Thank you, Ron Weber
Ron Weber finally received his overdue induction into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame this week. Mr. Weber was the radio voice of the Caps from 1974-1997, never missing a game in 24 seasons. Many folks have sung Mr. Weber’s praises over the past few days and I will too.
When I think of the icons from the tough, gritty Capital teams of the 80s and 90s I think of names like Rod Langway, Dale Hunter, Scott Stevens and Kelly Miller. Ron Weber is also on that list, because it was Mr. Weber who explained hockey to us newbie fans and talked us through the night as we listened to games that weren’t available on HTS or Channel 20. I always appreciated Mr. Weber’s direct, objective style and never once minded his pro-Caps homerism, which he eloquently exuded without ever deriding opponents.
Mr. Weber was certainly guilty of wearing his heart on his sleeve. You could tune in to a game and quickly tell if the Caps were winning or if the game was out of reach solely by his tone. If Dale Hunter suckered me into being a Caps fan with his Game 7 goal against the Flyers it was Rob Weber who permanently reeled me in with his eternal optimism and unwavering loyalty to a team that routinely broke our hearts.
Speaking of Hunter, my favorite Ron Weber-ism was when the radio discussion would turn to No. 32, with Mr. Weber routinely noting that Hunter was hated in 19 of the 21 NHL rinks that housed hockey teams at the time. The exceptions, he happily explained, were Washington and Quebec City, two cities where Hunter was heartily cheered. So it’s no surprise that my favorite Weber call was a regular season game at Quebec in
1990 1991 where the Caps won 12-2 10-3. When Dale Hunter touched the puck the fans in Le Colisee went nuts – and Mr. Weber made sure we knew why. About halfway through the game the fed up locals turned on the Nordiques and cheered every Caps score like it was their own. It made for a surreal listening experience each time the crowd roared as Mr. Weber, almost apologetically, would acknowledge yet another Caps goal. But what made this night unforgettable to this teenager was Mr. Weber’s behavior in the booth. Although he could have made a spectacle of the Caps most dominating performance ever in a single game, he didn’t. To me, that was the epitome of class.
There is one thing I wished for Mr. Weber that never happened. He retired after the 1997 season and of course the next year the Caps made their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. That must have been bittersweet for Mr. Weber, who toiled 24 years without ever calling a Stanley Cup finals match for his beloved Capitals. My wish was that Abe Pollin would have let him call the first period of Game 1 before turning the mic over to Steve Kolbe. To me, it would have been a perfect tribute to the person I considered to be the longest-tenured Capital ever. That never happened, but you know what did? The Hall of Fame came calling, and that's quite a bit more significant than my fleeting wish. Mr. Weber's name is now permanently etched alongside the greatest names in hockey. And he goes in as a Washington Capital!
On behalf of this Caps fan, thank you Mr. Weber!
Wait, let me do that again.
On behalf of ALL Caps fans, thank you Mr. Hall-of-Famer Ron Weber!
| November 10, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories: Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily | Tags: Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily
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