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I hear rumors these days that Capitals games are becoming a hot ticket. As a dyed-in-the-wool Caps apologist since attending my first games in 1983—back then, I was apologizing to my dad for falling asleep during the second period—I know better. The true die-hards, the season ticket-holders who even made it through the lockout, have heard this melody before. Hockey still has a long way to go in this town, even if the Caps are, for the first time since 2003, in the playoffs.
My Best of D.C. would probably include the arena’s great downtown location, the proliferation of great restaurant options pre- and postgame, the quick access to drinking establishments both fine and shady following a heart-rending loss. They distract from the anguish, but they also benefit the team by luring my nonhockey friends into Verizon Center when I offer my extra ticket. Of course, they have to sit through my patient explanation of the offsides rule for the 17th time this season just before I jump out of my seat to berate a blown call or to heckle Crosby. They may not understand the nuances of my chosen sport, but they feel my pain.
It’s April, a time of hope for the Caps, and my fingers are crossed. With the arrival of a bona fide MVP in Ovechkin and the advent of talented youngsters like Backstrom, Semin, Green, and Morrisonn, the team finally has kids who want to win more than anything, maybe even more than the long-suffering fans.