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The Caps and Their Playoff Beard Promotion

Check out Brashear, on the end of the bench. (By John McDonnell - TWP)

Assorted nuggets about the Caps' organizational-wide playoff beard-a-thon push, in which fans, media members and players (but not, repeat, NOT bloggers) will all raise money for charity by not shaving, and will post frequent photos on an official site, and will drive bloggers out of the beard-covering business.

* The idea was actually brought to the Capitals by Cenergy Communications, which gets a small fee for hosting and promoting the drive. A bunch of playoff teams in different cities will participate, which--and no disrespect intended--makes me marginally less excited about the sheer (yeah yeah) brilliance of it all. It's all about the unique factor. Playoff mullets maybe?

* But the reason the Caps brain-trust so quickly embraced the idea has to do not with the way Donald Brashear looked last spring, but instead with one of the perpetual dilemmas for a sports fan: do you refer to your favorite team as "we" or "they?" The Caps' marketing people determined that Caps fans were, in the recent past, significantly less likely to refer to the Caps as "we" than fans in more traditional markets. Philly being the perfect example of a "we" town.

"When your grandfather and father and their kids are all fans, you really feel ownership," Joe Dupriest, the Caps' director of marketing, told me. "We're trying to create that same feel here."

The beards thing fits in well; fan beards and playoff beards will all be featured together, the fans will feel like crazed mosquitoes have attacked their faces, the fans will look like deranged mountaineers, etc.

"In this market a lot of fans have said, 'They're doing well, they're winning.' and we want them to say 'We're doing well, we're winning.' " Dupriest said. "This kind of stuff is exactly what we're looking for to make people feel like they're a part of it, like the team isn't external to them."

* PA guy Wes Johnson is on board, as our several radio personalities, including Cakes from the Junkies. "Cakes will look like Billy Bob Thornton in a ZZ Top video," fellow Junkie Lurch e-mailed me. "Hopefully I will look better than Gregg Popovich," Cakes wrote.

* But the best participants have got to be the Comcast SportsyNet guys, since they have to show their faces on air just about every day. Chris Miller, Russ Thaler, Michael Jenkins, Brent Harris and Chick Hernandez are all lined up, though the latter was referred to as "Chris Hernandez" in the original release, which is nearly grounds for canceling the whole promotion, if you ask me.

"After a month, I predict that I will look like the nation's first hobo sportscaster," Jenkins wrote me. "My beard looks good for two or three days before turning into a bizarre mixture of reddish-blond peach fuzz. It's going to get ugly. I believe Brent will surprise everyone with a stunningly awful beard. I don't think it will fill in all the way, leaving him with these random balls of hair all over his face. He's going to look like a poorly shaved cat."

See? Ratings will be bananas.

"I will look as though I was put away for a short stay at a State Correctional facility," Chris Hernandez wrote.

"Best with a beard? Chuck Norris," Thaler wrote me. "They named a trophy after him. True story. Worst? Everyone else."

If the Caps go to the Cup finals, this could redefine the local sports television landscape.

* Last year's DC101-sponsored mohawk promotion? Well, that's probably on for another year, too, with Mike Green and Elliot again the ringleaders. So the crowd will be a mixture of 30- and 40-something guys who all look like they're from Cleveland, and 20-something kids who all look like they got lost on the way to the Black Cat.

* Dupriest, the marketing guy, is anticipating better-than 50 percent participation inside the Caps offices, and is hoping about half of Caps fans who attend the games jump on board. He's heard a lot of this from people inside and outside the office: "My wife didn't want me to grow one before, but now I'm doing it for charity and she can't say anything," he summarized. Which reminds me, Thaler's wife has never seen him with a beard, since he hasn't gone grizzly since college. Relationships could be made or broken this spring.

* If things go well, the Caps might make this into an annual tradition.

"I mean, it'll be a growing process," Dupriest said. He wasn't joking.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 7, 2009; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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The Caps would be far better served to grow playoff mustaches as beards contain weevils and certain carcinogenic pesticides that can be dangerous to human health.

Posted by: aperlut | April 7, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Some Caps fan do use "we" - and get laughed at by other Caps fans and people outside. It's not considered appropriate by the Caps blogging community to use "we" unless you are a member of the team. We actually had an argument about it on I think CI a bit back.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 7, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"After a month, I predict that I will look like the nation's first hobo sportscaster."


Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | April 7, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Unprecedented and exciting in DC...

...old hat in Detroit:,152052

Kind of like the idea of winning a Stanley Cup.

Posted by: ThisGuy | April 7, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

No fair, Ovie has had a head start already. He started growing his awhile back. Jeez, he always has to be the best at everything doesn't he?!

Posted by: mikesgirl1 | April 7, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm still doing it. Even if you don't blog about it.

Posted by: goskinsgo | April 7, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes...the playoff beard, a fine hockey tradition!My advice is for the Caps to worry about winning games. The playoff history with Leonsis as an owner brings to mind only FIVE O'CLOCK SHADOW.Go Caps!

Posted by: caphcky | April 7, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I thought not referring to your team as "we" was a plus, not a minus.

Posted by: metatext | April 7, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

@caphcky - one man's 5 o'clock shadow, is another mans full grown beard.

(but I see your point, let the fans handle the beards, let the team handle the wins)

Posted by: goskinsgo | April 7, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Chad Dukes from the "Big O and Dukes Show," and Mike O'Meara are both also participating in the Playoff Beard Promotion.

That's someone from literally the entire line-up at WJFK.

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 7, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I guess growing a beard is an easier way to support the Caps than predicting a Caps win over the Flyers at home..Cakes sucks, the curse lives

Posted by: Bainsey | April 7, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"I guess growing a beard is an easier way to support the Caps than predicting a Caps win over the Flyers at home..Cakes sucks, the curse lives"

You can't blame Cakes for that. I guess non-Junkies listeners wouldn't know this, but cakes is notorious for always being completely wrong in bets/predictions. The general Rule is "Always bet against Cakes."

Example: Cakes predicted yesterday that Michigan State would not only cover the +7.5, but would win straight up.

When Cakes "picked the Flyers to win," he wasn't actually picking them to win, he was attempting to channel his "Always bet against Cakes" mojo into a Caps win.

Another Example: The morning of the "Miracle on the Hudson," Cakes had done a whole segment about how safe and reliable air travel was now and how long it had been since a crash.

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 7, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I definitely say "we" and find nothing wrong with it. I'm proud to be a part of the 7th man, no matter what anyone (esp the blogging community) thinks and will continue to say "we." And so, Mr. DuPriest, I reject your notion that we think that the team is external to us and submit that we do feel a part of the team, some of us are just more vocal about it than others.

Posted by: ShariLeigh131 | April 7, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm telling you, whenever a member of the Caps front office (business side) opens their mouth something stupid comes out. I've never seen a more clueless bunch of business folks in my life.

Posted by: StikSav | April 7, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

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