Last night, I attended Hockey ‘N Heels at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with my partner-in-crime, Hockey Mom. The event, by all accounts, was a huge success. When tickets went on sale in October, they were gone in half an hour. Over 300 women were in attendance.
Jay Beagle, Mathieu Perreault, Eric Fehr, and Tyler Sloan were there to assist with the on-ice demonstrations, but Peter Bondra was the guy everyone wanted to see. “I’m so glad to see him out there,” one woman said to me. It really was great to see Bondra out on the ice again in a Capitals jersey.
The chalk talk by Lisa Hillary and Alan May seemed to go well. May was discussing his hockey experience, and mentioned, “I was in the league when Jagr started to play…” and it was encouraging to hear a chorus of boos. Brett Leonhardt led the equipment session, where ladies were able to try on all the gear.
By far, one of the best sessions was the video analysis with Bruce Boudreau. Gabby was his ever-garrulous self, seamlessly blending entertainment and information. He showed a typical pre-game video session and described its use, even though the players might not always remember what they’ve seen. “On the power play, guys want to score, so they don’t retain this.” Some great quotes came out of that session. When one woman started to ask him a question but backtracked a bit, Boudreau quipped, “Typical woman, they can’t make up their mind.”
Boudreau explained the value of the video sessions: “We know before the game what they’re gonna do, and it’s a chess game to see what they’re gonna do and when they do it. The guys should- if they’re on their game- stop them before the blue line. When we hit a lot, we tend to win the game. This morning, we showed three minutes of video from Tuesday’s game forechecking the crap out of the Rangers.”
He took questions and comments at the end. One fan said, “This is the year!” and Boudreau answered, “For what?” After the crowd laughed, he went on to talk about the team’s potential. In fact, he said, “I met with the Slovakian coach today, who asked how we play. I told him, but I have no concerns about it, as their memories are short.” Gabby cemented his reputation as king of the one-liners.
Overall, the event went more smoothly than the previous ones. Feedback from the other events was incorporated into the planning, and consequently, attendees didn’t feel rushed through the on-ice demonstrations. One new addition was the merchandise table, which showcased a significant number of different clothing options for the ladies. I was pleased to note that all of the shirts, hats, sweatshirts, etc. were in team colors, and pink was noticeably absent from the table. (The ubiquitous sparkles were still there on some of the shirts, but hey- it’s a start.) “We recognize that most women want to wear the team’s colors,” said the woman behind the table.
As always, the Capitals organization put together a fantastic evening. They’re obviously learning from each event, and taking participants’ feedback seriously. Ladies, if you haven’t attended a Hockey ‘n Heels yet, I highly recommend it.