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Don’t Stop Believin’ February 21, 2008

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Yes, I’m going to make a Journey reference after a bad loss.  Could be worse: I could have named this one after Meat Loaf’s “Life Is a Lemon And I Want My Money Back.”  That was an awful loss, and the way it happened was even worse.  Forget Journey and Meat Loaf–my guess is that during the first intermission Wednesday night, somebody in the Caps locker room must have been listening to “Surrender” by Cheap Trick.

Enough yucks.  This needs to be said right now.  Caps Nation, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO GIVE UP ON THIS TEAM!!!

But the thing of it is?  Some people did give up Wednesday night.  I could feel it, physically, when the Islanders tied the game.  The whole texture of the crowd’s energy changed, right then, into something that was not pleasant.  This was shades of that 4-0 lead we hairballed up against the Penguins last year: there was a resignation in the stands that we weren’t going to win this one. 

When I made my predictions for February, I said the following:

“Where then will the courage come from this month?  From us, the fans, is what I’m getting.  It’s our turn now, Caps faithful.  Our superstar is signed; we’re in the hunt; and the playoffs are not a pipe dream.  WE have to be the Caps’ courage this month.  We need to get down to Verizon Center every night we can, fill our house, and raise the roof.  WE are the courage coming from the outside.  Let’s not let our team down.  Even if things start going horribly wrong…, we still need to be there, and be the team’s courage.  Even if one of our players has an off shift, an off game, perhaps an off streak, we need to be there to encourage the team, win, lose, or shootout.  This month, Caps fans, WE are the team’s courage.  Let’s be there and make it happen.”

It didn’t happen Wednesday night.  I saw fans leaving when the third period ended, and by the time they started the shootout, even more were heading for the exits.  We, the fans, quit on our team.  Worse, we quit on our team when it was playing a critical game which may determine whether or not it makes the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  It doesn’t take any sensitivity to subtle energies to take a hint:  if you’re down on the bench, and you see fans getting up and leaving before the game is decided, isn’t that going to diminish your confidence?  If you’re the Islanders and you see the hometown fans leaving, isn’t that going to inspire you to play on and go for the jugular?

Caps fans, WE CANNOT QUIT ON OUR TEAM the way we did on Wednesday.  I can see the schedule and the standings just as well as you can, and I know we’ve got four games coming up against three divisional powerhouses.  I have to confess: even *I* have my doubts on these next four.  But now is not the time to go wobbly.  We don’t have a lot of home dates left in the regular season, so every home game is critical now.

As Capitals fans, for the balance of this season, we MUST:

*Fill our rink with hometown fans.  You regulars, spread the word to everyone you see: our Caps are in contention, and we need Caps fans SRO in the Phone Booth.  Tell everyone you meet to get down to Verizon Center and watch some terrific late-season hockey.  Better: it’s late-season hockey that matters.  Tell that guy who gives you the Express at the Metro in the morning.  Tell the person you sit next to on the train.  Tell your hairstylist, your coworkers, and (if applicable) the cop who gives you a speeding ticket.  Tell your server when you go to a restaurant.  You get the idea.  SPREAD THE WORD.  Our team is in contention, and we have absolutely no excuse to have anything less than sellout crowds the rest of the way.

*Raise the roof during games.  Verizon Center is too quiet when there’s “nothing going on.”  That’s got to stop, effective immediately.  We need chants; we need horn blasts; we need opponent catcalls; heck, if it takes the wave, we need to do that, too.  Whatever it takes to get the energy up in the Verizon Center, we have to do it.  We cannot sit idly by when there’s not much “action” going on.  If the big screen has to prompt us to make noise, then we’re not doing our part.  We’re going to need practice to be a good playoff crowd.  Let’s start working on that now: we’re not going to suddenly snap our fingers in April and turn ourselves into the ultimate seventh man.  Get loud!!  Now!!

*Cease and desist with the bad-mouthing of Capitals players in our building.  I confess, I’m as guilty as the next guy on this one, and it is going to take some work on my part to clean up this part of my routine.  Sorry to disappoint the nearby fans in 417, but for the balance of this season, you will not hear any more “make sure you’re under it” or “how do you say bonehead in Russian?”  Other arenas have rabid enough fans who are perfectly willing to smack-talk the Caps; we don’t need to be doing that in our house, with the season on the line.  I promise this, that I will do my best to encourage, not discourage, the team; and I challenge all Caps fans in attendance to do the same.  Cheer on good plays; cheer louder on great plays; encourage after disappointing plays; and bite your tongue on bad plays.  I’m going to do it.  Will you?

