Sound + Vision

A Simple Life Hack For An Improved Caps-Pens Experience

OK. We’re all filled with schpilkes about the upcoming death march series with the Penguins. Rightly so. And now, to add to the agita, we find ourselves without Joe B. and Locker doing the call, supported by Alan May and Smokin’ Al rinkside.

Joe B Locker

NBC (Nothing But Crosby) takes over the TV broadcasts for the second round and beyond, and you know what that means, the capable but beige Doc Emrick, and Pierre McGuire (the surprise hit at RMNBX and as we learned at Iron Horse, a huge You Can Play Booster. We got a hug!). Despite their position atop the NHL broadcast food chain, the NBC “talent” pales in comparison to CSN’s dream team. And that doesn’t even take into account Roenick, Jones and the other clown. Though Liam is kinda dreamy….

We need every comfort we can get. And it’s no strain to say the our now-benched Caps call-line, the very best NHL PxP and color team in the solar system, will be sorely missed. But we have a solution. We have a fix for your fidgets. His name is John Walton, and you know him by his voice. And here is how you do it.

From the Bears to the Caps

“I’ve been calling Caps games for six seasons – a day before the earthquake. I’ll call my 500th game next season.” The 44-year-old John Walton is the definition of an optimist. Well…an optimist, who’s been around the Caps.

“I don’t think anyone who  has heard my broadcasts would say I’m fair and balanced, but it’s so important to be fair and balanced,” says the Caps radio voice. Fair and balanced…or perhaps we’ll just say, honest.  Walton 1Walton grew up in Minnesota, listening to Bob Kirks and Al Shaver. “We moved to Ohio, at that time it was hard to follow a team from afar except for Ken Wilson on KMOX – I think I was probably modeled myself after Kenny,” says the booth veteran.

Some may see Walton playing second fiddle to the Joe B/Locker line, but consider just how more difficult the job of calling a hockey game for a radio audience is. “You try to capture a whole lot and digest it for someone who can’t see it,” he says. “You want to be able to give enough flavor to where the puck isn’t than is.

“On TV you can joke around a little more, because you have the picture. Radio is so different, so we try to bring the rink into the listener’s mind.”

Before being tapped to helm the Caps, Walton was the voice of the Hershey Bears – giving him unique insight into the players coming up through the ranks. “Doc was someone who was always encouraging to me,” Walton says, again giving credence that Emrick is a pretty good guy. From him and others, Walton says he honed his craft.

“Biggest difference between hockey and other sports to call is the pace. Baseball is a rocking chair; hockey is being like at the top of a rocket,” says Walton. “You don’t have as much time to add color because there’s too much going on. There’s so much more story telling in baseball.”

Anyone who’s listened to John’s call knows the joy and thrill of hearing – not seeing – a Caps goal. It’s an art that comes with practice. Radio might be even better than TV.

“I think a lot of the same influences as we talked about, but Ken Wilson with the St. Louis Blues probably had a big influence on me, as did Mike Emrick and Marty Brenneman with the Cincinnati Reds. Ken would always build up a big save in a way that I thought captured the listener, Marty was always so smooth in his delivery, and Doc captures the spirit of hockey in my mind as well as anyone ever has.”

How We’ll Survive

So here’s the thing. Our CSN crew is sidelined for the rest of the playoffs. But you don’t have to just resort to the audio NBC offers. We’d never survive if we had to.

Caps radioHere’s how to sync the Walton live cast with the TV signal, courtesy John Walton: “The best way to hear us – we’re about 30 to 45 seconds behind the TV signal. For syncing purposes, the Caps Radio 24/7 stream has a little bar at the bottom, with a pause button. The easiest way is the Caps Radio app [available from the App Store of Google Play here]. It’s better than FM and that’s about 30 seconds behind.”

If you listen over the air on 1500AM, you can always fidget with the pause button on your DVR. No matter how you tune in to John’s call, it will make for a much better game experience. Good morning, good afternoon and good night Pittsburgh, four times please!


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Why Hockey Is For Everyone


“Few have the greatness to bend history itself. But each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends out a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples can build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

— Robert F. Kennedy

Hockey – at least the NHL – turns 100 years old this year. That’s longer than women in the U.S. had the vote. That’s significantly longer than African-Americans were provided at least the shield of equal education and access to the ballot. 100 years is a long time.

ckwod5uwgaawtjt-11917 isn’t remotely like 2017, yet the devils of the past continue. We still, too often, make judgments about each other based on utterly silly things: our hair, our skin tone, our bodies.

We’re especially attuned to those silly judgments. We’ve listened to Willy O’Ree talk about the struggles of being the first black NHL player. We’ve watched the Wounded Warriors take the ice and prove, once more, how sport can raise the spirit. We’ve learned from Fatima Al Ali that Muslim women can have sick stick skills. And we’ll witness something special Friday night, during warm-ups, Caps players’ sticks will be wrapped with Pride Tape, and Braden Holtby will sport his You Can Play mask.

