maryland, were there to do the honors. Ted Leonsis even came over to review his (indirect) handiwork. Here are some photos of — to repurpose a Neil Young song — the needle and the damage done:
Perhaps inspired by this show of Capital fandom, my friend’s four-year-old son decided he wanted to get a tattoo of his own. After Brennan skated a few laps with his dad, I walked him over to the young woman at the face painting table. There, when she asked what he wanted, he seemed nonplused. After a moment, he silently pointed to a blob of green paint. “Green? A green what?” the painter inquired. Brennan paused for a moment before answering, “A mouse.”
“Um… a green mouse?” the painter confirmed. “Yes,” Brennan replied, suddenly quite certain. She proceeded to render a little work of art, and added in a wedge of cheese with stink-lines emanating from it for good measure. As you can see from the photo, he clearly liked the final result.
As for the uniforms themselves? Well, they’re growing on me. I, like most, love the return to RW&B. The logo is a neat callback to the old one, but much smoother-looking. Personally, I would have liked the Eagle logo as a crest –†with the three stars between its wings and no “Washington” on the front — and the retro logo on the shoulders. Perhaps that could be a blue third jersey in a couple years.
But these are still pretty neat jerseys, and they look even better on the players kitted out in full uniform. Chris Clark & company skating around with the new blue pants, striped socks, and sweaters looked better than the jersey standalone. Plus it’s wonderful to be able to read player numbers and names again. So, if asked for a grade, I give the jerseys a “B” and the full uniform an “A-“. As you can see from the photos, the uniforms are more form-fitting than their predecessors, but are by no means the Spider-Man sweaters prototyped a few years ago (thank god for that).
The current and former players sat for extended autograph sessions, with many fans clutching just-purchased shirts and hats to have signed right out of the bag.
Family-friendly entertainment was ample: the aforementioned face painter was next to several caricature artists, and just outside were two moon-bounce jumpy carnival rides. Families crowded onto the Kettler blue rink for free skating; kids and adults alike tested their slapshots against a radar gun.
Once the draft began, we stayed until Cherepanov went to the Rangers (blech), then headed home after a very enjoyable visit.
Welcome back, red white & blue! We’ve missed you.