Devante Smith-Pelly and John Carlson Invite Youth Hockey Team to Caps Game for Sticking It to Racism

When Washington Capitals right-winger Devante Smith-Pelly headed to the penalty box at United Center he was greeted by an unwelcoming surprise from a couple of Chicago Blackhawks fans. Typically a player in the sin bin would expect the occasional boo or fun-playful heckle but this particular group crossed the line in the most despicable way imaginable. Smith-Pelly was subjected to racial taunts including the chants of “basketball, basketball, basketball.” The Blackhawks and the NHL sent a message by banning the fans for life but unfortunately this is a problem for many athletes that still hasn’t been resolved today. To make matters worse, it’s not just the pros who have to deal with it.  Continue reading “Devante Smith-Pelly and John Carlson Invite Youth Hockey Team to Caps Game for Sticking It to Racism”

Washington Capitals and Fans: A Giving Community

Every year we the fans become part of the Washington Capitals giving community. We participate in raffles, auctions, and donation opportunities. The Capitals help make us aware of some of the great outreach organizations in our area. Many of the players extend their personal giving of time beyond the Capitals events, especially during the off season.

This past season, Monumental Sports sponsored several events at Verizon Center during game time. They raised a good bit of money (over $900,000) for the charities they support. Here are some highlights of those efforts and some special activities that the players are personally involved in during their own time.

The Caps and Inova host a blood drive about four times a year at Kettler Ice Plex. This summer participants received a Burakovsky bobblehead and had the joy of sharing the gift of life. Check here for the next date and to sign up to give. (The next donor date has not be set yet)

One of the strongest connections the MSE Foundation has in the area is with Fort DuPont Ice Arena. The Caps announced this summer that they have provided a “$20,000 grant for the second consecutive season in 2016-17 to continue to give children an opportunity to learn through sports” through the Up2Us Sports program. In June, MSE announced a donation of $12,000 to the hockey club to support youngsters who are interested in hockey. They also hosted the annual summer cleanup, donating another $5,000. The Caps frequently skate at Fort DuPont and this year hosted the youth and family at Kettler for a skate with Alex Ovechkin. You too can volunteer there to ensure hockey is really for everyone. Click here to become a friend of FDIA.

The Caps have a special affinity for the military, especially families of fallen soldiers. As part of the Salute to our Military, fans helped raise $56,000 through the auction of Caps memorabilia. Some of the players joined families of an evening of skating and story-sharing as part of TAPS. watermarked92016-12-22-2059

Hockey Fights Cancer often links with Make a Wish to raise funds to fight cancer and to support young people by making their wish to meet and skate with Caps players come true. This umbrella program brings together some of the local organizations that are there for families. MSE announced: “$63,955 for Flashes of Hope, Hope for Henry, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Leidos donated an additional $40,000 – $10,000 to each organization. Combined with proceeds from the evening’s 50/50 raffle, warm-up puck sales, Ellie’s Hats donations and the sale of Hockey Fights Cancer pins, nearly $140,000 was raised for the charities.”

We got to know Jay Coakley with Ellie’s Hats this year. This once one-man show has grown, in large part because of the exposure the Caps and Taylor Winnik gave them. This is a year-round group that now provides more then just hats for sick children but gift cards, backpacks, and other financial support all year.  Please consider helping Jay bring smiles to the little ones in our community by donating here.

karl signing ball
The Washington Capitals Fan Club is more than just a group of fans who meet up before games. They too are a generous giving organization. Every year they sell and auction off Christmas balls signed by the players. This past year they raised $10,000 for the Fort DuPont Kids. We’ll share more about their outreach and events soon.

T.J. Oshie has a personal connection to the struggles of family’s who struggle with the far reaching effect of Alzheimer’s. He revealed that his father Coach Oshie is in the early stages of the disease. This summer TJ asked fans to help support the search for a cure by donating to the Alzheimer’s Association Longest Day campaign. You can still give $77, or more, through the link.

Players have a way of giving back to the community by sharing their skills and time with others, usually in their hometowns. Many players find a way to give and to keep it under the radar for the most part. Just because we don’t hear about doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Every year, now former Cap, Justin Williams hosts JW Hockey Camp in his hometown of Cobourg, Ontario.  All proceeds go to his charity, the Justin Williams Foundation.

Tom Wilson returned to his roots in May to support his former elementary school in Toronto. During a Fun Fair, he signed autographs and

Tom’s former roommate, Michael Latta, takes time out every offseason to work with youth on their skating skills. He is a great coach, encouraging the special needs kids at camp Kid’s Abilty to go the extra distance.

