So You Want to Meet a Hockey Player

Braden Holtby signs for fans after the Caps' practice on Jan. 24, 2011.

Braden Holtby signs for fans after the Caps' practice on Jan. 24, 2011.

Last week I talked about a poor man’s alternative to watching hockey and promised to talk about meeting the players in greater detail. Well this week, I intend to make good on that promise.

When searching for player autographs, you could always stay after a Caps home game and wait outside the Verizon Center garage. However, this may not be the best way for two main reasons:

1.      Players may not stop and sign, especially after a loss.

2.      That part of D.C. starts to get sketchy and unsafe if you stick around late after the games.

That’s why I recommend going to a Caps practice. At practice, if you walk to the other side of the rink, there’s a gate separating the fans from the team’s locker room. A majority of the players will stop there and sign before heading into the locker room after practice. Usually, they’ll stick around for awhile, especially if you’re lucky enough to grab one of the call-ups from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate Hershey Bears.

However, if you miss those guys because you didn’t get over soon enough or the crowd was too large, all hope is not lost. Because KCI is located on top of a public parking garage, there is no section set aside specifically for players. Therefore, if you hang around just outside the facility by the wall-window where the large ‘Capitals’ logo is displayed, a number of the players will come out.

Some players scatter themselves through the garage, but the notable ones that almost always park up there are:

  • Brooks Laich
  • Mike Green
  • Semyon Varlamov
  • Alexander Semin (although he has been known to park in the lower levels on occasion)
  • Alex Ovechkin (he’ll sometimes have Caps employees drive his car to street level)

Remember, though, that players’ parking spaces are likely to change since nothing is reserved. Also, the players try to sign for as many as they can, but they have busy lives too and places they need to be, so don’t get upset if you don’t get an autograph.

Also, away teams will sometimes practice at Kettler. Be sure to call the facility first to make sure, but practicing at Kettler is the best way to meet other players as well.

New York Rangers players embrace during a practice held at Kettler on Jan. 24, 2011.

New York Rangers players embrace during a practice held at Kettler on Jan. 24, 2011.

New York Rangers captain Chris Drury signs for fans after the Rangers practiced at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Jan. 24, 2011

New York Rangers captain Chris Drury signs for fans after the Rangers practiced at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Jan. 24, 2011

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One Response

  1. Alena,
    Your blog is off to a great start. Good information, nice photos, multiple posts — keep it up!

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