The Capitals’ Game 2 loss to the Lightning at Verizon Center ended with Vinny Lecavalier’s goal just before 10 p.m. Shortly after, the reports started to trickle out that terrorist Osama bin Laden was dead.
Reporters and team employees had work to do and yet the buzz started to fill the media room about what will go down as a historic day in U.S. history. Many on deadline feverishly finished their stories before some gathered to watch President Obama’s speech on a nearby television usually reserved for games.
In these moments, hockey was secondary. John Erskine tweeted a photo of his TV with the screen bearing the words “Breaking News: Osama bin Laden is dead, cheering crowd gathering outside White House.
That cheering crowd, late into the night, included many who had watched the 3-2 overtime defeat. One woman in a Russian Alex Ovechkin jersey T-shirt stood on the outskirts of the crowd taking photos. Others in red led chants of “U-S-A” as thousands gathered around the White House where Obama delivered his address to the nation.
“Tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed,” he said. “Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.”
Matt Diseati was at the Caps’ game but called himself “the most happy person on earth” to hear the news of bin Laden’s death. It wasn’t hard to forget about the Caps falling behind 2-0 in the series.
“Of course you forget about it,” he said outside the White House. “America won today. The Caps lost, but America won.”
Kevin Mahorney of Falls Church wasn’t at the Caps game but was wearing a throwback white jersey and walked around on crutches. His mood swing Sunday night was similar to many in the area.
“My heart was broken two hours ago, and now I hobbled my ass on crutches all the way from Falls Church to the White House,” he said.
Asked if he cared about the Caps erasing this deficit, Diseati said: “I mean, maybe a little bit but not really, ‘cause America won.”
“If youre not watching CNN…do it now!” Caps prospect Andrew Gordon wrote on Twitter. “What a crazy moment in history this is!”
Hockey will soon become the focus again for the Caps and their fans, but for one night it seemed irrelevant.