D.B. Sweeney at the Caps Game
Every time you go to a Caps game nowadays, you're likely to see someone you know, possibly including one of the people who signs your checks. Wandering the concourse yesterday, I ran into no fewer than four off-the-clock Washington Post employees, one of whom happens to be the company's CEO and chairman of the board. Turns out one of my editors was also there in a non-work capacity, though I didn't see him.
Who else? Pat Sajak was there, as he so often is. American men's basketball coach Jeff Jones was there, fresh off Saturday's impressive win over Holy Cross. The Geico Caveman was there. And actor D.B Sweeney was there, chatting up George McPhee in the press box.
From a sports perspective, you know Sweeney as Shoeless Joe in "Eight Men Out" and ex-hockey star Doug Dorsey in The Cutting Edge, with Moira Kelly. He's a longtime New York Rangers fan, telling me that he still harbors a grudge against John Druce and that he "actually used to take the train down to watch the Rangers get eliminated by the Capitals every year back in the '90s, at the old place. By the time the Rangers were getting beaten up, I started chanting for the pizza too."
So, why was he at yesterday's Penguins game? He's old friends with McPhee, from the GM's Rangers days, was in town visiting injured vets at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval, realized the Caps had a Sunday matinee, and changed his flight so he could stay and watch the game.
"I'd never seen No. 8, so I wanted to come and see him in person," Sweeney said during the second period. "And he has not disappointed. Boy, he's exciting....I think Ovechkin is everything the NHL needs. I think he's obviously the best player in the league right now, and his passion is infectious. For people who are casual fans, he is the guy that can bring them in. If Gretzky was velvet, Ovechkin is electricity."
Mike Wise was working on a column about Ovechkin's showmanship and whether it ever crosses the line, and so in addition to asking Sweeney whether he'd ever had any work done, Wise asked about the flair.
"I don't know that hockey needs it, but I think it's a welcome jolt of energy, and it's authentic," Sweeney said. "There's certain guys, and I won't mention them, but in past years maybe they sort of pretended to be more excited than they were, and they were a little bit showboaty, and that's not part of the hockey ethos. But Ovechkin is so genuinely enthusiastic, and he's so authentic that I don't see how anybody could object to it....
"As long as you're not scripting it. I don't like the NFL, where I think it's a problem; some guy scores a touchdown, now he's got some kind of dance that he planned. To me, I just want to change the channel. You know, there must be a traffic report on. But when you've got a guy who's working his tail off to get a goal, and then celebrates and enjoys it with his teammates, to me that's great. Turning the football into a beer can or whatever these idiots do, to me you don't want that, you don't want guys to start trying to think of things they can do. But just an explosion of energy and emotion? That's great....
"It would be great to get this guy into the Finals, in games people are watching. It'd be great for the sport."
Sweeney produced and directed Two Tickets to Paradise, whose cast included the former Janet Gretzky and Chris Chelios, and he's pals with Hollywood's hockey fraternity, which includes Jerry Bruckheimer, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mike Myers, Denis Leary, David Boreanaz and others. He plays in an annual charity hockey game--where he's been teammates with Sergei Fedorov--and he said his screen time on skates might not be done.
"I would love to do another hockey movie," he said. "There are a lot of people in Hollywood lookint for the right hockey script."
Meanwhile, during his weekend in D.C., he saw people out in restaurants wearing hockey jerseys and was taking in the crowd downtown, calling it "phenomenal." As we chatted, he kept interjecting little comments about the Caps and Ovechkin, as the siren kept marking another goal.
"He's out of his mind," Sweeney said at one point. "If the Rangers are eliminated [in the playoffs], I'll be rooting for the Caps."
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