Newcomer’s Guide to Capitals Hockey

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

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.”

Photo courtesy of
‘Ovechkin in the Spotlight’
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’

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.]

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’

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.

Photo courtesy of
‘Proud to Be a Caps Fan’
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’

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.

Photo courtesy of
‘Mighty Mites!’
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

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!

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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18 thoughts on “Newcomer’s Guide to Capitals Hockey

  1. it is not acceptable to roar “O!” during the national anthem.

    DC is NOT baltimore.

    the end.

  2. Agreed with dcvoterboy. ‘O’ & frankly ‘Red’ should be spoken / sung as normal.

    Also, the “all your fault” chant, while not mentioned above, is never acceptable as it really is the dumbest chant in all of hockey.

  3. Eh, I’m actually indifferent to the “red” and “o” in the anthem. Most at the games seem to enjoy it, though, and that makes the experience a little more unique.

    Can’t fault Caps fans for their enthusiasm, so I won’t. :)

    And dez, that’s exactly why I didn’t include that chant above. Hopefully it’ll die a quiet death…

  4. It’s never okay to yell “O” during the anthem. Same for “Red”

    Just sing along. That sounds so incredibly epic when everyone does it.

  5. Ben, Your a Pens fan. Please don’t make suggestions on how we should act at a Caps game. Better yet, write a Pittsburgh blog on how your fellow fans should act when visiting DC. And, I disagree with you, learning the aspects of icing, +/-, are essential to understanding the game and for the enjoyment the subtleties within the fast-pace of hockey.

    I add these for Ben:
    1. It is O.K. to yell at Crosby, calling him “Cindy” when he incessantly whines at calls.
    2. It is O.K. to ask Pittsburgh fans which tralier park they just came from.
    3. It is O.K. to ask Penguins fans that are romantically involved whether they are related.
    4. It is O.K. to remember that whenever they beat us their fans still have to go home to Pittsburgh.

  6. Stuart, clearly you just don’t get it.

    I am a Penguins fan, yes. I don’t deny it. But I am *also* a Caps fan, as I respect the team, their talent and their coaching (but not the ownership). And I am a hockey fan – I watch about 10-15 games a week on average and attend close to 10 a year. (Which, by the way, gives me every right to suggest how new fans should act at a HOCKEY game.) I don’t rag on the Caps in this blog; I report on them and more often than not, even praise them. (Yes, I dig but not often, not rudely, and with friendly competitive respect.)

    However, clearly you’d rather just be rude and rag – which is fine, everyone’s entitled to it – but note that it only reinforces a long-standing opinion by many that most Cap fans are jerks.

    So if you want to rag on Penguins fans, go find a Pens blog to flame – I’m sure they’ll appreciate your wit in comparing them to West Virginians…

  7. “O” and “RED” should not be yelled during the national anthem. Nothing should be yelled during the national anthem. Not “RANGERS SUCK” or “LET’S GO CAPS”, not anything. It’s rude and disrespectful. Sing if you want but don’t ruin the solemnity of the Star Spangled Banner for those who observe it.

    Ben, your list is fairly comprehensive. It’s too bad I wasn’t at the Preds game to give you the complete Caps game experience.

    Full disclosure: I have a special place in the coldest depths of my black heart for Pens fans. The Pens are my least favorite team and my first impulse when I see a fan in a Lemieux or Crosby sweater is guarded hostility. However, I do know a few who are cool and some who are very close friends as well, so I know you’re not all bad. Don’t let Stuart rile you up.

    Oh, and how strange that the 2 photos you have in here of fans feature me and Goat. Ironical!

  8. I guess I’m not seeing what the big deal is. If the article were full of anti-Capitals venom or something like that, sure, but I’m not seeing any of that here. Very enjoyable article that could just as easily apply to almost any NHL game around the continent (other than the national anthem stuff). All I see is a Caps fan trying to start a fight.

    Then again, as a Bruins fan I politely wish both of your teams a swift demise in the postseason. ;)

  9. Ben always tries to be objective and he comes off as an above-average Pittsburgh fan.

    I had a long paragraph in my mind, but in reality it can be said the #1 for Pittsburgh fans is — get over yourselves. You are as big of frontrunners as other fans and if Pittsburgh was so special, you’d still live there instead of here.

  10. One thing that was missed is to resist the desire to lean forward in your seat all the time. If everyone just sat back in their seats we could all be comfortable together.

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  12. Why not mention that tickets are only $5 in the 3rd period? Or that Eagle’s Nest seats (Row Q in the Upper Deck) are always $10? If it’s scary ticket prices that keep people away, that’s two ways you can go to a game for pretty cheap. There really aren’t that many terrible seats at the Verizon Center.

    Or how about letting them know where to get Guinness on the first floor? :-)

    How about letting them know that the traditional rivals are the Penguins and Flyers?

    It’s actually not acceptable to shout RED or O during the anthem, but people do it anyway.

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