Probably about two months ago, reading something on this blog, I first learned of the first-ever Capitals Alumni game. I fly into town this week to participate, and I’ve been looking forward to Friday night pretty much all summer. As soon as I learned about the game I knew that wanted to come right away, but I wasn’t sure of my schedule at the time. I’m coaching the Louisiana Ice Gators. I am so grateful it has worked so that I can come back and play and see all the old Caps fans. So thanx OFB for tipping me off! I’ll get in town Thursday night. I believe the Caps have some stuff going on for us old timers both before and after the game; am waiting on an email about that.
It’s actually going to be a very special weekend for Caps alumni. I will be at the Caps Convention all day Saturday to meet and greet all the fans, old and new. Whatever the Caps want me to do, I will do it.
You might wonder what we old timers do physically to get ready for a game like Friday’s. I know we’ll have hundreds, maybe thousands, packing Kettler-Capitals, and there’s a lot of pride at stake with a skate like this. Currently I skate three days a week here in Lafayette, Louisiana, and get to the gym six out of seven days a week for spin class. But sure I’ll be winded. Hockey is always a competition for me.
I’m looking forward to seeing all of the guys — it’s been awhile since I’ve seen them. It’s always great to see former teammates . . . Bonzai, Locker, Langway, Cote — it’s going to be a blast to catch up with everyone, including the fans. I’m not sure who’s going to be on the bench as coaches. All I know is the captains so far — Laughlin and Langway. There will be a lot of PRIDE at stake! I think it’s going to be a special night for the players but an equally special one for the fans in the stands.
I did skate with the Boston Bruins alumni back in Portland, Maine, last year (in Portland we won the Calder Cup as the Caps’ farm team), and that was COOL. But this one is SPECIAL cause this is where I played most of my NHL career and where I met so many great friends, and it’s is always special to come back to the city/organization that gave you that opportunity.
Last March I made my first visit back to Washington since I left the Caps, and I not only took in two Caps’ games that weekend but got a tour of the team’s training facility. So impressive. I’m sure it will be packed at that unbelievable facility. I’m just gonna go out there and play with the ‘Pride and Passion’ that has always been in me. I will make it exciting as always — a Gordie Howe hat trick would be the icing on the cake. I did that at a Bruins Alumni game not long ago, incidentally, LOL. It will be a BLAST.
I’m sure I’ll be full of “piss and vinegar” as always when I get a chance to play, but I’m hoping to stay out of the box . . . (maybe) : ) Problem is, Bill McCreary is officiating! Oh,well.
The OFB teams asked me about pranks from my Caps’ playing days that I might discuss. I was never a prankster, but there were some great ones . . . but none I could share . . . Sorry!
Even though I’m in Louisiana during the hockey season I do get to follow the Caps a decent bit on TV. It’s a huge year for the guys, obviously. Gabby wasn’t coach of the year for nothing. He’s a great players’ coach. He came in and gave that team confidence and let them play to their strengths a few years back. It was an amazing turnaround to watch. As a coach, I’ve tried to pay close attention to what Gabby’s been doing in D.C. They have been so close, and I believe the defense will be a great attribute. (As long as everyone is committed.) I was always told “offense wins you games and defense wins you championships.” Gabby has a great knowledge of the game and knows what to do and how to adjust to situations . . . Go Caps!
This weekend I’m looking forward to meeting fans who remember the good old days at Capital Centre but also the newest ones — especially the kids. When I meet the kids this weekend I’ll tell them I was a player who cared about the team. I was going to do whatever it took every night to sacrifice my body for my fellow teammates. To sum up: Heart, Passion, entertaining, physicality and Relentless work ethic. And I ENJOYED my job and I had FUN doing it.
The first time I spoke with OFB I told John about having a fight tape from my pro career, and I joked (maybe) that I’d pop it in the video player every time a guy came by the Killer house calling on one of my daughters. I have three beautiful daughters. I do have a 4-hour fight tape . . . perhaps fortunately I haven’t played it yet for a young fella. But it’s ready, they will have to come 4 hours early to watch the tape before any date . . . along with the double barrel shotgun that’ll be above the mantle or perhaps it will be getting cleaned that day on the kitchen coffee table . . .
Have fun on your date, fella.