Last night the Washington Capitals hosted the sold-out Hockey 'n Heels event at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where more than 200 women participated in on-ice demonstrations and instructional lessons with Capitals’ players, coaches and staff. The three hour event was exclusively for members of Club Scarlet – a fan club for the Capitals’ female fans that provides information, events and networking opportunities such as last night’s gathering.
These ladies knew their hockey and their team! Question and answer periods were filled with in depth discussion on the teams uniform adjustments, line changes, and lots of questions focused on the lockout. These women were not shy about asking what was on their mind and they definitely showed their in-depth knowledge of the Capitals which impressed the staff and players.
At the event, the ladies were divided into smaller groups, where they got to lace up skates and take to the ice with the team. In the first two sessions, Capitals forwards Jay Beagle and Wojtek Wolski, Assistant coach Tim Hunter and alumni Paul Mulvey took the ladies through a shooting demonstration. In the third session, Capitals defenseman Tomas Kundratek and alumni Craig Laughlin taught the group some passing techniques and in the fourth session Assistant coach Calle Johansson lead a demonstration on face-offs. The on-ice time definitely showcased some hockey talent amongst the ladies, with several ladies having some pretty impressive shots on the net. Clearly for some, this was not their first time at the rodeo.
Next up for the ladies was strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish, who took them through the team’s workout routine. By the end of this session, everyone, including yours truly, realized the players are definitely in amazing shape, their conditioning is tough and grueling!
After the on-ice sessions, it was off to the locker room, where head equipment manager Brock Myles showcased the team’s gear and equipment. A player goes through four to five pairs of ice skates per season, which can be pricey at $400 per pair. A surprising fact the ladies learned is Myles and his crew are avid sewers, traveling with a sewing machine on the road in case players need quick repairs to torn uniforms and gear.
Myles explained that each player has every piece of their uniform and gear customized, from the gloves and padding, down to the socks and skates. And aside from equipment, players are also particular when it comes to things they have at the bench. Myles said that he’s ordered multiple types of gum for players to chew on the bench, in addition to certain sodas and other necessities. “Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin has a big sweet tooth and needs some old-school bubblegum on the bench”, Myles added.
After posing for pictures near the players’ lockers (while making sure to steer clear of ruffling any equipment) the ladies headed to their last session with video coach Brett Leonhardt. He took the ladies through a film breakdown of games and opposing teams, showing how he prepares the team and coaching staff for each game. During the question and answer section, one woman in the crowd reminded everyone that Leonhardt, who played four years of college hockey in upstate New York, signed a one-day contract with the Capitals to play goalie in a game for 10 minutes (the team had actually run out of goalies). That is a pretty obscure Capitals factoid and it reinforced the ladies knowledge of their team.
At the end of the event, the Club Scarlet members said they had a great time and really appreciated the players and coaching staff giving them such an in-depth look into the workings of the Capitals. I was personally impressed with how much attention and time the team and staff took in teaching us about the team and taking us through a typical day-in-the-life of a NHL player. I will definitely be attending the Hockey 'n Heels event next season!
To learn more about Club Scarlet visit http://scarlet.capitals.com and follow them on twitter @scarletcaps.