Last night the Capitals introduced a new event to their ever-expanding list of fan events: Sticks ‘n Sneakers. It’s Hockey ‘n Heels for the younger set. Membership in the Capitals Kids Club has quickly grown, and the Caps figured there would be interest in such an event. They were right; all 120 tickets for the event quickly sold out.
The evening was divided into four sessions, with groups of 30 kids each. The first two sessions were on-ice demonstrations with Eric Fehr and DJ King. The first session was with Fehr where he showed the kids how to shoot the puck. The second session was with King where he taught the kids how to pass the puck. The second session discussed the various rules of the game via video review with assistant coach Dean Evason. This session was off the ice in the theater room, and included a tour of the players’ locker room. The third session was conducted by strength and condition coach Mark Nemish who ran the kids through a few conditioning exercises. Finally, the kids had a pizza party with Slapshot.
The second session with Dean Evason was particularly great. Evason is extremely patient, and knows how to talk to kids. He asked them questions to get them engaged and interested, and when he had their attention, showed some film. Of note, he showed some shootout footage from Wednesday’s game and pointed out that every time Ovechkin is one of the shooters, he sticks his tongue out during his attempt. The kids loved that. He also showed footage of the high stick to Mike Green’s nose and said, “You know another word for nose? Snotbox.” The audience went wild. The Q&A session after that was entertaining. One kid asked Evason, “Do you actually work for the Caps?” Another one asked him about his favorite player. Evason’s response? “Bobby Clarke.”
After the video review, Evason led the groups to the locker room. Naturally, #8’s stall generated the most buzz, and Brett Leonhardt had to sternly admonish the kids to keep away. One kid was disappointed to discover that the players weren’t there, but quickly got over it. Besides the on-ice time with Fehr and King, the locker room tour was one of the highlights of the event.
While there were some challenges (the kids had the attention span of a rock and couldn’t sit still for long), everyone seemed to have a great time, even the presenters. There’s just something about the excitement of a hyperactive pre-teen.