- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
Caps look to build Baltimore base with preseason game
Tuesday night was not just another exhibition game for the Washington Capitals. Usually, the first game of the preseason is a chance for veteran NHL players to get up to speed after a summer away and for younger guys to impress coaches and fight for roster spots.
Perhaps it was just another game like that for the visiting Nashville Predators, but for the Caps, the “Baltimore Hockey Classic” was a chance to showcase the highest level of the game to fans who might not ordinarily get to see it - and perhaps enhance an already-growing fan base.
“I think it’s really important in that you can tell the Washington Capital brand is expanding and that hockey itself in the D.C. area and beyond is really becoming relevant,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “And the people in Baltimore are sort of clamoring for the game as well as we are.”
Ticket sales were strong - beyond 95 percent capacity a week before faceoff, according to officials. Many had to pay full season-ticket prices for the game at the 11,000-plus-seat 1st Mariner Arena, which hadn’t hosted professional hockey since 1997.
So the objective, general manager George McPhee said, was to perform well and “go up to Baltimore on a Tuesday night in the preseason against a nonconference team and sell the building out.”
With this likely being as highly anticipated a preseason game as the Caps could put on the schedule, they didn’t scrimp on the star power. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, Mike Green and Michal Neuvirth were in the lineup.
The NHL requires teams to dress eight “veterans” for preseason games, but the Caps brought their headliners because of the greater significance of this game.
“I think we owe it to everybody to put a pretty good team on,” Boudreau said. “When we go to Columbus [Wednesday night] we’re going to put a pretty good lineup together. I think we always owe it to paying people to put a good lineup out there. We’re trying to do that all the time.”
Of course, putting star players on the ice couldn’t hurt trying to impress the Charm City faithful.
“I definitely think it helps,” Alzner said. “When you don’t play in a city - ever - and you finally do get to play a game there, you want to see those guys that everybody talks about. That’s definitely a big draw.”
Assistant coach Bob Woods pointed out guys were fighting for spots, such as 20-year-old center Cody Eakin, who was on the third line Tuesday night. Also, the Caps wanted to ice a competitive lineup because the Predators brought goalie Pekka Rinne, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season.
The grander implications of the game - beyond the economic boon for Baltimore and the novelty of playing close to home but not at Verizon Center - go beyond the result.
“Who knows? We might have a future Baltimore city school kid grow up to be a Washington Capital,” Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said.
Young said last week that he would like the city to host annual preseason Caps games and, if everything goes smoothly, a regular-season game.
That might be far-fetched, given the limited facilities available at 1st Mariner Arena. But Boudreau, who played a season with the Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League, hopes this game sparks some hockey fever there.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow