Chris Bourque Says Goodbye to the Hershey Bears, Again

Chris Bourque announced Thursday that he will not return to the Hershey Bears for the 2018/19 season. Bourque signed a one-year contract with the Capitals franchise in 2017 and became a free agent this summer. There is no indication that the 32-year old has signed with another team, but given his penchant for playing just about anywhere, it is possible we will see his name associated with another team soon.

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Chris has always been a favorite up in Hershey. He is one of the nice guys who comes from hockey royalty. His father, Ray Bourque, leads the NHL in the highest number of career goals, assists, and points for a defenseman. He has more awards then most players in the NHL and set the bar high for his sons.ryan bourqueChris’ brother Ryan once too played with the Hershey Bears and has four medals from the International Ice Hockey Federation as well as World Hockey medals.

Chris made a name for himself in the hockey world. He was selected to represent the United States as part of the USA Hockey Team in 2018. He recorded two assists during the series. Although much of his career has been spent in the American Hockey League (AHL) he also played 51 games in the NHL, 13 with the Capitals, 20 with the Penguins, and 18 with the Bruins with eight points during those times.

Chris has been successful in the AHL. In 716 games played he scored 235 goals and 455 assists. This past season with the Bears he scored 17 goals and 36 assists showing a decline in overall points for the left winger. He has been one of the AHL’s most active scorers and someone that the crowd loves to watch play.

Previous article: Christian Djoos

Caps Parade was a Family Affair

in the days since the Capitals Stanley Cup Parade, we have heard and read a lot of negative comments about bringing children to the event. Our thought? If you were smart about it, it was manageable.

dsc_0262We love that this was a day for fathers AND MOTHERS to share the day with their sons AND DAUGHTERS! It was a little bit of history and legacy mixed together. Continue reading “Caps Parade was a Family Affair”

A Friday-Light Capitals Practice

The Caps shifted the start time for practice to 1130 and then announced that it would be an optional skate. As best we could tell from the parking lot- most everyone was at Kettler Ice Plex in Arlington. The fans sure were as the pre-playoff excitement is growing.

Evgeny Kuznetsov has what looked like a serious discussion with Washington Post beat reporter Isabelle khurshudyan.  No doubt there will be a story coming…

He took a moment out to sign a card brought of by the Ballston Mall security for a young fan. dsc_0780

The rink was full of player’s family and friends. The team store folks were struggling to help them figure out American sizing and prices. Some stopped down on the ice for hellos.

Even Friends in Cold Places met up with some of our friends from Brazil. You may remember Pedro and his wife Andrea from the snowstorm that closed out two games in 2016. They were invited back by Ted Leonsis, with the help of Wes Johnson, to watch a game from the owner’s box. The family are huge fans of the Caps and great friends of our writer, Luis Felipe Rodrigues, also from Brazil and our own Twitter King, Chris Cleveland.

 

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Any way – back to practice. The guys started with a lot of casual shooting the puck by themselves.

Eventually the goalie coaches came out to work with Philipp Grubauer and Braden Holtby.

And they got a bit more intentional with their practice But clearly it was a Friday-light kind of day for them.

They return to Kettler Saturday for morning skate at 1015 in prep for their final game of the season against the New Jersey Devil at 7 pm. And then we should know something about who will start for the Caps between the pipes.

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Jay Beagle the people’s Capital.

Mr Jay Beagle as far as I can tell, is probably in as much love with the game now, as he was when he first laced up his skates for the Calgary Royals fifteen years ago. I’ve got to meet Jay three times, once at a Caps Kids Club signing when he was injured, and twice I have run into him at Kettler Capitals IcePlex. All three times, he seemed genuinely happy to be where he was, and more than happy to interact with me and my son.

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Continue reading “Jay Beagle the people’s Capital.”

Washington Capitals Fan Club: Keeping Caps Friends Together

The Washington Capitals have a great group supporting them, on and off the ice. The Fan Club has been around since 1975, almost from the Caps beginning in 1974; developing interest in the team by connecting fans through organized events including road trips, membership meetings with media, and happenings during the off season. In addition, the Fan Club has a rich history of fund raising and donating to charity organizations, which is one of the reasons we love this group!

