Building the Future

Marcus Johansson chasing puck

Marcus Johansson keeps the puck away from the red team during the final 2010 Caps Develoment Camp scrimmage.

Every July, the Capitals hold a development camp for all of their prospects and some other invites. Participants can range from past draft picks that haven’t broken into the professional leagues yet, new draft picks, players from Hershey and just overall players that the Caps are interested in.

Development camp runs for one week, usually in the middle of July, and is held at Kettler. It’s meant to be a time where head coach Bruce Boudreau, General Manager George McPhee and owner Ted Leonsis can look at everyone and decide who should come to training camp in September. However, from a fan’s point of view, development camp is the perfect hockey fix in the middle of summer.

The camp attendees are divided into two groups. The first couple of days are just practice days, but as the week goes on, there are a total of three scrimmages. On the last day of camp, the Caps hold “Fan Fest.”

Fan Fest is basically a celebration for fans. They can come out and watch the last scrimmage of camp as well as participate in other activities. Usually, there’s a big sale in the team store, an equipment sale of used Caps, Bears and prospect equipment, moon bounces and face painting outside, and there’s usually a current Cap who comes and will hold an autograph session. Fan Fest is completely free to the public, aside from that $1 for parking in the garage.

Rosters for the teams can be found on the Capitals’ website closer to when camp is supposed to start, as well as the exact schedule. Some notable players who have attended camp in the past are: John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Semyon Varlamov, Marcus Johansson, Braden Holtby and Mathieu Perreault.

Poor Man’s Hockey

John Carlson - Kettler

Back in the day (roughly four years ago), the Caps were awful. Therefore, ticket prices were insanely cheap. These were the days when you could sit up in those eagles nest seats for a whopping $10. But alas, with the team’s success has come a raise in ticket prices.

Now, if you’re one of those fans who loves the game but just can’t splurge the money to attend the games, there’s a much cheaper way to see your hometown team. The solution: practice. All Caps practices are open to the public, except those rare one or two times a year when they’re held at Verizon Center and free. Yes, FREE. The only charge you’ll have to pay is the $1 for the first three hours of parking during the week and only $1 all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Another bonus of going to Caps practice is that you can meet some of the players. I’ll have a more detailed post about that later, but for the time being, all you really need to know is that the Caps love their fans and that if you wait after practice, they’ll sign almost anything.

The schedule is pretty easy to remember. The Caps are on the ice at 10:00 a.m. on game days for a roughly half hour morning skate, 11:00 a.m. the days after a game and 10:30 a.m. on the other days unless otherwise specified.

The team practices at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. It’s conveniently right off the Ballston stop on the Orange Line on the Metro and is located on the top level of the Ballston Commons parking garage.