The Washington Capitals received some thrilling news before puck drop against the Buffalo Sabres. The DC government approved Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s waiver to reopen Capital One Arena for Capitals and Wizards games “effective immediately.” The approval means that Washington’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers will have up to 2,100 fans in the building on Tuesday.
Jakub Vrana and head coach Peter Laviolette responded to the news after the Capitals’ 4-3 victory over the Sabres.
"They're like an extra player for us."
Jakub Vrana and Peter Laviolette weigh on the return of Caps fans to Capital One Arena #ALLCAPS @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/yJFjNSImUl
— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) April 10, 2021
“Our fans bring a lot of energy to our arena,” Jakub Vrana said. “They’re like an extra player for us. Even if it’s not going to be full, we’ll still be happy to see people in the stands cheering for us, giving us some extra energy. We’ve been missing that. Without them, it’s been quiet out there.”
Laviolette said he was “thrilled” about the news and echoed The Snek’s comments about fans bringing more energy to the team.
“I can tell you, I’ve been here for a while — it seems like I’m an old hat of a Washington Capitals coach — but I haven’t had any fans here yet,” Laviolette said. “So I have to go back to the time when I’m the visiting coach. There’s some juice in the building in Washington and I loved that.
“I always think of fans as a relationship that works well together,” Laviolette added. “From the players’ standpoint and the game standpoint, if we can give them a reason to get out of their seats and cheer, the fans get up and they let it out. We count on them, but we’ve got to do our job, too… Hopefully those numbers keep pushing up from the 10 percent in a lot of buildings (now) to who knows where we’re at during the playoffs. That’ll give it the real playoff feel.”
One of the most excited people about the news was both a Capitals fan and a family member, Paige Dowd, who wrote on Twitter that she was “excited to go for Nic’s 300th” career game (April 27 against Islanders) and take their son Louie to his first hockey game.
Day made! Can’t wait to take Louie to his first game 🤍🏒🙌🏼 https://t.co/2Yx4GjYkPj
— Paige Dowd (@paigedowder) April 9, 2021
Alex Ovechkin liked an Instagram post about Capital One Arena reopening while Tom Wilson wrote “can’t wait to see everyone” on an Instagram Story post which showed him smiling during the Sabres game.
“We’re all excited,” Laviolette said. “Even just family coming back to games. Fans and families and friends, just makes it a lot more exciting for everybody. So we’re really happy with the news. Happy to bring our fans back into our building.”
MSE is planning on releasing its plans to host fans on Monday.
“For all the Caps fans out there, we’re really looking forward to get you back in our building and getting behind us. It’s been a long time,” Laviolette said. “Looking forward to seeing you shortly.”
Headline photo: Greg Chernack
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