Saturday's inaugural Capitals Convention received generally favorable reviews. I've attended many an all-day convention in connection with my daily paid labors, enduring endless prattling, while straining to mine the few nuggets of useful information presented. First met upon arrival at the facility by garish art-work, and all seated within indistinguishable yellow-tinted meeting rooms, Saturday initially felt uncomfortably familiar. But being ensconced in such a setting, richly discussing Capitals hockey, was a magical, alternate universe.
It was a comprehensive event on a rainy Saturday at the "National Harbor." A place which location confounds Google maps and GPS, but where knowledge both fundamental and salary-cap nuanced was dropped, and incredible stories by Capitals legends told. Importantly, an opportunity for the scores of fans which have joined the cause over the previous two seasons to broaden and fine tune their perspectve on a new-found obsession.
Perhaps, also for some, a reality check.
We sauntered into Deputy Commissioner of the NHL Bill Daly's "State of the NHL" session, one were he sat at a long table, as a single panelist, late in the afternoon. Before a crowd of what seemed fewer than 50 red-clad Caps supporters. A turnout in painful constrast to the burdgeoning hordes who witnessed, for example, the "Droppin' the Gloves" panel (powered by the inestimable Alan May) just an hour ago, it was, frankly, embarrassing.
But the real cringe-worthy moment arrived when the privileged Q&A session with the second-in-command of the league, a rare and cherished opportunity, devolved into a peppering of inane questions directed to Mr. Daly, such as: Why does the league continue to favor Sidney Crosby over Alex Ovechkin? Why is Ovi not marketed by the league? (Recent whirlwind tour in Manhattan notwithstanding, I guess.) Why did decisive calls in the playoffs, versus the hated black and gold, always go against the Caps? "How can this injustice persist?" became a common cry. (And word on the streets within the biodome-like dining and drinking complex adjacent to the convention hall was that this line of questioning dominated the officiating seminar as well.)
To all of which Mr. Daly, somewhat exasperated, ultimately, and incisively replied, after rational and truthful responses did not prevail: "There should be no inferiority complex if you're a Washington Capitals fan."
Indeed. We're all better than this. The wounds of last spring (and many prior springs) were deep, but it's time for healing and recovery. There is no conspiracy. Onward and upward, Caps brothers and sisters!