Up in the Press Box

Posted March 14, 2009
View from the press box (Ben Sumner, capitalsoutsider.com)

View from the press box (Ben Sumner, capitalsoutsider.com)

Capitals Outsider suddenly has been approved by the Capitals to get the inside scoop in the form of press credentials. So, here I am, up in the box with journalists from The Washington Post, The Washington Times, washingtoncaps.com, the Associated Press and many others for the Saturday night game against Eastern Conference rivals Carolina Hurricanes.

bruceHere’s the press drill: We enter on 6th Street, sign in, walk through the underbelly of the Verizon Center (very close to the locker rooms – I even spotted a few players). We’re given dinner before we head upstairs to sit in the press box on the 400 level. There are two sides to the press box, and two levels on each side. Eight Samsung flat screen televisions hang in front of us on each side. When a goal is scored or a penalty is taken, a separate announcement is made to the press just to make sure we get the facts straight. Before the game, the friendly Capitals press folks pass out the rosters. In between periods, they pass out the ongoing game stats, complete with time on ice data (total, power play, shorthanded). Much of this data are not even available on the web. Several packets of up-to-date info are available, including Daily Clips (complete with a Mike Vogel preview, the latest Washington Post and Washington Times articles), a huge packet of game notes with info on what each player did in each game all season, extremely detailed NHL statistics, and a Capitals supplemental statistics packet. This is where Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin get their obscure facts they mention during the broadcasts.hurricanesbags

Press box etiquette: No cheering. And no wearing your team gear. We keep it professional up here.

Though I’ve been up here before representing my former employer, washingtonpost.com, it’s been about nine years. I remember the last game I was at, because it was Ted Leonsis’s first season as owner, and the Penguins (who else?) eliminated the Caps from the playoffs when Jaromir Jagr’s shot deflected off of Calle Johansson’s skate, past Olaf Kolzig.

Tonight, the Capitals won in a shootout on goals by Alex Semin (goal, three assists) and Alex Ovechkin (goal, assist). As the fans were celebrating, I headed back downstairs and hung out near the locker room. I didn’t see much, but did see (and smell) the Hurricanes’ equipment in their bags being carted away. A bit later, Coach Bruce Boudreau came out to the podium and took questions from journalists. I had the opportunity to go into either locker room, but passed. I’ve been in them before. The players are trying to get clean and dressed while journalists are interviewing them, and that’s about it.

So, there you have it. That’s life in the press box. Not a bad gig, huh?