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A Night To Remember November 9, 2008

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

This will be Post #100 for me, and I can think of no better way to roll over the odometer than to recount all my instant reactions to my night in the owner’s box.

Mom and I got to Verizon Center around 4:30 for the Caps Fan Club meeting. That was fun–George McPhee came in for his annual grilling and endured it quite nicely. Given how little of his thinking he puts out on the record, I’d hate to play poker with the guy, and I was tempted to ask him what his biggest win has ever been at the poker table. There were a couple of fairly heavy questions–one about Brian Pothier, the other about Alexei Cherapanov–that got a little awkward, and that might have been a good question to lighten up the room. Those were more than a little somber. The rest was mostly respectful shop talk about various players and deals swung in seasons gone by.

From there, Mom and I went straight down to the Owner’s Box. We were the first ones there, and I remember being absolutely blown away by the place. There’s a recliner in there for Abe Polin, and not even Ted himself gets to sit in that one, I’m told. Couches, padded table, bar and stools, an intimidating (to me) table of hors d’ourves, programs, DETAILED game notes…to an upper-concourse fan, the place is awe-inspiring. I could only drink Diet Coke up until the first intermission–I was so humbled by the place that my stomach would probably have rebelled had I fed it solid food. More guests arrived, and I think there were eventually something like three dozen people in the box, most of whose names escaped me.

I had brought with me two different “thank-you” items for Ted: the brand-new DVD re-issue of the movie “Baraka,” and two of my spinner balls from last year (and I’ll get to those in a moment.) Ted initially wanted to send the spinners home with me after the game, and wait for the ones I had ordered, but I insisted he keep the ones I had brought with me (they almost left with someone else at the end of the night, but that’s another story.) Given how special those two spinners were, I’m surprised I didn’t break down–more on that in a minute, I’m trying to remember the “wow” stuff and get it down before I forget.

At the first intermission, everyone in the box went down to the suite’s dining room. (Private elevator–man, I was out of my depth on THAT one.) Dinner was delicious–penne with vodka sauce, I think, and some bowtie pasta primavera that settled well, stayed put, and got rid of the butterflies for the balance of the night. (Although I could only be so at ease with Dick Patrick sitting at the next table over.)

Second intermission was mingling and saying hi. I talked to Dick Patrick, who said he’s seen my light show (current issue) before, and thanked me for coming out. I frantically waved Mom over and introduced her to one of the most famous families in hockey. Mr. Patrick quipped that when they renamed the NHL’s divisions geographically, he was wondering how he’d ever explain to his kids why he was changing the family name to Atlantic. I thought that was funny, but I can’t remember whether or not I laughed: the sheer scope of that joke reminded me of my place. It wasn’t meant as a put-down, I didn’t take it that way, and I don’t want to give you the impression that it was. It was just very humbling to be in the presence of someone who could actually tell a joke of that magnitude.

A couple of other random memories I want to record: the suite has a private powder room, and on the wall behind the commode, there’s a large collage of great moments that have taken place in Verizon Center. For so many great moments to be enshrined in a powder room, of all places, was quirky. And on the wall as you come in, there’s an enlarged story from the Post from several years back–I want to say 1998, when the Caps were making their Cup Finals run. I didn’t read it all, but I remember Olie’s picture was in there. And doesn’t time just fly?

Ted sat next to me a couple of times, and was cheering just as enthusiastically as any serious fan would. He really is a fan first, and we Caps fans are extremely lucky to have him as an owner. I didn’t–check that, I couldn’t–say much, and I pretty much kept my eyes on the game. I wasn’t trying to be anti-social or ungrateful, and I really hope Ted didn’t get that impression. But if I had tried to hold an in-depth conversation with him, my nerves would have eventually gotten the better of me. True, there was a game to watch, and that was some security right there: the familiar, if unpredictable, ebb and flow of skating, passing, shooting, and scoring. But the rest of the night was just so far beyond anything I could have expected. It was a tremendous privilege; it was an extreme honor; and I want to give Ted a very public “Thank you!!!” for inviting me to share such a wonderful game in such unforgettable fashion. This is a night I will cherish for as long as I shall live. Ted, thank you, and God bless. I wish I knew how to say more than that, but alas, I do not. I hope that a sincere and grateful “Thank You” will suffice.

