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Posted at 3:47 PM ET, 01/26/2011

Whatever happened to the Capstronaut?

By Dan Steinberg

The NHL All-Star break is a nice place to take stock of the season to date. Who has surprised us? Who's disappointed us? Who signed sponsorship deals with global men's hygiene companies? Whose eyes bled on national television? What happened to that team that used to score six goals a game? And more importantly, what happened to that guy with the astronaut costume?

Yeah, it's time for a Capstronaut retrospective. Last year at this time, you'll recall, the pseudo-anonymous fan who showed up at Verizon Center dressed like an astronaut was quite the rage. Kids asked him for autographs. Grown men and women wanted to pose for pictures. Ted Leonsis invited him into the owner's box. The team ran a video package about him on its Web site. Just about every local TV station profiled him. He showed up on camera behind player interviews. The Washington Post, of all places, published a story about him. And players even commented on the phenomenon.

"He looks like he's straight off the moon," Brooks Laich told Fox 5. "We have some wild and crazy fans."

The Capstronaut, by his own recollection, attended the team's first two home playoff games, which the Caps split. He was unable to make the final two home games of the season, both losses. And then the offseason came. And then?

"You know, it was a good ride last year," said Geoff Dawson, whose cover was increasingly blown as the media coverage increased last season. "It was a brief step into a little insanity and a lot of fun. It was a blast...[but] it kind of ran its course."

Dawson, a longtime Caps fan and one of the partners behind Chinatown's Rocket Bar, had the costume largely because of his tavern's outer space theme. A lost bet sent him to the arena in costume, and the rabid response (plus all the wins) kept him coming back. The shilling for Rocket Bar part got completely overwhelmed by his sudden inclusion into the ranks of the team's super fans. By the end of the season, he was posing for 100 or 200 photos a night, and while some fans objected to the sideshow elements of the costume, many others enjoyed the act.

On the other hand, he couldn't see, couldn't hear, couldn't drink beer, and had to watch hockey games from inside a heavy and stiflingly hot costume. So while Dawson still goes to games, he's been doing it as a civilian, absent his trappings of stardom.

"I'm going as Clark Kent," Dawson joked. "What I'm feeling is he's lost in space right now. I'm not ruling out a rescue. The costume is safely tucked away at mission control, ready to go. My 12-year old son is ready to go every game -- where's the costume, let's go! He's in. I'll be back....I'm waiting in the wings for the occasional flyover. That might be the way to look at it."

Indeed, the Capstronaut did make one appearance this season, when the Caps were in a prolonged losing slump. The flashing lights and bulky suit were witness to an overtime loss, which was probably not justification enough for a return to helmeted glory. Like so many other fans, Dawson is enduring a confusing regular season, slightly concerned by the team's play, but hoping that this regular season might lead to a more vulnerable and hungrier postseason approach.

As for the fan base, Dawson still loves it, its fun-loving nature, its embrace of craziness, its contributions to a few months that he won't ever forget.

"I feel like maybe I wrote a line in my obituary," Dawson said with a laugh. "I don't think I'll be able to outrun this one."

By Dan Steinberg  | January 26, 2011; 3:47 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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I admit I didn't care for the idea of the Capstronaut at first, but when I got to know the man in the space suit I no longer had any problems with his appearance. He's a good guy. Folks unfairly malign him. They ought to stop worrying about it.

Now, as for that loser in the red Batman costume? He needs to get a life.

Posted by: HornGuy | January 26, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Who cared?

Posted by: CapsNut | January 26, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

whatever happened to the Caps who could score 6 in one game?

Posted by: CF11555 | January 27, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Good...he was nothing but undeserving attention grabber...

Posted by: R617 | January 27, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Capstronaut running around grabbing chicks ass around the arena. F him lol I want to punch that stupid bubble in... Caps games are more of a circus act now

Posted by: vaporboy12 | January 27, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

as i recall, ted dissacoiated the Caps from the capstronaut after a youtube video appeared showing him staggering around the rocket bar drunk out of his mind in the outfit! Ted posted the video on his Tedstake blog and used it as example as to why its important to protect the Caps' "brand".

