Capitals: Here We Are Now, Entertain Us

Posted February 16, 2012

Alex Ovechkin tries to put on a show against San Jose. Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

If there ever was a line from a song that has stuck with me as a mantra when I donate my time and money for a film, sporting event, or any form of entertainment, it’s the one from Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ from their hit album Nevermind.

Whether I’m interpreting Kurt Cobain’s line the way he intended isn’t the point (for all I know he was singing directly to a needle and a spoonful of heroin). When I attend a Washington Capitals game, more than anything, I expect to be entertained. This was true in the years before the lockout, during the rebuilding process, and now, in the time of great expectations.

With the recent announcement of season ticket price increases for next season, the murmuring I’m hearing, quite simply is, ‘Why should I pay more for tickets when the team is playing so poorly?’

And that’s the dilemma. No one wants to pay to be let down for anything. We’re not just talking about routine losses here, but watching what’s often described as systematic dysfunction (by millionaires). If no one wants to pay $10 to watch Tom Cruise put on a lousy performance in an over-hyped film, I’d venture to say that few want to pay $75 to watch Alex Semin, who makes $6.7 million a year, have little impact on a game.

To be fair, the organization realistically can’t wait for a winning streak to announce ticket increases, and fans would be foolish to make a decision whether or not to buy tickets based solely on recent play. There is plenty of time for the Capitals to make the price increases seem like a bargain. We’ve seen them run away with the President’s Trophy, only to lose in the first round. We’ve seen them struggle in the regular season, change systems, earn the first seed in the conference, and get swept in the second round. What we haven’t seen in recent years is the late shot of Pulp Fiction adrenaline to the heart. What can be more entertaining than that?

Can they do it? Can Alex Ovechkin start scoring again like his old self? Can Tomas Vokoun do what he set out to do when he took a huge pay-cut to join this team? Can Dale Hunter’s system start working (consistently, at least)? Can the Caps make the playoffs and defeat a top seed? The answer, across the board, is yes, and fans won’t be surprised if it happens, because they’re still expecting it every time they spend even a moment of their time to pay attention.

No matter what happens in the coming weeks, high hopes remain until they’re completely eliminated from playoff contention, and the stage is set for what can still be one of the most entertaining stretches in years. Capitals, the fans are coming. Here we are now, entertain us.