The Washington Capitals hosted the inaugural “Hockey ‘n Heels” event on Monday February 26, 2007. The event was intended to bring more female fans to the game by showcasing skills, rules and behind the scenes looks at the players. Over 250 women signed up and the event was a complete sell out.
When Gustaffson first encouraged me to attend, I was a little “iffy” on the whole thing. The idea of traipsing around the Verizon Center with a bunch of women for three hours did not sound like my idea of a good time. I had mental images of hundreds of women making mad dashes to the players that attended, similar to the scenes that you see on television for the big wedding gown sales. But Gustaffson is intent on making me a diehard hockey fan, so away I went.
I will be the first to admit that I had a great time and the event was very well planned. Everyone was split into smaller groups and rotated through the five different activities, so the chaos was kept to a minimum. There was a wide range of women there as well, from hockey moms to puck bunnies and everyone in between. Yes, there were plenty of ladies in attendance hoping to snag some quality time with the young, single players. However, there were just as many women asking thoughtful hockey related questions. Plus, we all got to shoot pucks on the ice with Jamie Heward, Shaone Morrisson and Coach Dean Evason. After initial reluctance to get out there (I did have on 2 inch heels) I can happily say I not only stayed on my feet, but also made contact with the puck and got it into the goal! So what if the goal was only ten feet away?
The next stop was some “chalk talk” with Jill Sorenson and Craig Laughlin, where we reviewed rules such as icing and off sides. The talk was about twenty minutes long, perfect for a quick rules refresher. We continued moving on from there for a little girl talk with hockey wives.
There was really only one wife at the event, Jamie Heward’s. Brent Johnson’s fiancée and Shaone Morrisonn’s girlfriend rounded out the trio, taking questions about life as the significant other behind the player. The main thing we all took away is how normal the players are: they meet their girlfriends at a friend’s party or while waiting for a taxi. In the case of Jamie Heward, he has been with his wife since he was seventeen. After some goodhearted gossip we met up with Joe Reekie who gave us a behind the scenes look at the training rooms.
The tour with Joe was a highlight since he has a very dry wit and kept what could have been a boring look at jock straps lively. The digital cameras were out for this part and many women got a giggle at the underwear bags sitting out, ready to go for today’s game. I did overhear someone say she would never wash her hand again after getting to touch Ovechkin’s supply of hockey sticks.
Our final room was the actual Caps locker room, where we spoke with two of the Caps equipment managers. We discussed player superstition and what products take the smell out of hockey equipment. Overall the locker room was not terribly smelly. Many of the hockey moms commented that their mini vans smell much worse. By this time it was nine o’clock and there were a lot of hungry women, something to avoid at all costs. After a quick elevator ride to the Acela Club, we were treated to an open bar. There were a couple of specialty drinks just for the event (Hockey Bling Cosmo anyone?) along with beer, wine and liquor. There was also a very generous buffet and that is where the stampede started as women rushed past Brooks Laich, Steve Eminger and Donald Brashear to munch on chicken satay and pot stickers. After getting some food and drink the cameras were out again as everyone began taking pictures with the players, who were all incredibly gracious with their time. Finally, door prizes were handed out and the event was over. All of the ladies received a Hockey ‘n Heels goody bag as a parting gift.
All in all the Caps did a fabulous job on this event and offered something for everyone. I hope they continue to offer this in coming years and suspect that it will grow as well, possibly selling out in a matter of hours next time.