Friday, January 18, 2013

"Thanks" for the Long Lines

I went to the Caps Fan Appreciation Special Event and all I got was this lousy... small bag of popcorn. The Washington Capitals and Verizon Center hosted a special free event last night, to thank Capitals' fans for their patience during the recent NHL lockout. The three-hour shindig was part of Fan Appreciation Week, in preparation of Saturday's season opener versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Caps fans are loyal to a fault, and showed up in droves for free concessions, autographs and an open practice. Doors opened at 6 and long, long lines formed seconds after. I arrived hungry before 7, but was disappointed to find lines 100+ deep. I managed to find a relatively short (10 people) queue for popcorn. No need to choose between small, medium and large: Guests were given a tiny sample bag, which I gnawed over as I strolled the concourse in search of real food.

Most food stations weren't open; and those that were, were packed with hungry fans. In order to get something to eat, you had to stand around for 20-30 minutes. I realize there are a few Russian-born Caps on the roster; but does that mean bread lines at Verizon Center? Sure it's free; but there has to be a better way of distributing grub (After all, management had plenty of down-time to prepare.) After two laps around the arena, I gave up and went upstairs to the Club level to watch practice (see below.)

Anyone who's been to the Kettler Capitals Iceplex for a regular Caps practice could have described last night's Verizon run... Nothing special. Why not host an old-timers game featuring ex-Caps instead? I know I sound cranky; but three lockouts in less than 20 years can do that to a hockey fan. Don't screw me, then offer me a bag of popcorn to make things square. Even our arch rival Pittsburgh Penguins offered more: Free concessions to all fans attending the team's first four regular season games, and 50% off merchandise. The Caps offered a 20% discount on regular-priced merchandise last night only. Gee, thanks: Unfortunately, I was on line for so long, I couldn't find time to stop by the gift shop. Maybe next lockout.

Long lines notwithstanding, I can't wait for the NHL season to resume. I recently drafted my fantasy hockey team (complete with Ovie and Nicklas Backstrom) and have tickets for next Tuesday's home opener against the Winnipeg Jets. Let's go Caps!