For the first time in as long as I can remember — and as you know, I have a pretty long memory — the Washington Capitals did a Baltimore event last night downtown at the ESPN Zone. Left wing Donald Brashear came to the Inner Harbor for a one-hour autograph and photo event and wound up having to stay for 90 minutes because the crowd and line were so overwhelming. My guess is that more than 400 people came by to greet Brashear and talk about “rocking the red.”
As a lifer hockey fan, it was a pretty cool and unique event. Even in the days of Mike Gartner and Rod Langway, the Caps never, ever did events in Baltimore. Geez, their affiliate was here for four years and they barely made a sound inside the beltway here even when the NHL team played 35 minutes away at the Capital Centre.
We’ve been without hockey here for almost 15 years now — since Mike Caggiano and the Bandits pulled the plug — and as the only remaining media entity that still cares about and supports the puck it was a pleasure to have WNST involved. We’ll be doing at least one puck bus to a playoff game on either April 16 or 18. All of our puck buses have been virtual sellouts and the team and its staff have been a pleasure to work with from Ted Leonsis and Bruce Boudreau right on down the line. They’re not only successful on and off the ice and at the gate with sellouts for the remainder of the season, they’ve also been a class act.
There’s actually some whispering about a potential preseason game in Baltimore at some point, maybe even involving the neighbors to the north and Caps’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Or maybe they’d bring down the Philadelphia Flyers? (I’m sure it’s a helluva expenditure to get the ice and rink put together for a one-night appearance and I have no idea how that would do in September at the First Mariner Arena, but let me dream a little, OK?)
After playing three games in four days — and taking the last two on the chin — the Caps thought it was important enough to reach out to Baltimore that they brought Brashear up here on a cold Wednesday night and the fans had a great time. Brashear told me on wnsTV that every single fan thanked him for coming to Baltimore and that there were more fans here in Baltimore than there were in D.C. when he first came to the Caps.
I can’t wait until the next event.