By Chris Gordon
Kerry stands at attention during the Star-Spangled Banner. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
In DC, hockey seems to be all but forgotten. Not by the residents, but by many of those who come here to govern. Capitol Hill is filled with baseball and football fans, and President Barack Obama is an enthusiastic basketball fan.
A few, though, like to lace up the skates. Until he was named America’s 68th Secretary of State last year, the annual lawmakers versus lobbyists hockey game was headlined by John Kerry, a former Yale University hockey player and senator from Massachusetts. The former Democratic nominee for president appeared at the State of the Union in 2012 with two black eyes and a broken nose, injuries he sustained in a pickup hockey game.
With the Sochi games kicking off earlier in the day, Secretary Kerry, a massive Bruins fan, visited Verizon Center to wish the eight Olympic athletes from the Jets and Caps well.
Before dropping the puck between Team USA’s Blake Wheeler and John Carlson, Secretary Kerry addressed the Capitals locker room. He also talked to RMNB in a one-on-one interview. Yeah, we’re surprised too.
Check out my conversation with the Secretary of State:
You’ve traveled over 300,000 miles as Secretary of State, 39 countries.
Have I really? I didn’t know that.
You have! How do you keep up with hockey when you’re on the road? I know you’re a big fan.
Yes. Just find out what happened where we are. Read the Boston Globe, sports news.
You do keep up with it, you are a fan?
I do keep up with it. I know that we’re in first place and doing great. Johnny Boychuk is throwing big checks. You know, we’re competitive. Obviously the Caps have to get into higher gear. They’re sort of three games down and need get going. I don’t get to watch a lot of games and I don’t get to see the whole league or anything like that so I just kinda sorta catch up to a couple teams.
Now last year you had a bet with the Canadian Foreign Minister on the women’s hockey championship.
I know we did!
And you won that. Do you have one with [Russian] Foreign Minister Lavrov?
We talked about putting a bet on. We actually talked about going to a game [in Sochi], but I’m not able to because of the schedule. But, I haven’t got a bet on yet, no I don’t.
But you do talk about hockey?
Yeah, we’ve talked about it, absolutely. Absolutely. John Baird and I — you know, the Foreign Minister from Canada — were joking about putting a bet on this year’s game. We joked about the last bet. We had a good time!
Now everyone’s got a hockey injury story. You do, famously. You had the two black eyes and broken nose at the State of the Union.
Oh, I broke my nose. God, that was embarrassing.
So what’s the story behind that?
The story is absolutely true that I tripped over somebody — I jumped over somebody — to avoid tripping on them and crashing into them. And the person started to get up before I was completely over them and caught the back of my legs as I was flying over them so that it pushed my legs up and my face down, and I didn’t have time to cover anything. I just went smack! Right hard, front face, crack! I could hear it. I said ‘I broke my nose.’ Right away I knew it.
Now you’re the highest ranking U.S. dignitary to come to a game. So far President Obama has not. Do you think you can convince him?
He hasn’t come to a Caps game?
He has not come to a Caps game.
I don’t know. I should ask him. I don’t know what the deal is. Obviously he’s a big basketball fan. I don’t know if he follows the Blackhawks or what he does. I’ll ask him. I’ll find out, get a handle on it.
Well thank you very much!
Alright, man. I’m really happy to see you. Take care of yourself.
Secretary Kerry walks out for the puck drop.
Martin Erat is honored.
Alex Ovechkin flashes at smile.
Team USA member Blake Wheeler shakes hands with Secretary Kerry.
John Carlson comes out for the puck drop.
Secretary Kerry drops the puck.
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