Coach Trotz is an avid supporter of Best Buddies. Last October the Capitals wives and girlfriends put together a team, with the Trotz Strolling with Nolan Team, walked to raise awareness during the Best Buddies Friendship Walk on the Mall. Sign up here to walk this year on 21 October.  watermarked32016-10-16-1932

Speaking of wives and girlfriends, they have always been champions for fund raising and bringing awareness to special interests. In addition to supporting Best Buddies, they (especially Taylor Winnik) supported events with baskets to raffle, highlighting Ellie’s Hats, and of course the annual calendar that Taylor shot for Homeward Trails. Sales garnered $67,000 for the pups in need. We really will miss Dan and Taylor and the impact they made on our community.

We learned this summer that Evgeny Kuznetsov was part of a group of Russian skaters who donated donated “new uniforms to a sled-hockey team [in Chelyabinsk,” according to CSN. He, like Ovechkin, supports an orphanage in Russia. He hopes to one day open a hockey school there too.

Dmitry Orlov frequently spends the offseason supporting local charities in Russia. This year we have seen him throwing his support behind a local hockey training center.

We’re sure there is much more going on that with the players and coaches that we don’t always know about. Many prefer to do what they do quietly and privately. At the end of the day we know that hockey players have a reputation for giving and so do their fans. We encourage you to keep the giving and community outreach going over the summer and to stash a little away to supoort MSE, the Fan Club, and other great organizations during the season.

Keep Rocking the Red friends!!!

Caps Giving Continues with Seth & TAPS

Following practice today many of the players stayed after to skate with seven year old Seth Parrish from TAPS–the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors–and organization which provides care for the families of America’s fallen heroes. Seth started his morning meeting TJ Oshie and then donned his jersey to skate with the players.

Seth started his skate experience with Braden Holtby and TJ. We’re pretty sure he was running things at that end of the rink.

From there he had some three-on-one with the likes of Jay Beagle, Jakub Vrana, and Tom Wilson. Zach Sanford got in on some of the fun too.

Clearly,Tom Wilson was loving today as he, and later Taylor Chorney, spent the most time with young Seth. At one point Seth ‘knocked’ over Wilson and nonchalantly skated around Tom as he lay on the ice.

Chorney and Wilson stayed on the ice until Seth was finally ready to go. Tom tried to change sticks with him, but Seth was having none of it. Seth took a couple of breaks on the ice – first to make snow angels and then to rest in the back of the net. Tom kept asking if he was getting tired and Seth would just get up and go again. It was the cutest thing ever!!

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Eventually, Tom and Taylor convinced Seth to help them clean up the pucks and he headed off the ice with Wilson. We aren’t sure which of the three was more exhausted. All we know is they all had big smiles when they left!!

Here’s more about Seth from ABC7:

If you would like to know more about TAPS and how you can contribute to the families who have given so much for us, please click here. The Caps will host TAPS later this week for their annual skate with the players, another wonderful part of their outreach program.
Here are a couple more videos from Seth’s time with the Caps.




Washington Caps Lifting Spirts at MedStar Georgetown & Ellie’s Hats Helps Out

That’s our Captain, putting a big smile on Ryan’s face and making his wish come true!!
Following practice on Monday morning the Washington Capitals players and a few of the staff boarded a bus for Medstar Georgetown University Hospital to brighten the day for some special children  and families. This year Ellie’s Hats was one of the charity groups invited to join the Caps for this annual tradition that brings big smiles to children who might otherwise have the brightest of holidays.

Orlov and Eller with their own crazy hats!!
Ellie’s Hats provided hats for the players to give out to the children, including some Caps hats donated by Leidos as part of the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer Campaign. In addition, Ellie’s Hats brought some fun character hats for the children too.
As Jay Coakley, founder of Ellie’s Hats, found today, this visit has far-reaching impact on the lives of the children, the MedStar staff, and the players themselves. One young man had returned to the unit because this day means so much to him. His wish for today was to meet Alex Ovechkin and in that moment his troubles were lifted and his smile told the sheer joy he was experiencing. One young girl came to get a Capitals hat to send to her grandfather–thinking of someone other than herself in that moment.
And lets not forget the players themselves. Most of these men are fathers of young children themselves. Many of them are actively involved in organizations that provide assistance to children. But as fathers this visit weighed heavily on their hearts as well. There is little doubt that they will be holding their little ones closer tonight.
That said, the players thoroughly enjoyed visiting the children and the children were excited to have them visiting too! They stopped by the ICU to see some courageous children who are fighting for their lives and they sat at tiny tables and made arts and crafts with those patients who were able to join them.
Of all things the Washington Capitals organization do in our community, there is nothing more special then this tradition. Ellie’s Hats felt honored to be a part of this amazing outpouring of love from this group of men. Today, Jay heard some heartbreaking stories from the families as they struggle emotionally and financially in the battle for their children.


