During several games through the 2017-18 season, 18-year-old Reilly Evans of Arlington, Virginia, plastered herself along the Capital One Arena glass and held up a bright sign during warmups.
Her sign wasn’t a cheap pop for a puck or a love note to Tom Wilson. Reilly’s signs were simple, yet deep and philosophical – especially for a team that has suffered through so much postseason failure.
On December 12 before the Caps 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche, Reilly brought a fluorescent yellow sign that read, in big bold marker, REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN!.
During another, a January 11 game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Reilly’s sign read YOU’RE ALL TALENTED
Finally, later in the year, Reilly wrote on fluorescent green poster board ALL OF YOU ARE NICE! HAVE FUN!
The YOU’RE ALL TALENTED sign from January went viral on Twitter, garnering approximately 1,000 retweets and 4,000 favorites.
Postive Sign Girl is back at the game with another positive sign pic.twitter.com/Dh8eesRtMA
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 12, 2018
Vice’s Liam Daniel Pierce even wrote about Reilly saying that Positive Sign Girl is the hero we need right now. Reilly “is all about making people feel good about themselves. Finally, a leader in Washington who knows what’s up.”
I spoke to Reilly about her newfound fame this season.
“I was inspired to make the sign because I just wanted to show something positive and something different from what you would normally see,” Reilly said to me in an interview. “I also just wanted let the players know, Caps and opponents alike, that all of them are extremely talented. I think some players get kind of crushed under the pressure of being successful so much that they forget that what they are doing is incredibly difficult and they should be proud of themselves.”
The pick-me-up signs follow an attitude that Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is trying to instill in his team. When the Stanley Cup-wining former player was asked what his secret was for winning in the postseason, he told Mike Vogel this.
“Last couple years, we put pressure on ourselves. It might have taken a little bit of the fun out of the game,” MacLellan said. “I think it’s important to have fun and enjoy this time of year. It’s not about the pressure of winning, it’s about the pressure of competing and playing your best at this time of year.”
The players have echoed that vibe.
“It’s just fun,” Alex Ovechkin said of playing the Penguins.
“Somebody’s going to beat them eventually, so let’s get excited about our opportunity,” Matt Niskanen said to The Washington Post. “Maybe we’re the team to do it.”
“If you’re going all the way you gotta beat all of them… it’s a new year, a new team,” Backstrom said. “It will be exciting.”
For a fan base that has been beaten down by nine out of 10 series losses to the Penguins and so much heartbreak in the postseason, this optimism is a different tone and it’s the one Reilly wanted to strike.
“I mean, there’s been a lot of negativity around us lately, maybe these posters have helped fend off the bad vibes,” she said.
So for the Caps second-round series against the Penguins, I turned Reilly’s work into printable signs. Click on the images and hit print to bring yours to Games One, Two, Five, and Seven.
Or if you’d rather be more negative and show the Penguins you wish them no positivity at all, you can print this out.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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