The Caps Are Big in Scotland
Here's another measure of the Caps circa Spring 2009: Angela Cumming's favorite NHL team is the Maple Leafs. Her husband, Roger, favors the Habs. Plus, they live in this country called Scotland, which isn't particularly close to Chinatown. Nevertheless, they decided to leave their five kids at home and spend about $4,000 for a week's vacation in D.C.. So they could visit Verizon Center.
"We came all the way from Scotland to see the Capitals!" Angela told me after her third Caps game of the week. "We came to watch Ovechkin and Green and Semin. How can you not like the Caps?"
"It's their personality," her husband Roger said, except I couldn't understand a word he was saying, thanks to my inability to speak Scottish. I mean, I have an easier time with understanding Semin, who's never said a word of English in my presence. Roger tried again. Still no luck.
"Shut up," Angela finally told her husband kindly. "Because I'm married to him, I understand him," she explained, then laid out their reasoning.
"There's an energy, a spark, a newness," she said. "There's a lot going for them. It's just one of those teams you have to see live at some point in your life. You've got to see them at home, you do. You've got to see the energy and the jump the fans have got."
You have to travel from Scotland to see the same Verizon Center that was a league-wide joke three season ago? Just crazy.
"I'm a season-ticket holder, and I have to admit, that's more exuberance than I've felt," laughed Goat, the legendary Caps fan who introduced me to the Scots. "That's awesome. That's rejuvenating."
Angela, I should note, is from Kilsyth, the birthplace of curling (!!!!!!), and says her McCollough family ancestors were among the sport's creators. She never liked the sport, she told me, as my ears started bleeding.
"It wasn't fast enough," she said. "If you wanted to sweep something, I'll give you a broom, you can sweep my floors. At least with hockey you've got a bite, a passion, a brio."
Plus, she once broke her ankle kicking a curling stone. "They're a lot heavier than they look," she said.
And while Angela still heads her hang in shame over a Caps Jagr jersey she has at home, she and Roger were entirely pleased with this trip, which resulted in plenty of Ovechkin loot. They even signed one of their kids up for the Caps' Kids Club, earning an Ovechkin growth chart.
"It doesn't matter what team you support, you see someone like Ovechkin, you do take an interest," said Roger, in his best bit of American.
Oh, and their previous U.S. hockey trip was to New York, for four games at MSG. I asked how that compared to the Verizon Center.
"It didn't," Angela said. "This place out-shines, out-skates and out-classes it."
Hey, just repeating what the lady said.
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