Please consider donating to Ellie’s Hats here. They do so much more than give out hats and your donation could make a huge difference in the lives of these families.

Check out the Washington Capitals for more great shots of the boys and Slapshot!

Washington Capitals and Ellie’s Hats Partnering for Children at MedStar Georgetown

This week Jay Coakley, founder of Ellie’s Hats, presented Medstar Georgetown University Hospital with $2,000 worth of Visa Gift Cards which the staff will distribute to families in need. This generous donation was possible because of gift from the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer campaign. Many Caps fans contributed to this campaign through the Caps’ fund raising activities in November.

This coming Monday, December 19th, Ellie’s Hats and Caps’ players will distribute hats and other surprises to children receiving care at MedStar Hospital. These hats were donated by Caps fans during the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign at Verizon Center. The Holiday Party for pediatric patients (including children fighting cancer) is part of the Capitals and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation annual outreach to children during the holidays. Jay will be there with the players as they visit with the children and he will be sharing more about the whole experience (and photos) with us later in the day.

Slapshot, Some Crazy Hats, and Smiling Children


We can’t think of anything better than a visit by the Washington Capital’s Slapshot to bring laughter and smiles to children suffering from cancer, other than some fun hats from Ellie’s Hats. That was the perfect mix on Monday when the two partnered together to bring a special holiday blessing at Pediatric Specialists of Virginia. Jay Coakley, president of Ellie’s Hats, invited Slapshot to join him to visit the clinic and entertain the children, their parents, and the wonderful giving staff. You know Slapshot–he HAD to be there!!

Slapshot met with about 15 children, taking pictures and high fiving as Jay passed out hats for the children. Why hats you ask? Many children who go through the grueling chemotherapy treatment loose their hair and their spirits may dwindle too. Founder Jay Coakley discovered that when a child puts on a fun hat, (even Caps hats)  it is the ultimate way of lifting the spirits of a child and letting their personality shine through in the hats they select.

What’s next for Ellie’s Hats?

  • They will be bringing dinner from Jimmy John’s to patients and families on the oncology unit at Inova Children’s Hospital on December 14.
  • They will attend the Holiday Party at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital and donate $2,000 worth of Visa Gift Cards to the families on 15 December.
  • They will be going to Medstar Georgetown University with the Capitals to visit the children and pass out more hats on 19 December.

watermarked82016-12-12-2044FiCP is partnering with Ellie’s Hat to encourage you to help this wonderful and wide-reaching cause. We would love nothing better than to see the hockey community flood Jay with hats, other gifts, and donations for the children. Click here to find out how you too can help.  And keep checking with us to hear more about our partnership with the Washington Capitals Fan Club and future hat drives!

Pediatric Specialist provide specialized care for children who suffer with a variety of health issues, including cancer. Click here to donate to help them.

Friends Helping Friends; Caps Family @ Fort Dupont


Like most Caps fans, I’m still upset over the Caps being eliminated in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs;  I couldn’t focus on anything but that overtime Game 6 and the Caps exit interviews where every player was so upset, disappointed and had no answers to why the Caps lost.

I had signed up to volunteer at Ft. DuPont Ice Rink to help MSE foundation, some of the Washington Capitals wives, Coach Trotz along with his family and many awesome Caps fans. We would clean, paint, organize, garden and give back to an organization that gives so much to the local community by offering ice skating and hockey to those that might otherwise never have the opportunity to skate. The Ft DuPont Ice Rink is also very involved in getting young females to discover ice skating and that hockey is even for girls!

You can imagine after being involved in so many positive things and being able to talk with fellow fans who were feeling the same way I was about our hockey team, I was able to start healing from that overtime loss and started looking forward to next season.

I was able to simply sign up through the Caps website and arrived Saturday morning at 9 am. All the volunteers  received a Rock the Red t-shirt, snacks, beverages. We had the option to sign up for painting, cleaning, yard work, re-stringing nets, or organizing hockey gear. I ended up sorting hockey gear and  I met all kinds of fans. We, had some great conversations about which team will advance to the next round. Most Caps fans did not want Pittsburgh to advance …with a smirk on my face, I agreed!  img_1482

I will sign up again next year. This experience not only helped me get through a tough loss, but I learned  it is better to give than receive. And I learned our hockey team family is such a great role model for our communities in the Washington metropolitan area.  If we focus on that part of what hockey, and sports in general, can do to help the youth of today; you can start to feel good about the direction we are heading!

Come out and volunteer with us Caps fans! You don’t have to wait for a Caps-sponsored event to be part of the giving community. It will help you get through this tough ending to the Caps season and make the summer go by much faster!

Keep Rocking the RED!!

By Mel Abernethy