Friday night at Verizon isn’t about any one group. Young, old and in-between, straight or otherwise, male or female, special needs or just needy – what we again will learn Friday is that, yes, hockey is for everyone.

caps-pride-tshirtAs Braden Holtby, the Caps’ You Can Play ambassador, told us Thursday, “We include everyone, It’s great that the NHL is doing, You Can Play is based on equality. You want to make sure equality is the basis, and I think it’s been a huge part of that.”

We’re reminded of our friend, and Hockey’s Hemingway, Jason Rogers’ take on the sport. Hockey, he said, is not in any way about me or I. It is about team. As one player related, in many ways it’s a game of misfits – on both sides of the glass, and all are welcome.

Perhaps. But it’s also a game that develops the person inside. You learn to work with others, you learn you’re not the only one, you learn to play to each other’s strengths – in short, you learn so many good things that sport can teach. As the old saying goes: “Sports doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”

So on Friday night, as you crowd into the arena, ready for another Caps victory, take a moment to look around. At all the people sharing this experience with you.

And remember: they are all beautiful in their own right.


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Hockey Proud

The Holtbys leads Caps fans of all stripes at DC 2016 Pride Parade

A question we get a lot here is “What’s it like to be a gay hockey fan?”

We’re never quite sure what people expect the answer to be. Are they curious if it’s hard, if we feel ostracized or just not quite the same as everyone else, if we just don’t fit in? We rarely have a snappy answer at the ready.

From now on, however, I think I’ll just refer them to the 2016 DC Pride Parade. I’ll tell them how everyone – absolutely everyone – associated with the Washington Capitals were on hand, smiling and joking and looking so damn happy to be there. I’ll tell them how the thousands – tens of thousands easily – in the crowds were screaming the heads off, yelling and clapping and high-fiving those of us in the parade. How Braden and Brandi Holtby were tirelessly working the sideline, shaking hands, stopping for selfies, and hugging countless Caps fans. In 95 degree heat, no less.

I’ll tell them how everyone there – Wes, the Rockers, management types, You Can Play reps, and especially poor Slapshot in what must have been a suffocating costume, marched in a surprisingly tiring parade and never complained once. Far from it: they were there for Caps fans and non-fans alike, throwing beads and slapping hands with Washingtonians anywhere on the spectrum of sexuality.

And I’ll tell them how overwhelming it all was, to be stuck somewhere in the middle, walking with a rainbow-taped hockey stick with a Caps flag attached that the wind would pick up and fly proudly, sending the attendees into peals of “C-A-P-S, CAPS! CAPS! CAPS!”, just the same as any game at Verizon. Don’t take our word for it; just check out the pictures below.

Or, when asked “What’s it like to be a gay hockey fan?”, I can say “Exactly what it’s like to be a hockey fan.”


Another happy attendee


The Rockers, and the Voice of the Capitals, Wes Johnson, armed with his super soaker

Slapshot deserves a medal for sticking it out with such good cheer

Slapshot deserves a medal for sticking it out with such good cheer

Brandi and Braden - so laid back and fun. We love you two!

Brandi and Braden – so laid back and fun. We love you two!

Working the crowd...

Working the crowd…

We never seen so many happy people on the streets of DC

We never seen so many happy people on the streets of DC

Rainbow: Rocked. Thank you, Caps

Rainbow: Rocked. Thank you, Caps

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The F-Word on F Street

This is a guest post from Brandon Alter, a junior at Sherwood High School and writer at CapitalsFanReport and CapsOutsider. Brandon approach us, after both the Andrew Shaw incident and the noxious behavior we captured during the last Caps homegame. We welcome his thoughts on this. 

Brandon hopes to attend the University of Maryland to major in journalism and statistics (good luck!) A Caps fan since birth, he’ll be out of country for the next few games as he tours Polish concentration camps, and visiting the final resting place of members of his family. So…a young man who understands the corrosive effects of hate and discrimination. 

bad Caps fans

This video is awful. The way these Caps fans made me feel can only be described as ashamed and embarrassed. This is not what I want people to think of when they think of Caps fans.

I am a straight male millennial. Yes. I am part of “the most privileged generation”. I recognize that. I recognize my “white male privilege”. However, I am also the future. This video is not the future. This is the past. To me, it is the same hate we saw in the 1940’s to the Jews, and in the 1960’s to the African-American community.

I see this hate all the time at school. I hear this kind of language all the time. Every single time I hear it, I tell that person to knock it off. It does not matter if I know them, or if they know me. It also does not matter if the person they said it too is gay or not. It is still offensive.

