A Tribute to Tarik el-Bashir

Posted July 30, 2010

As many Capitals fans already know, The Washington Post’s Capitals writer, Tarik el-Bashir, will no longer be covering the Capitals after five seasons on the job. We here at Capitals Outsider will now reveal the ugly truth about how he worked behind the scenes to create the high quality content that Washington devoured during the team’s rise to prominence.

Tarik got the best seat in the press box during home games. Little did he know that all Washington Post Capitals beat writers get that seat, and it had nothing to do with the job he did during the Islanders’ collapse. After each game, Tarik grabbed his dinky laptop and made a mad dash for the press elevator, body-checking reporters along the way so he would be first in line to the locker room. But he didn’t always show up there on time. Once, Alex Ovechkin spoke to reporters before Tarik arrived, and Tarik scolded Ovie for not waiting for him.

The locker room is a virtual free-for-all for reporters, and Tarik was a master at shoving his way through and reaching over people’s heads with his recorder to get a critical soundbite of a player saying, “We played well tonight.”

Before the coach’s press conference, the reporters filed into the press room and took any open chair, but Tarik always entered through the door that Bruce Boudreau uses, which temporarily made the other journalists think that Boudreau had arrived before disappointment settled in. However, knowing that newspapers were on the decline and that blogging was on the rise, Tarik was humble around the web-only journalists, allowing them to use all available seating as he stood sheepishly to the side.

Then came the press conference. Tarik asked the opening question so often that it confused Boudreau if he didn’t. During the Capitals’ 14-game winning streak last season, Tarik asked Boudreau about the streak after each game, and each time, Boudreau rolled his eyes as if to say, “I answered that last game!”

Tarik put in many hours covering the Capitals, but much of the credit should have gone to the Post’s NHL editor, Lindsay Applebaum, who patiently edited the curse words out of his submitted copy and propped him up for the cameras when he went on Washington Post Live to debate Michael Lee about how hockey is better than basketball.

In all seriousness, Tarik el-Bashir is an excellent, professional journalist who was the best source of information about the Capitals. Without him, bloggers wouldn’t know who to turn to when they needed to write their own versions of his latest article for their sites. Now, Tarik will be moving on to cover NASCAR and Georgetown basketball. As if anyone cares about that.