Some normalcy in an abnormal time: Capitals Blood Drive

By Mel Abernethy

Our photographer Mel did what she always does and donated blood through the Caps blood drive. We were moved to tears and gratitude by her selfless action today.


I have done the Capitals blood drives since July 2015, that’s when my Dad passed away. Two days after he had passed, I did my first blood drive. I was so afraid of what came with donating blood: needles. But I got through it no problem and since then have gone to every blood drive the Caps and Inova sponsor.

MedStar Capitals Iceplex donor day.

Fast forward to today, March 28th, 2020 and we are smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, which asks us as responsible people to stay home. I had made this appointment back in February at the last blood drive so when notifications started coming in that Medstar Capitals IcePlex was closed, and would be closed through the donation date I started to worry. That’s where all the blood drives have been and it helps me to go there because I know it so well and there are reminders of Caps hockey everywhere which reminds me of my Dad too! Will I be able to donate?! And will they let us donate with COVID-19 health measures asking all to stay home???

Mel and her dad

Sure enough Inova moved the donation centers to three places, one being Annandale VA. I was even more excited to go. Why? I used to live in Annandale when I was in 4th-6th grades. The Woodburn donation center was less than a mile from my elementary school and less than six miles from the old house I used to live in!!

Inova Blood Donor Services assured all donators that extra health measures would be in place when you come to donate. Well, that’s all it took to convince me I needed to keep my appointment and go donate!!

I arrived right at 8am to the Woodburn donation center. The Inova staff was much smaller than the usual Medstar Capitals IcePlex staff and they were only seeing 10 people at a time. It was awesome to see the care Inova put into this to accommodate all us Caps fans who usually fill Medstar all day to donate! Inova has also offered more donation days ahead to help!


Inova donation T-shirt and John Carlson bobble head in hand, I headed out to visit my old elementary school and house, from afar of course! I’ve always gone to donate blood to connect with my Dad, give back and hang out at Medstar while leaving some positive vibes for the Caps. Today was a little different but at the same time equally therapeutic.

John Carlson Bobblehead

I was able to give back in an uncertain time that when some people may feel donating blood could compromise their health. And I got to visit a place where I knew I was safe and happy from my childhood, which helped me to grow stronger as a person. I left some positive thoughts in my old neighborhood and school to help those living there to remember to be strong and brave through these abnormal times!

Mel’s inspiration for giving.

Friends, be like Mel. There is great joy to be found in giving of ourselves for others. We need each other today and we wil need each other tomorrow. Be safe and keep social distancing!

Hershey Spotlight: Christian Djoos

Swedish-born D-Man Christian Djoos is certainly one of the guys we didn’t expect to see play for the Caps the majority of the season and through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But he did and his name WILL be on the Stanley Cup with Alexander Ovechkin and one of the best, if not THE best scoring D-men in the league, John Carlson.

When we first saw Christian Djoos at Capitals Development Camp 2012, fresh off the draft, we weren’t sure he would make it. He was looking a little smaller than other defenseman but seemed to be quick on his feet. Over the years we have seen him grow both physically and technically. His feet are just as fast now if not faster than before; however, now there are some sweet moves to back up those quick strides.

Prior to the beginning of his American hockey career he played in the Swedish Hockey League for Brynas IF Gavle. This season Djoos scored only three goals with 11 assists over the course of his 63 game stretch in the NHL. In his last season with AHL Hershey he played nearly the same amount of games but produced 13 goals and a whopping 45 assists. We think these numbers are pretty great for a guy his age (23 going on 24) at this point in his career and we expect to see much more from him this season. Just because your name is on the cup doesn’t mean you’re safe (Jay Beagle, Brooks Orpik we miss you already…).

Show us whatcha got Djoos we’re ready!!!

Just a cool little tidbit of information for you before we go- Christian’s father; Par Djoos also played for Brynas IF Gavle before and after being drafted in the seventh round in 1986 by the Detroit Red Wings. His father was up and down in the AHL and NHL system for about five seasons before heading to the Swiss league for one season and finishing the last nine seasons of his playing career in the Swedish League where he began.

Mike Richards Making the Most of His Second Chance

Monday, 22 February. Remember that as the day Caps fans everywhere celebrated Mike Richards! Richards, who joined the team on 6 January 2016, scored his first goal in a red sweater. And the crowd at Verizon Center went nuts with not one, but two, standing ovations for the former Stanley Cup winner.

About a year ago, the Caps were in discussions about possible trades come the deadline. Mike Richards was on many prognosticators radar with most writers saying the Caps should trade for him to help with the playoff push. Oh what a difference a year makes.

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Richards has been through a bit of a personal struggle the past year or so and coming to Washington after a promising career with the LA Kings would mean a fresh start for him. In typical Caps fashion, the fans welcomed him with applause the first time he joined the team for practice at Kettler Ice Plex in Arlington, Virginia.

And then we waited for what seemed like an eternity for him to get that first goal and with former teammate Justin Williams, bring us some of the Cup magic. Prior to Monday night, in 14 games he had zero points and we were all getting a little concerned for him. Monday was really a Williams-Richards night with Stick fighting hard at the net, spending four minutes in the box for two penalties, and recording an assist; the boys for LA were showing us how to get it done!!

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Old Teammates Reunited…

Richards was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003. Most recently he played with the Los Angeles Kings from 2011-2015. Richards has had a fairly solid career. In his six seasons with the Flyers he tallied 133 goals, 216 assists, 349 points and a +39. In a little over 3 1/2 seasons with the Kings, Richards posted 46 goals, 87 assists, 133 point and a -21 while winning two Stanley Cups.

At 31, he still has some years left in the tank. In last night’s Washington—Arizona game, he showed why the Caps took a chance on him. In the third, as Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue tried to press his glove to the ice to cover the puck, Tom Wilson dove and poked it away. Richards shot it in from just outside the crease, giving him his first goal since January 2015. Domingue was furious as he yelled at the refs that he had covered up the puck. The Coyotes coach challenged the goal but the refs said it was a good goal and that gave the Caps the lead for good.

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His deal with the Washington Capitals amounts to one year, one million dollars, and a chance to prove to the hockey world that he still has what it takes on the ice. We here at FiCP loved Richards and Williams as Kings, but they are ours now and we couldn’t be more excited! Here’s hoping that Mike’s redemption story concludes with the Caps hoisting the Stanley Cup come June.

 

Go CAPS GO!!!

Written by: Maggie Marcum and Chris Johnson

Photos by: Brittney Marcum and Mel Abernethy