*Never, never, NEVER leave before the game is decided.  This is a biggie!!  Nothing will dispirit our team more than the sight of fans heading for the exits when the game’s still going on.  I know we all want to beat the traffic on the roads and on the rails, but that’s absolutely no excuse for abandoning our team like that.  Weather was a concern Wednesday night, so I’ll avoid carping on that game.  But I NEVER leave before it’s over, and I challenge all fans in the building to follow my example.  Don’t leave until it’s officially over.  Comebacks happen.  Our team doesn’t quit, and we, the fans, shouldn’t have that option, either.  STAY PUT, Caps faithful.  It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

*Unite behind our team and its players–every single one of them.  No, they’re not all superstars.  Yes, most of them have made some mistakes at different points in the season.  But, barring a deadline deal, this is our team, and these are our players.  All of them, to a man, deserve the fans’ full support at this crucial time of the season.

*This next part sounds a little “woo-woo”, but hear me out.  We’ve got to Believe in this team, with a capital B. I’ve said it before, and I’ve taken my lumps; I’ll say it again now, and likely take even more lumps, because this just needs to be said.  Our thoughts and our expectations as a fan base do have an effect on the physical plane.  Put simply, IF WE DON’T BELIEVE, OUR TEAM WON’T ACHIEVE.  Don’t believe me?  Then let me propose a Capital Spirit version of Pascal’s Wager.  If we, as a fan base, Believe in this team, and they fail, what have we lost?  We might take the loss a bit harder because of our added mental and emotional investment, but that’s it.  But if we Believe in this team, and it DOES make a difference, then we will not only be loud voices in the arena: we will be, on a subtle level, a mental and spiritual wind at our team’s back.  If the fans’ Belief has no effect, we fans won’t lose much; if it does work, we will effectively become an emotional and spiritual seventh man for our team.  I know that sounds too far-out to be true; perhaps it isn’t true, after all.  But if it is true, doesn’t that mean we have an obligation, as fans, to support our team on the subtle levels, as well?

Caps Nation, this is our moment of truth.  Our Capitals need our support, now more than ever, as they try to make both the playoffs, and NHL history.  And if we, the fans, can’t give our team the full support it needs, on every level we can possibly think of, then perhaps we don’t deserve to have our team make the playoffs after all.  (There, I’ve said it.)

I vow to do my part, to the best of my ability.  Now, it’s up to you.  Yes, you, the Caps fan reading this blog.  It’s time for you to give your support to our team.  Come to the games.  Raise the roof.  Spread the word.  Believe in this team.  We may make a difference; we may not.  I don’t know.  But I do know this:  we have no excuse for not doing our part.

So let’s do it.  Who’s with me?





1. notfadeaway - February 21, 2008

Well said. Dorky, but well said. And I’m with you.

2. CapitalSpirit - February 22, 2008

Thanks, I think. I know I’m not exactly a mainstream fan–heck, I don’t think twice about wearing a cloak–so I’ll put up with your put-down. Glad to see at least ONE person agrees.

I can only offer my own perspective on things, and I’m aware it’s a different perspective from most. Hockey and spirituality is a quirky mix, so it should stand to reason that my view on things may be a bit quirky, as well.

3. JJ - February 23, 2008

Good post. A little over the top at times by the core message is important. I think some of the fans are too quick to get down on this team. In some ways, I don’t think some of them understand how to handle the recent success that the team has been having.

I’ve noticed that the Caps seem to have the most self hating fans in the NHL, especially the ones on the board who seem to be picking this blog entry apart with glee. They can’t have it both ways – they want more people to come out and support the team, then they complain about bandwagon fans who are showing up because the Caps are playing well. They want wins, but aren’t willing to stick around for the shootout to support their team. I don’t care if people think that a shootout “isn’t hockey” – if you are a fan of one of the two teams on the ice, it’s part of the game and you should be watching.

4. CapitalSpirit - February 24, 2008

JJ, thanks for your well-thought-out response. Glad to have you as a reader, and I hope you come back.

Over-the-top is my specialty, I guess (I mean come on, I wear a CLOAK to games.) But I think I NEEDED to go over the top, if for no other reason than that our season is starting to slip away. Saturday’s meltdown in Carolina, which I was present to witness, just made the rest of our season that much more desperate.

At this point, the Caps are almost to the point of having to run what’s left of the table to have a shot at the playoffs. And our next three games won’t be easy: New Jersey twice, and Minnesota, both division leaders. We still have three games to go against Boston, whom we haven’t beaten in quite some time.

I believe the Caps have the ability to pull this out: there is still a month and a half left to go, and a lot can still happen. But they did not do themselves ANY favors in Saturday’s loss to the Hurricanes. It’s too early to concede the season right now. But the Caps are now going to have to leave absolutely nothing on the table for the entire month of March. And given how atrociously they played in Carolina, the players’ commitment to success is now, unfortunately, an open question.

Put another way, if you asked me, “Do you think the Caps want to make the playoffs?”, my response would have to be, “I’m not sure.”

That’s not the answer I want to be giving in late February, but alas, it’s what I’m reduced to.

JJ, thanks for stopping by. You’re welcome to post here anytime.–CS

5. The Guardian Project « Capital Spirit - January 17, 2011

[…] on a whole new meaning. (As does the song “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which I was referencing that […]

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