- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Those eyes, that height, the muscular promise of neck and arms.

Oh, my.

Women - hundreds of them - stare in wonder at a man who is part Greek god, Genghis Khan and the boy next door.

The ladies are agog. Adoring. Rapt.

But they are also hockey fans who know much about slap shots and hooking and breakaways. And here, within aftershave-sniffing distance, stands the player of their dreams at an official meet-and-greet.

The Washington Capitals have discovered women. They are the first team in the National Hockey League to delicately tap into their feminine fan base through a marvel of deft marketing, good cheer and a certain amount of swashbuckling romanticism.

Welcome to “Club Scarlet” - an untrammeled girlie-girl celebration of hockey and the he-men who play it.

“It’s an effort to grow the game, to bring hockey to the other gender. But women absolutely bring along a new enthusiasm, a nice passion,” said center Brooks Laich, recently acknowledged as the biggest “lady’s man” by his teammates in a publicity video.

“We’ve got a big tent, so to speak,” team owner Ted Leonsis said. “And we want to reach out to the most diverse, engaged fans - male, female, young, old. This is part of that.”

And the female fan.

Maybe she’s out there in her red jersey and red lipstick and Maybe Baby perfume, screaming in the stands as the Caps do epic battle on the ice and the Jumbotron is lighted up with the noble images of warriors, heroes and puck masters.

Oh-h-h-h my.

Which leads to the million-dollar question: Do the players notice the lady fans?

“Sure we do. We see them out there,” defenseman Mike Green said. “And we appreciate their support. This is a good thing.”

Said fan Sarah Bizer: “Oh, I’m a hard-core fan all right. Hard core. Been to the last nine games and I sure ‘rock the red.’ But I see the community here with other women and it’s uplifting. It’s fun; it’s sweet.”

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