Hockey ’n Heels, Reviewed
Rather than spend a lot of money on clothes and shaving products, I hired a reporter to attend last Monday’s “Hockey ’n Heels” session at Verizon Center. She finished writing her report over the weekend, and here it is:
I attended the Hockey n’ Heels event last Monday (Feb. 26) and the subsequent Caps game against the Lightning on Thursday. I wanted to post a review of sorts. I’ll do a brief summary along with my highlights and lowlights of the evening.
First of all, it’s good thinking to market the game and a game to the sport’s female fans. It’s long overdue. I’m not crazy about the title or the pink n’ purple logo. Still, it didn’t keep the actual fans or female players away. The crowd was an eclectic mix of hockey moms, diehard Caps fans, females who play the sport, puck bunnies and some who just won free tix on the radio and were game for a free night out. Young and old alike were well represented (more on the kids later).
The toughest part was the beginning. Check-in was alphabetical and the poor sods from A-L looked like a line for Ovechkin autographs. The other lines were way short and we breezed right through. We were instructed that the event would start at 6 p.m., and early arrival was encouraged. At check-in you were assigned to a group, designated by a letter and colored wristband, given your tickets to the Thursday game and sent to wait in section 118. Neither my friend nor I were provided with our tickets at check-in. They told us they would take care of it later.
We had debated grabbing a bite on the way but knew it would mean a late arrival. Coming from work in Baltimore, it was tough to even get there by 6. Most women seemed to be coming from work and many were commenting that they hoped they weren’t holding the hors d’oevres til the end. Guess again. The only other bad thing was that we sat in section 118 watching old videos that I’ve seen 100 times as caps games filler with poor sound (because 250 women were chatting) from 5:50 until 6:40. Stomachs were already grumbling, although they did hand out bottles of water which was nice. I just kept thinking that I could have downed a 12″ Subway Italian cold cut sandwich with plenty of time to spare. Next time just start it at 7 p.m., giving us all time to eat first.
Okay, on to the main event. The groups rolled out, rotating between five sections. Ours started with Chalk Talk, a 15-minute hockey 101 lesson with Q&A from Craig Laughlin and Jill Sorensen. Locker is always good and dominated the session. He entertained questions from the very basic, “What’s icing and off-sides?” to “Explain the triangles strategy.” For the beginner, this would have been better if we had the little cheat sheets that were given out in our “cosmetic bags” at the end of the night. Otherwise, good session.
Then it was on to the Wives Q&A, a bit of a misnomer since only Jamie Heward’s wife was there. It’s bittersweet now after hearing her gush about how much they liked this area and were finally settling in somewhere after so many moves. Fate intervened the next day when Heward was traded to Los Angeles. I couldn’t help but smirk a bit as the fiancé and girlfriend (Brent Johnson’s and Shoane Morrisonn’s, respectively) talked about how easy it was to trust the guys on the road, not have any worries about women throwing themselves at their men, no cheating goes on as far as they know. Mrs. Heward set them straight a bit, although I do like to think that hockey players are a more faithful lot than NBA, MBL, but after all, we are talking about men; rich, athletic and better-than-average looking men who spend many a night on the road.
The next stop was Joe Reekie’s tour of the locker rooms and training rooms. This would have been good as Reekie is both amusing and easy on the eyes, but only the first 10-15 in our group were able to follow along within earshot. I ended up at the end of the line, couldn’t hear a word he said and was on my own to view the jocks, sticks and skates on display. My friend and I liked the metallic blue sticks and we spotted them on the ice Thursday, which was fun.
This was where the “leave the kids at home” part comes in. Some tweenie, egged on by her mom, decided to open Ovie’s locker only to have a mess of crumpled papers, and God knows what else come tumbling out. She was half frightened and half ecstatic. She and her mom tried to put the stuff back but it was like opening the closet where you throw all your junk and have to close it really fast before it all cascades down upon you. It was kind of funny but also disrespectful on their part. i was actually happily surprised not to see more of that.
We ended this part of the evening in the equipment room with Brock Miles and Bucky Metzger along with Carol Maloney from Comcast. This was pretty interesting, especially when someone noticed Lawrence Nycholat’s locker was empty and then we caught a glimpse of him outside the door looking a bit like a deer in the headlights. We learned some interesting facts and insider scoop, like who has the most time consuming superstitious pre-game rituals (Brent Johnson) and who is the one to stay away from after a bad game (Olie), talked about skates, sticks, and passed around Ovie’s helmet. I guess this was my favorite session.
Finally, it was time for the on-ice portion of the night. It was a little intimidating for me, since I just started an adult instructional class with other hockey moms. I got lucky and ended up on Heward’s line. Shoane Morrisonn was the other instructor and coach Dean Evason demonstrated and kept things amusing by threatening push-ups if we missed our shots. Heward was really patient, a good coach (another premonition?) and seemed like a genuinely nice guy, although honestly, they all do. He let me take an extra shot and took time to try and explain the nuances of the wrist shot (something I told him I am struggling with). I didn’t fall, heels and all, but I missed both my shots. At least I didn’t whiff it (twice!) like the chick in the pointy toed snakeskin spikes with low cut sweater (and I don’t mean hockey jersey).
I thought I would never eat again but alas, the food part finally happened. I was one of the first on the elevator to the Acela club. We passed right by the autograph hounds waiting to show their cleavage to Steve Eminger, Donald Brashear and others. The first stop: the bar. Got a big glass o’ red wine for me and for my companion. (Can you believe they had a drink called “Hockey Bling Cosmo” but no “shots?”)
I staked out a seat and dashed to the buffet. I wouldn’t have gotten there quicker with skates. For “hors d’oevres” it was a decent offering, but these femmes were famished. I filled my plate with the offerings from crudités, cheese and crackers, fruit to the hot foods. I guess they think women love chicken and many I know do. I usually pass on the poultry but not this night. The goat cheese and marinara thingy was divine. I nabbed a cookie and a chocolate cheesecake tart too.
We talked to a few of the players. Brashear really is the teddy bear off-ice that I’d imagined. My friend couldn’t stop staring at the lip to chin scar as he told us of his mom playing hockey when she was “our age.” Hopefully he meant early thirties. The giveaway raffles were nice and the little cosmetic bags with pen, compact mirror and mini hockey handbook were okay.
Anyway, other than starving to death and not getting a prime spot for the Reekie tour, I learned a lot and thought it was really worth the money. Would I go again? Probably not, only because I can’t see how they could up the level of instruction and it’s not the kind of thing you (I) need to hear and see twice. Plus after another year of playing, I hope I’ll be ready for hockey and hightops or chicks n’ sticks or whatever the intermediate version is.
And maybe they’ll serve steak.