During the season, the Fan Club hosts monthly meetings with notable speakers like CSN’s Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and Caps TV personalities JoeB and Locker or Capitals Alumni Hall of Famer, Rod Langway. They provide many opportunities for fans to interact with the people behind the scenes that most only see on their TVs, like the on-ice officials. They keep us linked with the broader NHL hockey community by hosting visiting booster clubs and connecting with them on road trips. And while we are talking about road trips – they have several planned each year. Some members even travel in groups to the All Star Game and the NHL draft. Be sure to check out the web page for planned trips, including visiting the Hershey Bears, during the 2017/18 season.

  • And let us not forget their presence at Kettler Ice Plex. Have you seen those banners hanging over the Capitals Ice Plex? Those are compliments of the Fan Club. There is a core group—the Caps Practice Pack—that shows up nearly every day for practice. We analyze players performance and postulate who is in and who is out.

They aren’t content to just meet up during the season; they also make sure we join together during the off season. One of our favorite and fun events is the annual Nats Baseball Game.

This year they are hosting a special wine tasting event in McLean, Virginia for friends to meetup and catch up.  All this designed to keep the sense of community alive. After all, the Fan Club is more than scheduled gatherings. Many lovely friendships, and even romantic relationships, have grown out of these times together.

karl signing ballAs we said, the Fan Club is one of our favorite organizations because of their charitable giving. This past season, they (and you) donated over $12,000 to excellent charities. One special event is the annual fundraiser that includes bidding on Christmas balls signed by the players. All their events led to the Fan Club sending over $10,000 to Fort Dupont this season for their Kids on Ice Hockey Program which “focuses on providing increased opportunity, education, and inspiration to the young people of the DC area through ice skating & educational activities.” Fans also join other fans during the summer to help with the Caps Cares rejuvenation day to spruce up the rink area for the coming season.

  • In addition to this great holiday-focused giving, the Fan Club honors players for shut-outs, hat tricks, first goals, and other milestones. They honor the players by giving to their designated charities, including Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the Alzheimer’s Association, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and other children’s programs.

Stop by the Fan Club Table this season to renew or initiate your membership. And during the year, stop and vote for your favorite player of the month. Donations are then made in their name to Fort Dupont or the player’s favorite charity.

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If you are new to the Caps Family, this is the perfect way to become part of an active community. If you have been around a while, it’s a great place to share stories about the old days. And if you are already a member, invite a friend to check out their events as your guest. There is always room for more friends!

Check out their home page for all the details on the Capitals Fan Club. The Committee and Board Members work hard to make this a GR8 community with something for everyone. Come for the fun and leave with some new friends!!

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.

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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!!!

Washington Capitals: Hockey Family Extraordinaire

One of the things that makes all the change this summer difficult for some Capitals fans is the sense that the family is breaking up. The players are pretty active on social media which tends to make us feel closer to them. We have the advantage of peeking into their personal lives, the weddings, babies, and the fun they have together.

It’s hard to create the family-nature we saw this past year. The bonds have grown over the years and people like Dan and Taylor Winnik brought the friendships to new heights between Taylor’s photography and trips as teams. As some of the players move on, we are left wondering if the team can recapture the unity they had last season and if they will be able to integrate the younger players who join the roster into the “family.” We don’t know about other teams, but the Caps have a special camaraderie that continues well after a player moves on to other teams.

We saw just how close this group had become when they took two team vacations during the Bye Week.

Last summer we had the Alzner- Oshie vacation:

But maybe nothing is better than watching the players tweet one-another, either in jest or to congratulate them. And the connections have continued well after teammates move along.

There is something hysterical about Young Guns2 – Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Andre Burakovsky–especially when the ‘old dudes’ get involved:

But nothing, absolutely nothing, tops what happened when Bura got his new, two-year contract this summer. Of course, Latts got things rolling and Justin Williams took the bait:

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And it just got a little crazier with their obviously inside joke.

Once again, leaving the youngest player mystified–as were we! It all warmed our hearts!

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Throughout the years the boys have supported each other in their accomplishments – even when they are playing for other teams, or in the case of John Erskine, not playing. Erskine has been known to randomly show up for Caps games in DC or Canada. Once a Capital – always a Capital!

Of all the relationships, none can top the bromance between Latta and Wilson. The one-time roommates still give it to each other on social media. Their antics keep us in stiches–like when they dressed up as a “special couple” for the Ovechkin team halloween party.

