We never imagined that offering up a mere coffee mug would occasion the outpouring of superb reminiscence of Caps’ hockey memories that’s transpired here since last Friday. By Saturday night we needed two or three dozen mugs of honor to bestow. We don’t have that, but we are going to make multiple awards with our inaugural Free Loot Friday gift of OFB booty. In the dead of hockey-less summer, OFB readers by the dozens these past few days often gave us chills with their detail-rich strolls down Memory Lane.
If you’re a Caps’ fan of any duration and you haven’t persued the comment thread for the competition, you really ought to. In addition to rich descriptions of seminal moments in the franchise’s history, there are loads of warm and moving testaments to the power and hold our game has had on the lives of the region’s puckheads. Under such circumstances, we were at pains to pull out merely one or two favorites; we hope that all of you who so generously shared such personal anecdotes realize that you’ve helped craft a lasting and memorable forum.
We’ve long known the caliber of our puck-savvy reader, but never before has it been showcased in such quality and abundance in a single file. At least not here. This is what we’d hoped would happen here back in October of ’06.
So it was good, good fun. Certainly it helped bridge a bit of the hockey-less gap we’re presently enduring. Certainly we’ll be doing it again, next month.
OFB reader Bill soon will sipping his morning joe out of an OFB coffee mug. This he shared with us¬†last weekend:
“. . . On December 11, 1976, against the short-lived Cleveland Barons (see California Golden Seals)(later to merge with the Minnesota North Stars)(later to move to Dallas). This particular night happened to be a “Date Night” promotion — for the cheapskates in the audience, buy one ticket, get one free for your date. A high school senior that winter, I of course took a lovely young lady out on our very first date that cold December evening to see the Caps play. The relationship that subsequently developed was far more successful than the on-ice results (sadly the Caps lost 4-2), with plans to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary this coming season at Verizon Center cheering for a more successful result by the home team!”
We’re such softies.
Speaking of affairs of the hockey heart, check out joyfulleigh18′s poignant reflections on what the journey of the 2007-08 season meant to her life:
“My most amazing hockey moment was a sad one. It was the very last second of our very last game this past season, a game that we lost and our Stanley Cup hopes were dashed for the year.
“How on Earth could that be my best hockey moment? Allow me to explain.
“This was my first year of hockey. My husband PJ (a life-long hockey fan) got us season tickets and I decided to go and do my best to understand what about this crazy sport he loved so much. During the preseason, almost no one showed up to the Verizon Center. “This is it?!?” I thought to myself. Pretty pathetic. But I did my best to follow along and learn the game. My goal became to figure out why the whistle would be blown and make the call before the ref did. I’d whisper “icing?” or “hooking?” to PJ and he’d either nod or correct me.
“Sometime in early November I “saw” offsides for the first time. PJ had explained it to me about a million times, and while I could wrap my brain around the concept I still couldn’t “see” it because my eyes were following the puck instead of watching the whole ice at the same time. And then one day I just got it, and I’ve been able to see it ever since.
“By Christmastime I knew all of the players and their strengths and weaknesses. I knew which ones I liked and which ones I didn’t. I encountered some guys at a bar one night and had an incredibly articulate and well-informed conversation with them about the Capitals. My husband stood by and watched with an amused and amazed expression on his face.
“Little by little the Caps were getting better and better, and the Verizon Center seats were getting more and more full. As the playoffs approached, I found myself going online to figure out which other teams had to win and lose in order for us to be division champions and/or make the post-season. Of course, we made it, and I attended every game, wearing my red and yelling my head off. Those preseason games from last fall seemed so long ago. I was a different person then.
“So back to the point (thanks, if you’ve stayed with my rambling story this far). On the last second of the last game of the season, as people started filing out of the Verizon Center with their heads lowered, I looked at my husband and quietly said, “I don’t want to leave. I don’t want hockey to be over.” And that’s when we both knew that I wasn’t just a hockey fan’s wife. I am a hockey fan in my own right.”
Indeed you are, Leigh. With writing like that, you need a new mug for morning to help carry you through¬†the next narrative, we think. We hope you share that with us just as you did this.
And thank you all for sharing your most cherished Caps’ recollections.