Tuesday afternoon, I had the pleasure of representing RMNB at the Capitals Media Fantasy Camp from the practice home of the Caps, Medstar Capitals Iceplex. Representatives from all of your favorite local media outlets were hosted by the team and its staff to a day of all things hockey.
First, we were shepherded into the Capitals locker room and greeted by a short welcome speech from head coach Todd Reirden. There, Todd showed us a video screen in the room that the coaches put drills on prior to practice so players know exactly what they will be getting into that day. He also let us know that he likes to keep things updated in the room design-wise as it initially was just the fully wooden look of the player stalls without any real color.
Next, we got a presentation from Caps assistant coach and head of video, Brett Leonhardt. In the presentation, ‘Stretch’ first took us through how the Capitals coaching staff pre scouts teams and sometimes individual players. He let us know that Caps assistant coaches split the workload, but sometimes may have to watch five complete hockey games in one day, depending on how busy the upcoming team schedule is. He also gave us some cool insight into what goes into challenging both missed offsides and goaltender interference calls. One thing that the Capitals do that not every team in the NHL does, is look at literally every single zone entry in a game (in real-time) to determine if it was offsides or not just so they can be prepared in case of a goal scored against. Stretch even joked that they sometimes hope for a goal scored against if they know the entry was offsides just so that they can win the challenge.
Our final section of the locker room talk was given by Caps head equipment manager, Brock Myles. Brock showed us a new piece of equipment made by a company called “Catapult”, that every Caps player will be wearing under their jerseys during practice this season. The product itself is a small wearable monitor that slips inside a pocket of a sports bra type vest and will relay player specific information to the strength and conditioning staff of the team.
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After the locker room talks, we all headed to get dressed and get out on the ice for some drills led by a few familiar faces. Stepping on the ice with us for this part of the day were Caps assistant coaches Scott Arniel, Reid Cashman, and Blaine Forsythe, television giants and Capitals alumni Craig Laughlin and Alan May, Capitals defensemen Alexander Alexeyev and Jonas Siegenthaler, and Olympic Gold Medalist Haley Skarupa.
The three drills consisted of skating, puck-handling, and shooting. On skating were Cashman and the stoic Siegenthaler. Siegenthaler, when approached by someone to wear a mic for the festivities, very on-brand replied “I don’t think I’m going to say anything”.
On puck-handling were Arniel and Alexeyev. Alexeyev smiled when I mentioned his recent TopGolf adventure, asked me if I liked his golf swing, and told me that he’s going to “of course” make the team out of camp this season.
On the shooting drill was Locker, May, Forsythe, and Skarupa in a session where I displayed that I still cannot lift a slap shot off the ice even with years of high school hockey experience.
(That’s me with the yellow Ovi laces)
The last part of the day was the media scrimmage where my white team coached by Craig Laughlin got absolutely demolished by the Alan May-led red team. The scoreline doesn’t matter because I got to pass the puck to an Olmypic Gold Medalist at least twice and that was my day made. This is the part where I also tell you that I haven’t skated in close to four years and a reminder that absolutely nothing can prepare you for being hockey winded. It’s different than regular winded, I promise. The scrimmage then wrapped up and led to my secret favorite part of the day where I snuck back an adorable little girl hockey player that asked me “Is that really Haley Skarupa?”, who went into a form of shock when she got to take a picture with clearly someone she idolizes.
I would like to thank all of the Capitals PR staff that put the event together, as well as the MedStar Capitals Iceplex staff and members of the Caps organization for such a fun day.
Photos: William Daski
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