One of my really good friends is gay. (To me there is also a difference between a “gay friend” and a “friend who is gay”.) He hates the “f” word. Whether it is said to him or not. It is still hateful every time. Even if someone says it as a “joke”. It is not funny. I don`t care if people see me as a party-pooper or as someone who is “trying to make everything PC. I see myself as someone who stands up for those who are too afraid to do it for themselves.

I really hope that as a country, we can start to move forward. This is moving backwards. I am not going to make excuses for these fans. I am also not saying you should punch people in the face for saying this. I am asking you to keep in mind that just because the word might mean something different to you, that does not mean it`s not offensive to the person you are saying it to.

For the argument of “trash talking” I always say, “Trash the team, not the person”. You have no idea what that person has been through in their life, and you have no idea what affects saying these things on that person.

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What is an ‘All-Star’?

NHL All Star 2016

A while back, our Buffalo Sabres writer – Paul Kaseman – told us he had some thoughts to share about the NHL’s annual All-Star game. He does have some thoughts – some strong ones. This was written several weeks ago, before the NHL’s declaration that John Scott will be attending the NHL All-Star game as a participant. Due to an error on our part we’re only getting it up now. -Eds

In lieu of what the NHL vis-à-vis Gary Bettman have nefariously acted as in according to John Scott’s fan vote selection of captain in their all-star game my interpretation of that which constitutes the definition of an all-star has come to be questioned. The reason for scrutinizing the definition is based on a rise of repugnant feelings toward the National Hockey Leagues on their treatment of the parties, John Scott is not the only party persecuted, involved.

Let us embark initially on these blogging thoughts of a madman where the controversy begins in its infancy, the NHL All-Star game in conjunction with fan-voting. The All-Star game is a contest of those adjudicated to be the best player in the league. In an effort to bolster viewership and participation for the game itself the NHL gave the fans some say into the contestants.  I imagine the rationale for this being (simply):  increased fan participation equates to increased fan involvement, i.e. money for the league from  a myriad of sources including but not limited to prospective TV deals & revenue from all-star related activities of but not solely the sale of merchandise & promotional events.  My previous involvement in such activity has been to cast a single vote to players I would appreciate watching in the aforementioned competition. Continue reading

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Behind the Scenes with CSN’s Caps Pregame Live

There’s a problem in the control room, and Alan May is involved.

“He’s definitely gone over,” producer Ryan Billie tells the crew over headset. “We’re over by :30.”

TV control rooms do not like surprises. They are dark places, populated by glowing lights and tense voices yelling out questions, requests, orders or expletives…or some combination thereof. It all lends an air of modest confusion and panic – two things that are not good in live TV.

Control room

But this one, Control Room A at CSN Mid-Atlantic headquarters in a downtown Bethesda office building, is relatively calm. Relatively. Throughout the last half hour, line-ups were juggled, graphics adjusted, plans changed and changed again. And now, Alan May has gone long at the telestrator and something needs to be done.

“What are we dropping?” asks the director. “I don’t know yet,” says Billie. He has about :20 seconds to make up his mind before the commercial ends and it’s back to live studio. Everyone’s waiting, but something will work out. It has to.

All in all, just another evening at CSN Capitals Pregame Live. Continue reading

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Night Out, Stars Out

There’s an LGBT social networking site operating in DC that’s not a hookup outfit like Grindr, Scruff or whatever the online flavor of the month is, but one that gets people together to do cool things when they’re vertical – LIKE GO TO CAPS GAMES!

Squeak and Ovi  Dallas+Stars+v+Washington+Capitals


The Welcoming Committee is already in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. This Thursday, for Caps v. Stars, they’re organizing a night out to the game. The cost is $50 (info on added discount and iherb coupon code below) and that comes with a free t-shirt. From Molly at their HQ:

While we are well known for our Guerilla Queer Bar (GQB) night in which we takeover typically straight bars and clubs with hundreds of our members, we have expanded our offerings as we discussed to include sporting, cultural, nightlife, and travel experiences. In DC this summer we attempted our first concert takeover in which we brought 44 of our members to the Verizon Center for the Ariana Grande concert on July 25th. We also hosted a U-street bar crawl  in August selling about 140 tickets and a very successful Pride GQB pre-party.

The basics (details are here):

  • Thursday, November 19th at 7pm. Seats are in section 407 rows L-Q.
  • Tickets are $50 + a free t-shirt (a 20% discount)
  • Use discount code: puckbuddys for $5 off!!
  • Purchase tickets here.
  • Pregaming at City Tap House (901 9th Street) starts at 6pm.
  • This is their first stab at the NHL but they’ve successfully hosted base ball and hoops games in several other cities.

For more information on The Welcoming Committee, how they got started, and where they’re headed, check out this Forbes article. They have 4,000 DC members and nearly 40,000 nationwide. CYA Thursday!!!

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