From my perspective, watching the Capitals this year has had a different vibe than any season since we first started blogging in 2009. I have sarcastically joked behind the scenes with our contributors that I only write fluffy, fun things and over the last few weeks, it’s been draining writing analysis piece after analysis piece trying to diagnose what’s going on.
Doing this site, for me, is a passion project. Our mission statement is to make hockey as fun to read about as it is to watch. I fell in love with the team at a really young age. I have never really missed any of the games — either at the arena or watching on TV — since then. I play hockey. I wear it. I talk about it all the time. This site was a hobby that allowed me to express, selfishly, my creativity, but also my joy towards the sport and the team.
But I just want to be upfront with you right now: I’m not really having too much fun with covering the team right now. The reality is: there hasn’t been much fun to write about. The interviews are mostly not fun. The team has durability issues and lots of injuries. That’s not fun. Watching games at times is punishing — in my opinion, both the style of hockey that is being played and the execution. Me, an actual practicing optimist, does not see much hope for the rest of the season even if there are injured players that are coming back soonish. The playoffs, while not out of reach, will require a long run of very good hockey to make. It’s hard to guess what’s next this year, but it does not seem like a Stanley Cup or a parade down Constitution Ave is that thing.
And wow!! That’s incredibly depressing for a post that’s titled Something positive. But all of that mush at the top there is why I’m writing this piece in the first place.
One of the best things about this site is the community. You. Hi. Imagine me waving right now. Okay, here’s the emoji 👋 to really capture this pandering but earnest moment I’m trying to have.
This site has some magic to it that I can’t quite understand. It’s become very lorge, probably because of that meteor we accidentally lucked into covering nearly 10 years ago. Some readers have met through our site and gotten married. (Really!) There are a bunch of you who have actually become my friends in real life or have started playing hockey with me. That is very special to me. And no matter what the result is with our favorite hockey team, we’re all going through this together, too. And in a weird way, that’s powerful no matter the result.
So I just wanted to try an exercise to see if it’d selfishly fill my bucket. It might be college orientation corny, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll fill someone else’s bucket that needed filling too.
I want to know one personal, fun moment that has brought you joy this season and explain why.
It could be tangentially related to hockey. It could be hockey player/experience specific. It could be something cool that happened at a game that you watched or experienced with someone else. But whatever comes to mind, I want to know what it is in the comments.
Just to get this started, I wanted to share a couple here in this article.
My son is starting to get into hockey.
One of the things as a father I did not want to do was make my son get into something or like something that he wasn’t really into. Hockey is obviously my life, but I want him to be his own man. I want Ethan to find true happiness himself in whatever way it manifests. I just want to support him.
So over the last few weeks, one thing that has been gratifying is that he has chosen to start watching 7 pm games on the couch with me as I cover games on my laptop. He is constantly asking me questions about what’s going on in the game. He’s reading the score. How much time is left. It’s like this confusing blur of moving pictures — a world he never understood previously — is now becoming crystal clear to him.
Because of all this inquisitiveness, I took him to the Hershey Bears game on Sunday. As we were going up, he drew an ice resurfacer in his art notebook (that might I add is rapidly filling up). I loved the fact the ice resurfacer was smiling. That it was happy and excited. And I loved the rainbow colors.
It made me very happy because he was excited about one of the things I love most in my life. And I may get to share some of this world with him in a high-level way if it grows.
Thanking Braden Holtby and telling his story
Over the offseason, there was a surprising report that Braden Holtby might be done with hockey. Holtby was 33 and coming off a strong season for the Stars. I did not expect this news. It felt sad — not only because his career might be over, but how it was revealed to the world. For a player that has been so unbelievably good and meant so much to this community, to see his possible retirement reported in a passing tweet with no pomp or circumstance felt off. The worst part was – Holtby is not someone who is on social media much. So he couldn’t see, for many, the profound sadness this news had on them. I wished in the moment I could have just told him all these things I saw and just thank him for his career.
And then, randomly, I did a few months later.
Holtby was a surprise guest at The Laughlin Family Foundation Golf Tournament in September. After the putting was concluded, I randomly ran into him out on the patio of the clubhouse. And all those expressions of gratitude and sadness I saw on Twitter when the retirement tweet came out, I tried to tell him. That made me really happy. And it seemed to make him happy too.
He also allowed to me to chat with him on the record and tell his story of where he’s at in his career.
That was beyond an honor and I hope I did it justice for him.
Alex Ovechkin’s records
Alex Ovechkin is 37 this year. And he looks just as good as he did last year and the year before that. He has 13 goals in 26 games this season. That’s a tad under his career goals-per-game rate, but I think that’s an artifact of the Caps’ injuries and the team’s overall scuffles.
Ovi skated with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson for most of the season last year and they were one of the best lines in the NHL at 5v5. With Wilson and his space-creating gone due to injury, Ovechkin is not the same at 5v5. But he’s still scoring and leading the team in goals anyway.
Every game I watch, no matter if the Caps lose or not, is further convincing me more and more that Ovi will eventually catch Wayne Gretzky’s record and surpass it.
Fans joke about it all the time on social media that whenever Ovi scores but the Capitals lose, it’s still a win. And while that’s silly, there is some truth in that. Watching him play hockey has been a joy and I am trying to absorb, remember, document, and celebrate it as much as I can until his career is over.
Okay, now it’s your turn.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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