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:

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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.

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6 Comments on “Hockey ’n Heels, Reviewed”

  1. hannah Says:

    Dear Mike Vogel,

    The the clothes and shaving products would have been a better investment.

    As a twenty-something, high-heel wearing hockey lover, I have had to spend more than a little time having to prove myself and escape the label of assumed puck bunny. (Example: while about to unpack my skates at a rink once, I overheard a little boy whisper to his friend “I bet she wears figure skates”- while staring directly at me). Thus, I try not to be too critical of fellow female hockey fans. Birds of a feather, right? Having said that, I could not help but let you know I found this review somewhat condescending in tone and would go as far as to say I was slightly offended by it. Your writer seemed to have no qualms about judging the other women attending the event in a public forum, not to mention the wives and girlfriends who willingly gave their free time to discuss their private lives with a bunch of strangers. Furthermore, her commentary became specifically caddy at times (i.e. targeting some poor woman’s unfortunate footwear decision and then her stick handling skills). To my mind, that ranks your writer’s maturity level right along side the mother and daughter duo invading Ovie’s locker.

    Having gotten that off my chest, my dissatisfaction with her review prompted me to write one of my own. As deeply as I’m sure your reading base cares about both Hockey in Heels AND the opinion of some random girl, I am managing to restrain myself from adding it to avoid making this a ‘War and Peace’ length post. I still appreciate it if you took the time to read this.

    Sincerely, hannah

    p.s. You might want to mention to your writer that the drink was not called a “Hockey Bling Cosmo”, but a “Lady Byng Cosmo” – as in “Lady Byng Memorial Trophy”. Maybe they can provide her with some Monday night shots next year if she mentions that in her post-event survey.

  2. Tadd Says:

    Mike,

    I agree with Hannah you wasted your money on this reporter. The best part of the review was knowing that she would not attend again.

    For starters, the event was not billed as a meal. If she was hungry, she should have eaten something. Obviously, her low blood sugar had an effect on the way she viewed the evening. She probably didn’t need that “big glass o’ red” on an empty stomach.

    I came with a group of five. The name “Hockey n Heels” did have us a little concerned when we were signing up because it alluded to the puckbunny side of things rather than “Chix with Stix”. However, we hoped for the best and ended up with just that. The diversity of the group balanced itself out quite well.

    There was something to be learned at each session and it would have been great to have them all taped because the questions and answers for each group and each session were different. Especially the Chalk Talks.

    The on-ice session was our first and being mostly lefties we went with Shaone Morrisonn. He was extremely patient and encouraging as some of us worked on getting over the trepidation of merely participating. Our entire line supported the efforts of each of us.

    It was interesting to listen to the ladies share a bit of their side of things and have the tour of the facilities that we did. During the cocktail portion of the evening. The food was gobbled up and drinks were flowing. The players were generous with their time giving up an evening (the night before the trade deadline no less) to be fawned over and pawed by 200 plus females. Glad they made it out there in one piece after seeing Eric Fehr literally grabbed by a woman as he entered the Acela Club, dragged over to her table and practically pushed down into a seat. The boy has that ” lower body” on the mend girls! For heaven sake! A little restraint!

    Overall, the evening made some great memories. We would certainly attend again, who knows what one might learn next time.

    Our thanks to the organization for the hard work behind the scenes to offer an event such as this to the fans.

  3. Amy Says:

    Mr. Vogel,
    I just read the writeup that the reporter you hired wrote on Hockey N Heels and all I can say is “wow”! I found her review to be condescending and full of the whiney kinds of comments it seems she would think other women make. The fact that she insulted what the attendees were wearing is both unprofessional and rude.

    Her frequent referrals to being hungry caused me to think her only reason for being there was to eat. Although I was a bit hungry myself, I was much more interested in hearing all of the interesting and informative things the presenters had to say. The food they offered, and when they offered it, was not a priority for me, nor was it for anyone else that I heard around me. In addition, most reporters come prepared to events; had she read the information about the event beforehand, she would not have been surprised that the cocktail party with hors d’oevres was scheduled for the end of the evening.

    The part, however, I found the most offensive was her insinuation about the players’ wives and girlfriends and their supposed naiveté in thinking their husbands and significant others would be faithful on the road! I could not believe that a reporter would be so presumptuous as to, first of all, assume that all athletes cheat and, second of all, to include that in a published writeup about an event. The wives and girlfriends contributed their free time to attend this event which deserves that they be praised, not that their intelligence be insulted.

    Mr. Vogel, I am appalled that you allowed this person to represent the Washington Capitals. I certainly hope never to have the misfortune of reading anything by her again.

    Thank you.
    Amy


  4. Dear Mike–

    Thank you for allowing your “hired-gun reporter” to inject a little levity into the ‘ol dump-and-chase. Considering that fact that I actually enjoyed her review, perhaps–judging by the comments from the furrowed-brow class above–I didn’t take it quite seriously enough….

    ….Yes, after a second skim, I’ve reconsidered. Oh, have I reconsidered.

    How dare this debutante of the face-off dot come hungry, drink on an empty stomach, and insinuate that hockey players–MALE hockey players, even–actually act like, well, men when on the road? And the making fun of other women’s clothes? SO not lady-like!

    Yes!! How DARE you let this person represent the Washington Capitals, (who just happen to be our fair city’s most successful NHL franchise for 34 years running)?

    I will now go so far as to say that I am considering taking my hockey-blogging business elsehwere–perhaps to On Frozen Blog or maybe even south to Blueland!!

  5. DCRocks Says:

    Wow, a blogger sharing her opinion and speaking her mind, peppered with a bit of humor? Shut down the site! Like those who reacted negatively to this write-up, I too want to live in a world where everything is perfect, only positive thoughts are conveyed, and patience and understanding are my dominant emotions, no matter the situation. If I am asked to report on an event, I will only comment on the positive aspects. Why try to make people laugh or, as a reviewer, call attention to anything that could be viewed as a negative. The world is perfect, I keep telling myself. There is never room for improvement…things are fine as is.

  6. Lynda West Says:

    Thank for making this valuable information available to the public.


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