Caps Fans vs. Crosby
Even before yesterday's game started, I received the above photo from longtime Bog photo sender Brian. Some enterprising, or possibly inebriated Caps fan was having this jersey made in the Verizon Center gift shop. If D.C. is gonna be the capital of jersey fouls, I say we embrace the title, and go all out, including verbs in our jerseys if necessary.
"The Penguins fans around me," Brian reported, "were not amused and [were] using choice words for the owner."
Well, choice words for a choice jersey, so it all works out.
Moments later, I met the fan whose possibly-in-poor-taste-but-real-amusing t-shirt I previously published. I asked him why he was wearing a shirt proclaiming Sidney Crosby to be a [feminine hygiene product].
"Because Crosby is a [feminine hygiene product]," the fan explained. "What other reason would I have? Look, the guy has a reputation for diving, he plays soft, he has no leadership qualities, he's taken a couple of cheap shots at guys. Look, when you've got the best player on the planet, it's a little frustrating when the face of the NHL is a guy who clearly isn't the best player."
A few rows away, Rachel Hart was pressed up against the glass, with her anti-Crosby shirt and her vulgarly but snicker-worthy anti-Crosby sign. Maxime Talbot skated by and laughed. "You know it's funny!!!!!" Rachel yelled at him. I asked her to explain.
"I have pure hatred for Pittsburgh," the 16-year old told me, as her mother smiled. "If you're a Caps fan, it's embedded in your genes to hate Pittsburgh. There's no one on that team you can say anything at all besides hate."
I suggested to Rachel that maybe she would take a more charitable view toward Crosby if she actually met him face-to-face. She considered this.
"If there were no paparazzi around, I might take a swing," she replied. "I can't stand him."
Next to Rachel was Rebecca Childress, a season-ticket holder with a large stuffed Penguin decked out in Caps gear. Her husband won the Penguin at an amusement park several years ago, but this year it became obvious what the Penguin's role in history would be.
"This has been his destiny," she told me. "He's gonna be here from now on. His name is Ted."
She ticked off the list of Caps fans grievances against Sir Sidney. The recent SI spread. The perceived NBC adulation. The glam shots. All those required a Penguin to help.
"He's crossed over," she said of Ted. "He's a real Penguin now. Real Penguins are Caps fans."
And I shouldn't suggest that everyone there hated Pittsburgh. Some were more cautious with their words.
"It's a rivalry," said Al Anderson. "Hate's a strong word."
Anderson, I should note, was passing out striking stickers of a Penguin with a red X through its chest. He found them in a shipping supplies catalog years ago and ordered several thousand, passing them out during every Pens game.
"People seem to go crazy when we bring them," Al noted. "As long as the Penguins are still coming here, we'll still hand them out."
While Anderson shied away from the hate thing, there were plenty of others to take his place. Like Marty Bentley, who also had a stuffed penguin. Except his came complete with detachable head, sharpened stick and acrylic paint-style blood, spattered across the Penguin's body.
"I hate 'em," he said by way of explanation. "Hate 'em."
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