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Thank you, Ron Weber

By Kareem El-Alaily

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!

By Kareem El-Alaily  | November 10, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  | Tags:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  
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Comments

I would venture that most of the caps fans on the post site have no clue who Ron Weber is.

Posted by: GFisher1 | November 10, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

GFisher1- I agree with you (shockingly) - a lot of the newer fans have no idea who Weber is, but his praise needs to be sung. He was the voice of the franchise. Congrats Ron Weber.

Posted by: goskinsgo | November 10, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Correction to the record, Ron Weber didn't "retire" after the 1996-1997 season, was "retired" by Susan O'Malley after the 1996-1997.

But the classy guy that he's always been, Weber lets everybody think it was his idea to step out of the booth when nothing could be further from the truth.

Posted by: CapsNut | November 10, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

@GFisher & goskinsgo:
we need to learn somehow.

Posted by: j762 | November 10, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article Mr. El-Alaily

I'm a "Day-one" Caps fan and listened to Ron Weber starting in 1974. Just a magnificent announcer and a Caps Lifer. Surely many old Caps fans loved listening to Mr. Weber's broadcasts, and wish the new Caps ownership would hand him a MICROPHONE sometime. He's that good!

Used to listen to Weber and the Caps on 1500-AM, at night, from Norfolk VA, Melbourne FL, and even New Orleans, where the booming signal could be heard clearly.

Mostly I credit Mr. Weber with keeping early Caps fans hopeful during the woeful first six years. He sure savored the occasional Caps win, and I remember several of the we-finally-beat-them games where Washington defeated Montreal, Boston, Buffalo and the Islanders for the first time, after dozens of defeats.

And Weber had a classic almost-baritone announcer's voice -- was always informed at game time -- and gracious in both victory and defeat.

Hey Ted Leonsis -- Give Ron a Microphone!

Posted by: yuri1 | November 11, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't wait for him to go. He might have been a decent baseball announcer, since the game is as boring as his delivery was. I always hated nights when a game wasn't televised and I had to listen to him.

Posted by: buzzardbait | November 11, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Buzzardbait, you are entitled to your opinion, but it's a mighty lonely one.

Posted by: capsfan77 | November 11, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Ron was the consumate professional. He was in an era of great hockey broadcasters. His knowledge of the game and stats was unsurpassed and he had to make the game interesting in years of ineptitude on the part of the franchise.

Posted by: bundy44 | November 11, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I think it's pretty well-documented that Weber didn't retire, but was poop-canned.

I don't see why Weber would try to suggest otherwise and doubt he does.

Weber is still better than Kolbe. I don't think the Caps will win the Stanley Cup until they right the wrong.

No team has the right to win a Stanley Cup until they take care of the radio booth.

At minimum it means getting rid of Kolbe. Letting Weber do a few games would be nice too.

And, Mr. Snyder should be taking notes in Landover too......

Posted by: CF11555 | November 11, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Ron Weber was the greatest, grew up listening to him and Kolbe doesn't come close to comparing. Absolutely deserves to be in the Hall. (And I can't figure out why Caps fans need to still tolerate Kolbe - no better options, seriously?)

One thing, Kareem - not sure about your memory of the 12-2 game, that was at the Cap Centre. Maybe you're thinking of another game.

Posted by: katzistan | November 11, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@Katzistan,
You're right. It wasn't the 12-2 game from 1990 that I'm referring to. That was indeed a home game. It was the 10-3 win against Quebec in November 1991 that I should have referenced. Got my memories mixed up. They always say it's the first thing to go...

Kareem

Posted by: topshelf_22304 | November 11, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"You're right. It wasn't the 12-2 game from 1990 that I'm referring to. That was indeed a home game. It was the 10-3 win against Quebec in November 1991 that I should have referenced."

1991! A little off topic here, but who from this audience was present - or listening to Ron Weber - on the night of the Caps' worst defeat of all time? December 1991: I was in Cap Centre for the 8-6 loss to the NY Rangers, where the Caps gave up eight unanswered goals after going up 6-0. Seems that Mike Liut was in goal that night. Angry Cap fans were launching beer vessels onto the ice after the final horn ...

Unlikely that will ever happen during the Reign of Ovechkin

Posted by: yuri1 | November 11, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

@Yuri1,
Yeah, I remember that 8-6 loss to the Rangers. I think both Ridley and Pivonka had hat tricks before the team melted down. The Rangers were good that year, I think they finished first or second in the NHL with the Caps finishing third.

If I recall correctly the 1991-92 was the season the Caps started off on fire, played medioce through the middle half of the season and finished very strong. I also remember that the Caps discovered an offense and had no problem scoring that year. Had we still had Scott Stevens - whom we should have never let depart - my bet is that we would have beat the Penguins and made some noise in the playoffs. It's not like we were intimadted by the Rangers as we'd beat them in the playoffs the previous two seasons.

With hindsight the 91-92 Caps were a very good team, but the core players (Ridley, Hunter, Iafrate, Langway, Dino) aged quickly and/or got injured in the following seasons and we never really saw that level of play again. Too bad.

Kareem

Posted by: topshelf_22304 | November 11, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Thank you everyone for trip down memory lane. I also loved/slightly annoyed by some of the Mr. Webers calls. never really got Ms. Twiddle.....

Also, as a 13/14 year old, walking to my after school work, or on a saturday shift. I used to love listening to Ron Weber's call (could not see really get cable or channel 20 was not showing).

Can not forget those late night west coast games in Winepeg, Edmonton, etc. Most of the games we would not win, for some reason we could not beat calgary, or winepeg out there.

Thank you Mr. Weber for lots of great memories...hate to be hater, but not sure why caps went from Weber to Kolbe, he mostly screams, i could see firing weber if there was a Herzog, or someone better out there. Sorry Steve, but you are painful to listen to.

Final memory: my first introdcution to hockey was while making collection calls for the washington post route in my high rise building. As i waited for this customer to write the check for the month, there was this strange thing on TV. Caps were playing Montreal, those days we had not beaten Montreal that often (sort of like last year).
Had no idea what hockey was, but from that day on, i became a CAPS fan, and have not looked back since, even through many heart breaks.

thank you again for the nice drive down memory lane.

Love you Ms. Twiddle...(i think)

Posted by: hunter321 | November 13, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Ron Weber was my favorite broadcaster of all time. He introduced me to the Capitals and NHL on WTOP 1500, during the late 70's and early 80's.
I also remember his broadcasting. He wasn't great. When you'd listen to Ron, he was like "Stevens dumps the puck in, and boy does Scotty like the all-you-can-eat at the Cheasapeake Bay Seafood House. OH THERE'S A TERRIBLE LOOKING GOAL BY TONELLI, Isles lead, 1-0!"

Yep, just like that. LOL, I didn't care.

Posted by: pga6 | November 14, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

I want to forget that stupid David Poile era that Ron Weber was so much a part of (no fault of Ron's). Poile is the grim-reaper for goal-scoring forwards. If the Preds had the nads to go after Gaborik last year, and deal for Spezza this year they would be an instant Cup contender.

Ron Weber was grossly overrated and I never cared for him. I do have nostalgic memories of snuggling with my "transistor" radio and listening to the Caps on a West Coast swing -- one night playing the Kings with Pete Peters in net. But thats Caps nostalgia, not Ron Weber. I for one, love Steve Kolbe. He is awesome!!!

Posted by: Political_Stratgst | November 15, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

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