After attending the Predators – Capitals game on Saturday with a friend new to hockey, I came to a sudden realization. The Capitals are pretty much the only local pro team that is resisting the giant sewer of suckitude. With their winning ways, it’s an easy bandwagon to jump on, something I pointed out first last spring.
To that end, we’ve got some new fans showing up at the Verizon Center (I still refuse to stoop to calling it “the Phone Booth”) to cheer on the Capitals. So why not lay out some ground rules and info for you newcomers to the great game of hockey? Besides, it’s a good refresher course for out out-of-town visitors and rabid fans in general.
I give you the “Unofficial Guide to the Washington Capitals Fan Code of Conduct.”
1.) Ovechkin is #8. “Ovie” is an acceptable nickname, as is “the Russian Machine” (at least, according to the creepy animation that played on the scoreboard Saturday night). When he’s on the ice, you won’t do bad to just watch him the whole time. Otherwise, you may blink and miss some highlight moves, a great goal celebration or a crushing hit.
2.) It is acceptable to roar “RED!” and “O!” during the playing of the national anthem.
3.) Unless you’re really secure in your fandom for the rival team, don’t go wearing their jersey or licensed apparel to the game. You will (most likely) be ridiculed the entire game, especially if you’re a fan of the Penguins, the Flyers or the Hurricanes.
3a.) If you are ridiculed, don’t be afraid to give it back. Stand up for your team, man! But don’t be a jerk about it. And please, come up with something better than “Your momma has buck teeth!” (Yes, that was the sum response of one lonesome Predator fan on Saturday.)
3b.) If you don’t own / can’t afford Caps paraphernalia, that’s okay. Just wear something red. The ownership just likes seeing a sea of red from their luxury boxes.
3c.) Don’t be a dork and wear a jersey from another team that’s not even in the building. I mean seriously, come on. Most newcomers won’t even recognize the logo, and die-hards will just laugh at your back – or point and laugh when you show up on the jumbo-tron dancing stupidly during “DanceCam.” [Exception: Hershey Bears jerseys are acceptable, since they're the primary 'farm team' for the Caps.]
4.) If you choose to join in the raucous teasing of out-of-town fans, refrain from swearing obscenities at the top of your lungs. Seriously. Parents bring kids to these games. Otherwise, you’re just showing yourself to be a drunken lout deserving of ejection.
5.) It is acceptable to boo the opposing team – especially their stars – throughout the game, or until your voice gives out.
6.) If you need to visit the little boys – or girls – room, wait until a TV timeout to get up. There’s usually two a period, marked when a little red light above the (if you’re facing it) left-side penalty box. The TV time out is a 90 second stoppage in play, plenty of time for you to get out of your seat and head to the bathroom. This keeps you from standing in people’s way while the game is in progress, possibly annoying others around you. When you come back, the usher will let you know when it’s okay to head back to your seat.
7.) Contrary to ornery old-time hockey fans, you do not need to know what the old conference names were, how the +/- rating works for players or what constitutes ‘icing’ in order to enjoy the game. (If you DO know these things, congratulations – you’re clearly not a ‘new’ fan to hockey.)
8.) There is not a fight every five minutes in hockey. You’re lucky to see a fight a game, actually. Unless the Caps are playing the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins or Hurricanes, that is.
9.) It’s SEMIN. Not that other word that is one letter off.
10.) You are allowed to praise Jose Theodore if the team is winning and then dis him loudly when the Caps are losing. It’s okay, he’s used to it.
11.) Cheer like mad for the Mighty Mites game between the first and second period, and give a standing ovation to the military personnel honored at each game.
12.) When you perceive the camera on you for the jumbotron, you have two options – be a complete lunatic (and earning 15 seconds of fame as “that guy” and endless ribbing from friends hereafter) or just smile big and wave. If you’re with your SO, you may enact option three: kiss.
13.) Under no circumstances should you mention the name “Jaromir Jagr” to any Caps fan in attendance…
13a.) …unless you’re a Penguins fan and love to antagonize.
14.) It’s really quite all right to be a Caps fan these days. Really!
15.) Have fun. You know what, this really should be Rule #1…
Got any more rules you want to share? Drop them in comments!