Saturday, September 26, 2009

Capitals Host Sold-Out Inaugural Convention

Covering the Caps panel discussion

Hockey Mom just returned from the Capitals Convention and I have to give a huge round of applause to the Caps organization for orchestrating a first-class event for the best fans in the NHL! Unfortunately, I had to skip out for some of the highlights of the day including the Young Guns and Dropping the Gloves panels, as we have a kid's hockey game. But from what I observed during the four hours I was in attendance, most of the 5,000 fans in the house were having a fabulous time.

There was no shortage of things to do for fans of all ages - with all kinds of games for the kids, panel discussions on just about everything you ever wanted to know about the team, new and used Caps merchandise and a wide variety of displays and vendors. The day kicked off with the opening session featuring Ted Leonsis and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Bettman adressed a mryiad of questions from the vocal audience and noted that no fans in professional sports are better connected than hockey fans. When emcee Elliot Segal commented on how kid-friendly Caps games are, Uncle Ted drew a huge laugh from the crowd when he replied "Yeah, but would you take your kids to a Caps/Flyers game in Philly?", drawing a finger wagging from the Commish. Of course, Leonsis emphasized throughout the course of the day, that despite the successes of late, his goal is to bring a Stanley Cup to D.C. He also noted to the fans, that this is "your team."

Jon Press, Joe Beninati, Craig Laughlin, Corey Masisak, Steve Kolbe and Lindsay Czarniak

One of the most interesting panel discussions that I attended was the Cap-ology session conducted by Caps Capologist Don Fishman. Fishman enthusiastically led this interactive discussion as he addressed the hows and whys the team has stuck to their plan of building around their core of young talent.

Majority Owner Ted Leonsis with Tarik El-Bashir of Washington Post and OFB's John Keeley

Fans lined up in droves for player and alumni pictures and autographs and new Capitals merchandise (I was having so much fun I forgot to buy my Knuble shirt) was flying off the racks faster than my two teenagers can go through an all-you-can-eat buffet. After seeing the incredible turnout and hearing the buzz about this year's team from fans young and old, there should no longer be any question as to whether or not D.C. is a hockey town.

Fans line up for the latest in Caps fan gear.

Kudos to the Caps for a phenomenal event - what a great way to kick off a new season, which begins in less than a week!

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