As to the spinner balls I brought with me, there’s a story behind those. I bought those in the middle of last season. I want to say early January at the latest, but it may have been earlier. There are a lot of important moments, both for the Capitals and for me personally, that those spinners were there to light up. Those spinners were the ones that shone down upon Olie Kolzig’s final home game in a Washington sweater. Those spinners were lit to celebrate Alex Ovechkin’s 65th goal. That magical run down the stretch last year, when every game was a must-win–those spinners were there for all of it. And when the season was over, and the Capitals completed the most historic comeback in NHL history, those were the lights that celebrated that victorious moment–a magnificent moment that had been four months and change in the making. Alas, they have known defeat: they were there for all four home games of the playoffs last year, including that heartbreaking moment when it all came to such a catastrophic end. And tonight was the first time those spinners returned to Verizon Center. As for me personally, those spinners were the ones that I brought to the Rangers’ last visit to Washington–which was the game during which they filmed the Superfan segment on me. Those were also the exact spinners I was holding in that picture of me that ended up on DC Sports Bog.

Those spinners served me well; I can only hope that they served the team anywhere near as well in my hands. Ted, they’re in your hands now; and I hope and pray that they may serve you just as well as they served me. Be blessed.

As to the game itself–wow. 2-0 after two periods, and then all of a sudden, it was 2-1. Ted had said that I would never get invited back if the Caps lost tonight’s game, so as you can imagine, I was quite the basket case when that late penalty got called in the third, giving the Rangers a 6-on-4 power play. The penalty kill worked, however, and merely nine seconds removed from the sin bin, Alexander Semin golfed it down the rink towards the empty cage, and booked the insurance marker with six seconds remaining. It was a spectacular ending to a night that was already filled with memories to last a lifetime.

Anyway, it is now quarter to one in the morning, and if I don’t get to bed, I will have nothing left for tomorrow. Good night, folks–see you at the Phone Booth on Monday night.



1. J.P. - November 9, 2008

Awesome stuff, and a well-deserved great time.

2. Gustafsson - November 9, 2008

Thanks for sharing.

3. MB - November 10, 2008

How fun, and what an honor. Thanks for sharing it with us.

4. carri m. - November 10, 2008

hey there. sounds like you are having a good time with your mom, and with the hockey games. please, tell everyone hi for me (your mom, your brother and his fam. ) take care and God Bless!

5. Lorne - November 10, 2008

My son and I wondered why we saw a woman in a cloak instead of you walking past us on our way to 423. Glad you had a good time.

6. tuvan hillbilly - November 11, 2008

Thanks so much for sharing your experience in the box — what a wonderful treat for being a great fan. This was a great writeup and I loved getting hearing about all the details, as that is as close to that box as most of us will ever come. Keep up the good–no– Great! work.

7. CapitalSpirit - November 13, 2008

Thanks, everyone, for the comments, and it was a privilege to be able to share that with you.

Lorne, my seatmate–who is female–has a cloak of her own, so if they were to turn the Kiss Cam on 417, they’d have us dead to rights.

I know some users have been clicking on the link to Half Moon, to at least see what they have on offer. Whether they’re buying or not, I have no idea, but they are looking. I’m kind of iffy on this one. On one hand, it would be quite cool to have started a fashion statement. But on the other, there’s a deeper meaning with my cloak, and I’m not sure that’s going to be taken on by other fans.

Let’s say some of my readers do give Half Moon a click, and do decide they want a full-length red. Will they wear it to symbolize service, or will they just wear it for looks?

If I could get enough like-minded (and -dressed) fans together, perhaps we could all stand at the foot of different sections in the Caps’ end on warmups, and surround the players with Light and Love when they take the ice. Yeah, I know, eat your heart out, Walter Mitty, but still…

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