Feinstein: Hockey in Washington Is a Lasting Excitement

The Washington Post’s expansive coverage of the Capitals extended to its editorial page this past Friday, where John Feinstein authored a magnificent assessment of Washington’s metamorphosis into a hockey town. “Every once in a while,” Feinstein wrote, “the scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story. In the case of the Washington Capitals’ 2008-09 season . . . the journey was more important than the outcome.”

Feinstein’s guiding thesis is that, unlike 1998, when Washingtonians got seriously excited over a Stanley Cup finalist Capitals’ club, the excitement this time is more durable and more notable:

“There is a difference between being a hockey town and being a town with a winning hockey team . . . Verizon Center was sold out during [the 1998] playoffs, because the team was winning and people in Washington — as in all cities — like jumping on winning bandwagons.

When the Caps failed to make the playoffs in three of the next four seasons, Verizon Center looked like a ghost town most nights. Often there were as many fans pulling for the visitors as for the home team.”

Feinstein next lays out a thesis for the feverish adoration this Capitals’ club has enjoyed in its city, one that I believe is conspicuously unacknowledged across the mainstream sports landscape: the caliber of human being which comprises our sport. The Capitals are extremely likable, and a microcosm of their sport.

“Hockey players are the most likable professional athletes on the planet,” Feinstein exclaims. Wow. We’ve believed that since we started following hockey, but to see that appear on the op-ed page of the Post makes for quite a moment.

Its a likability that fosters a profound connection between team and fan. Feinstein found that most abundantly on display at the painful end of last Wednesday night:

“After the traditional handshakes on Wednesday, the entire team remained on the ice while the Penguins exited. Then, led by Ovechkin, they stood in a circle and raised their sticks in salute to their fans. It was the kind of moment rarely seen in sports and almost always reserved for victory celebrations.

“Yet it was not only appropriate, it was perfect. The caps’ season ended in defeat, but their performance — on and off the ice — earned them the cheers they heard as the final seconds ticked down. The way the players recognized those cheering them is proof that those cheers were well deserved.”      

This entry was posted in Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Feinstein: Hockey in Washington Is a Lasting Excitement

  1. Flying Cloud says:

    Yes, yes, but what do you expect after the way Mr. Fedorov spoke about this town? And Ovechkin, tearfully acknowledging the fans’ farewell chant in his apres-massacre interview. Naturally the media will chime in, as if it was their idea. They know which side their bread is buttered on. I’m about as impressed as the NHL onthe Fly commentators’ forecasts, so carefully couched they can’t be wrong! Don’t think a savvy columnist would pass up the chance to look brilliant.
    I am increasingly optimistic about our team next season. Of course, I desperately want Fedorov back. He’s due for his 500th goal — imagine that legacy, forever tied to the Washington Capitals! He was on a 52 point pace, so here’s hoping our filthy ice is straightened out and we have cause to celebrate a remarkable milestone next season. A prince is a bargain at any price. And Brashear — must not let him expire in KHL, when Bongo is so in need of a tutor in the pugilistic arts. Besides which, he (Brashear) can score some truly astonishing goals when he has the opportunity, by virtue of the fact that no one expects it. No one in the league wants to fight him, so he needn’t fight, he can score instead. Much too valuable to let that one slip away.
    Bloggers are chipping about Mo being a goner. Nonsense! He’s moody, but he’s genuine. Always says what he thinks. Honesty is a rare commodity. Don’t forget he played with a broken jaw last season and no one knew. Paired off with Green, he’s great. Let them be. And Kozlov – how can he melt into godknowswhere in the frozen tundra? No! Bongo needs Dad, Dad needs Washington. And we need Kozlov for those shootouts and those playoff games leading up to the SC, which shall be ours next season.
    It is my sincere hope that our team remains intact next season. What a concept! Not since I’ve been watching hockey (1974-5, but in all honesty on and off until the 90s) have I ever recalled a time when any team was kept intact. At least, not since last season at the trade deadline. The synergy among our lads could build into a force that goes beyond anything hockey has seen in years and years. How fitting, for Ovechkin’s team. And Fedorov’s team, and Green’s, and Backstrom’s …. We are so damn lucky to have them!

  2. MulletMan says:

    Interesting viewpoint. I agree with most of your points but believe that we do need to do something about our D. I like Mo on the blueline but also feel that we need a solid, go-to D man for those big battles.
    In regards to Kozlov, IMO he plays lazy! We need forwards that are not scared to backcheck and skate hard every second of every shift. If we were able to replace Kozloaf with a solid work ethic forward…do anything for the team player, I feel we would look better for next years playoffs.

  3. Mark says:

    The Post improved its coverage of the Caps this year, but the status quo of poor hockey coverage has returned. Sunday’s paper had NO hockey, despite the fact the conference finals were opening that night. There was room for the NBA, MLB, soccer, horse racing, swimming, lacrosse, and a variety of college and high school sports — but once the home team has been eliminated, apparently that sport played on ice no longer exists. Today’s paper has just 10 paragraphs on the opening Detroit-Chicago game and one paragraph (about one player) on the pending Pens-Cans series. Maybe Washington is becoming a hockey town, but it’s in spite of the town’s leading newspaper. Long live the blogs.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s