 

Always Room at the OvechkinTable

Speaking of Alex Ovechkin – there is of course the unique homeland bond that the Russian players have. The friendships extend well beyond Caps players into the US-Russian community. They have helped one another adjust to life in the US and to learn the language and how to navigate the different culture. Alex has maintained a relationship with former Caps and old friend, Alex Semin, who was at his wedding extravaganza in July. Ovi frequently hosts family and friends at his home in McLean, Virginia. Those friendships are evident at Ketter where you can Nastya Ovekina and Varvara Orlova hanging out during practice. The Orlovs are close friends with Sergei Bobrovsky and his wife, frequently traveling together. Evgeny Kuznetsov seems to be the quiet one of the bunch, except at weddings.

 

The family atmosphere on the team boils over to the fans. Players (and their families) are quick to interact with fans when they meet them. And many of us have found great friendships in our common love for the Capitals.We have a wonderful community found in season ticket holder events, Capitals Fan Club, The Road Crew, hockey-supported events, and anywhere you find hockey being played.

The Caps inspire us and have helped to build a community that continues to grow and we have no doubt that we and the players will make the new kids feel right at home. There is always room for more friends in cold places after all….
 

Blackhawks to be Without Marian Hosea 

In a statement this morning Marian Hosea of the Chicago Blackhawks announced:

“Over the course of the last few years, under the supervision of the Blackhawks medical staff, I have been privately undergoing treatment for a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat the disorder. Due to the severe side effects associated with those medications, playing hockey is not possible for me during the upcoming 2017-18 season. While I am disappointed that I will not be able to play, I have to consider the severity of my condition and how the treatments have impacted my life both on and off the ice.”

We know there are many Blackhawk fans in the D.C. area and this must come as a blow to you. The 38 year old Hosea hails from Slovakia. The right winger has been with the Blackhawks since 2009.

We wish him a speedy recovery. 

Checking Out Beagle: 2016/17 Season Photo Review

img_7524As we wait for the NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday, we thought we would take a look back at Jay Beagle. There is something about Jay that endears him to all Caps fans. His lack of a social media presence always makes us giggle a little. He is such a clean-cut, hometown-guy next door kind of guy. He is a loving husband and devoted dad.

As a player he has been a pretty solid performer for the Caps. In 392 games he has recorded 44 goals and 50 assists. Not shabby for a bottom six player. 2016/17 was the first year he managed to play a full season–previously injuries have kept him off the ice. If you look at the numbers, this season appears to be his best year in the NHL with 30 points in 81 games.

Beagle, who has one more year on his Caps contract, was left exposed on the protection lists submitted to the Vegas Golden Knights. Rumors have been floating that GM George McPhee might pick him over Philipp Grubauer or Nate Schmidt. At 31, he still has a lot of play left in him and would be an asset to any team.

As the Caps consider how to round out the 2017/18 roster, we expect to see Jay playing with some younger new players. His experience and cool reserve could help guide them into their own successful careers. Any way you look at it, we have a thing for Beags and hope he will be back when the Caps take the ice next season.

NOVA Cool Cats: US Marshall’s vs Arlington County Fire Company Fundraiser!


Most of you know about the NOVA Cool Cats because of the great support the Washington Capitals have provided for this group, especially that from Alex Ovechkin. April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and at Kettler Ice Plex the US Marshall’s and the Arlington County Fire Company ice hockey teams skated with the Cats and put on a great game to raise awareness and funds in support of this team.

We love events like this. Organizations like the NOVA Cool Cats  (and another of our favorites, The Montgomery Cheetahs) provide a place for some very special people to participate in hockey. However, groups like these can’t do it on their own–they need the greater hockey community to support them with their time and with their dollars!! Sunday was a perfect day for doing both.

We loved being part of the crowd today. Here are some shots that Wendy Hockey and I took to give you just a taste of how wonderful events like this are for our community.

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The Cool Cats got to meet both teams and skate with them for warm ups before the scrimmage began. Final score for the match was 5-2 in favor of the Arlington County Fire Department–but both teams were winners in our book!

Funds raised today will help the NOVA Cool Cats to Special Hockey team so they can compete in the  special hockey tournaments.. If you would like to support them or the Cheetahs, please click on the links above to donate directly. And like their pages on Facebook so you can come to events in the future.