Posted by: madmax521 | January 27, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Capstronaut you're ok in my book. Now to find Ovie offensive game...

Posted by: Berndaddy | January 27, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Capstronaut bought us drinks after Game 2 last year, he's okay in my book. I did hear that he puked in his astronaut helmet later that night!

Posted by: Hatfield223 | January 27, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

He's annoying and makes the rest of us look bad - it's really that simple.

I'd be happy if they never let costumes like that in.

Posted by: Semvechkin | January 27, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

@cf11555 -I've been wondering that myself. That was the first thing that I saw when I clicked on the link.

Heck, I'd be happy to see them score more than 3 goals in a game.

Didn't care for him though. Glad he's not there.

Posted by: jwash4472 | January 27, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I think madmax521 hit the nail on the head. Ever since that YouTube video was released showing the Capstronaut stumbling drunk at Rocket Bar (it's since been taken down), Ted's distanced himself from the Capstronaut. I'm sure the Capstronaut is a good guy, I've talked to him a couple times at Rocket Bar, but Ted's a teatotaler and goes to great lengths to protect the Caps brand.

Posted by: rasweeney | January 27, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

As we like to say in Section 108 after the other team scores "WHO CARES...???"

Posted by: Caps16Fan | January 27, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

As we say after the opposing team scores: WHO CARES! He was promoting the rocket bar with his idiocy. It is all about him. He's not amusing and brings nothing to compliment the game as opposed to Goat (the fan who yells "Lets Go Caps" and we respond) and Smiley (the horn guy) and the cowbell fan. We have a mascot and his name is Slapshot. As a 5 year kid said at a game last year: "What does an astronaut have to do with the Capitals?" Good riddance!

Posted by: irascible1 | January 27, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Capstronaut thing was annoying at first, but it kind of grew on me and found it to be entertaining. It was cool to find out he was a long time fan and not one the bandwagon jumpers who decide that they need to have a "thing" in order to draw attention to themselves at games. Plus, the spacesuit idea was great given he was using it to promote Rocket Bar business, which is frequented by Caps fans.

The Horn Guy and Goat will always be the best, though - they were doing their thing in half empty arenas featuring less than stellar Caps teams, trying to get the fans and team pumped, versus many of the newer "superfans" whose whole schtick is really meant to be all about themselves and not the team.

The newest offender in that group is this CapMan character, who wears a red batman mask and cape and has this hilariously bad self promoting facebook page. Now, this guy could be some kind of comedic genius and doing this as a goof, but I don't think so. He seems pretty serious about it and it's rather clear that CapMan is all about CapMan first, the Caps second.

Overall though, agree with the commenter who said that Caps games are turning into a circus act now and I feel that no matter what the Caps may accomplish, their fans will never be taken seriously.

Posted by: RustyShackelford728 | January 27, 2011 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping he'd take the guy in the cloak with him but whatever. ("hey mannnn, it's not a cape!")

Posted by: GFisher1 | January 28, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Dan, you totally missed the whole TRUE reason why this guy no longer dresses up at Caps games. Madmax521 gave the reason.

Posted by: balraven | January 28, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I do agree with Rusty on Goat and Smiley. I used to go to weeknight Caps games with 5,000 other fans. I would hear Goat and Smiley doing their thing all night. The difference between them and a gimmick like the Capstronaut or those stupid people in the neon body suits is that Goat and Smiley are all about the GAME, and the fan experience. Unfortunatly DC is a very reactionary town. They tend to sit on their hands until they're told to cheer. I've been to sold out games this year in the 400 sections and hear conversations near the glass. IT'S THAT QUIET!! Keep doing your thing Goat/Smiley. Everyone else: Show up to the game and cheer your a$$ off. But save the stupid costumes/gimmicks for Halloween.

Posted by: gerse | January 28, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

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