The Washington Capitals and 1st Mariner Arena announced today that they will make a "special" announcement Monday afternoon at the arena. Baltimore city officials and Capitals GM George McPhee will be in attendance, so expect a pretty significant announcement.
This is pure speculation here -- and maybe a little bit of wishful thinking -- but it wouldn't surprise me if they revealed that the Capitals plan on playing a preseason exhibition at 1st Mariner Arena sometime in September. It just makes too much sense.
Baltimore will never be a hockey town, but more and more local sports fans are getting behind the Capitals as they look to break through with their first Stanley Cup during this year's playoffs. Fans gather at local bars to watch the Capitals, and in a recent poll on this blog, more than 90 percent of respondents said they would "absolutely" be watching this year's NHL playoffs.
The Capitals organization has expanded its reach into Baltimore, too. In February, former Capitals players such as Peter Bondra, Yvon Labre and Sylvain Cote came to Patterson Park for a youth clinic hosted by the Capitals and City’s Department of Recreation and Parks.
“I hope to continue to work with them," City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young said.
A game in Baltimore would be a logical next step.
We know 1st Mariner Arena can host a hockey game. From 1981-1993, Baltimore was home to the Skipjacks, which at different times was a minor-league affiliate of the Boston Bruins, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Capitals. The Bandits, who were affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks, played at 1st Mariner Arena from 1995-1997.
Given their rise in prominence and popularity with electric young players such as Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, chances are 1st Mariner Arena would be packed with local puck lovers if the Capitals came to Baltimore to play a game, even if it's just the preaseason.
Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog says he's hearing that the game will take place Sept. 20 against the Nashville Predators and be dubbed the Baltimore Hockey Classic.
So get ready to rock the red in September if that's what the Capitals and city officials announce Monday.