I remember earlier this season finding my seat for a Caps/Thrashers game and looking at nearly an empty section to my right and a sparsely filled one to my left. I felt frustrated that DC had turned it's back on the team and on the sport. I felt sort of selfish too, thinking that maybe it wasn't a bad thing that the stadium was just pulling even and I had a whole row of seats to myself. They were playing for just me.
Now, the Caps are just a game or two out of a playoff spot. Now everything has changed. I was talking to a few friends about how important this home stand was to finish the season, when they chimed in they were shut out from getting tickets. Excuse me? Beg your pardon, did I hear you right? No I had heard them right, the Verizon Center was sold out.
To put it in perspective, in DC the Redskins are king and the rest is just stuff to do during the off-season. But Cap fever seems to have choked the city. Even with a brand new stadium, the Nats game saw a spattering of Capitals' sweaters and fandom around. And now I have to find some Red to wear to the "Red Out." Playoff hockey may not be here (yet), but the Capitals are back. The fair weather fans are starting to see some sun.
Sold out seats usually means the Penguins are in town, but this is for the Hurricanes. Maybe it's 62 goals that's bringing them in, or two points from a divisional title, or Uncle Ted's brilliant marketing. Whatever the reason, seeing the Caps logo around town is a sudden change and a welcome sight.
Instead of a quick trip to get beer and pretzels, it's a planned excursion that includes waiting in longer lines. Empty rows now have raucous fans. And a Caps hat or jersey here and there at Tyson's Corner gives hope for the franchise after all.
But it begs the question, where have you all been? We sorely missed you. But we are happy you are back. Maybe you're just curious about Alex Ovechkin (yes, he is that good every night), or wrapped up in the race to make the playoffs, or just realizing that Washington has a hockey team.
I think I speak for a lot of us by say we are happy to have you all back at the phone booth. LET'S GO CAPS!