By Rachel Cohen
February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL. To celebrate, the Caps are hosting a variety of events throughout the month of February, including the team’s first Pride Night and a visit by the entire United Arab Emirates women’s hockey team and stick-handling superstar Fatima Al Ali.
Other highlights include special events with the American Special Hockey Association, a Black History in Hockey night, and a Military night featuring the annual camouflage jersey auction.
The team will host participants from the American Special Hockey Association during the Feb. 4 game against the Vegas Golden Knights. The participants will also play an on-ice game at intermission. Caps captain Alex Ovechkin has been very involved in the ASHA over the years, after befriending Washington Ice Dogs player Ann Schaab. He even won them a car during the 2015 All-Star game, which the organization raffled off for charity.
UAE women’s hockey team player Fatima Al Ali will return to DC Feb. 7-12, and this time, she is bringing her teammates along with her. The entire team will participate in a scrimmage with the Washington Pride women’s hockey team, as well as drop the ceremonial face-off prior to the Feb. 9 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The UAE team’s visit to Washington is one of several stops in North America, including Chicago and Ottawa.
Fatima’s stick-handling skills went viral after Caps alumni Peter Bondra posted a video of her during a visit to Abu Dhabi during the 2016-17 season. The team later surprised Fatima with a trip to Washington, where she attended a Caps game and took some superb selfies.
Feb. 20 is the Caps’ annual Military night. The team will wear special camouflage warm-up jerseys, as well as use special camo tape on their sticks. The jerseys and sticks, as well as autographed pucks, will be auctioned off, with 100% of the proceed benefiting TAPS. Members of the USA Warriors hockey team will also participate in an on-ice exhibition. You can see photos of last year’s camo jerseys here.
February is also Black History Month, and the Capitals will recognize contributions made to the team and the sport of hockey as a whole on Feb. 24 for a Black History in Hockey Night. The NHL recently commemorated the 65th anniversary of Willie O’Ree breaking the league’s color barrier.
On Feb. 27 the Caps will host their first ever Pride Night. Players will use rainbow-colored tape on their warm-ups sticks, which will be auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting You Can Play. The team auctioned off sticks with Pride Tape last season as well, as part of their Hockey is for Everyone Night, but this is the first team event specifically geared for the LGBTQA+ community. Caps goalie Braden Holtby is the team’s You Can Play ambassador, and has marched in the Capital Pride Parade the past two years.
Hockey is for Everyone Month for the Caps will close Feb. 28 with the 10th annual Congressional Hockey Challenge and Hockey Day on the Hill, when Caps players and others from the NHL will visit Capitol Hill for a briefing is hosted by the Congressional Hockey Caucus.
The Capitals will also host several clinics at local rinks and schools throughout the month of February, as well as several youth hockey themed events.
Prior to the start of the 2017-18 season, the NHL, along with several other professional hockey leagues released a “Declaration of Principles” that highlights the changes to better the culture surrounding the sport. The league also released an ad campaign to go with it, titled “Thank You Hockey.”
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