The Washington Capitals played their first game in the bubble on Wednesday – a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. On Thursday after practice, Jakub Vrana was asked about the empty-arena experience.
While admitting there was not much difference with the actual gameplay, Vrana said there was something he deeply missed.
“I think while you’re playing, you don’t really notice [the lack of fans],” Vrana said. “The game is pretty fast, so you don’t really notice it. But basically, when you’re sitting on the bench, it’s pretty quiet. When you’re talking on the ice, you can hear a lot.”
He added, “We miss the Unleash The Fury and missing some extra energy from the fans. I can say with every team (when) they play at home, you have an extra player out there and it’s the fans. In Washington, we have the best fans. They give us extra energy. We have to deal with no fans out there. You don’t really feel anything while you’re playing. It felt a little different back in the day like you used to play, but I think it’s the same for every team. It’s nothing we can do about it.”
During the Caps-Canes game, several elements of the Capitals game experience were prevalent such as the team’s goal horn and local ads on the boards. But when asked if the team would bring back the popular pump-up video, a Capitals representative told RMNB that “we will be announcing our plans closer to the start of the playoffs.”
The Capitals first began unleashing the fury in 2007 after the team hired Scott Brooks away from the Atlanta Thrashers to be their director of game operations. In Atlanta, Brooks created a rally montage that featured highlights from “Remember the Titans”, “Varsity Blues”, “American Pie”, and Tom Green screaming, “Unleash the Fury” from the movie “Road Trip”. It was popular there so he introduced it in Washington during third periods of games.
The video was immediately a hit as Caps fans slowly began to scream UNLEASH THE FURY along with Green. Since then, the team added further flourishes to make the Unleash more effective and compelling, strategically playing it when the Capitals were down a goal or needed momentum.
Capitals PA announcer Wes Johnson also gave the Unleash further life by having his own screaming dialogue after the montage’s completion to pump up the team and fans more.
While agreeing with Vrana’s comments about the Unleash and fans, Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby admitted that things felt practically the same for him in goal.
“I actually didn’t feel different at all,” Holtby said. “I felt pretty normal. A few of the guys were saying on the bench it’s kind of a hard time, which obviously as a goalie you don’t have to deal with. I was quite surprised. It seemed like a normal game.”
7/31 Update: This morning, the Capitals coincidentally asked their fans for videos to help them recreate an Unleash The Fury video.
Unleash your #ALLCAPS Fan Fury and let your voice be heard during this year’s playoff run!
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 31, 2020
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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