WASHINGTON – When Maria Troje looked at the 2009-2010 calendar for possible road trip destinations, she and the customer service team picked the Nation’s Capitol for an early November contest.
“Ovechkin is a big draw,” Troje said. “Washington as a city itself, there’s so much to see so we try to look for something where the fans are here for the hockey game most importantly, but also we think about what else can they do while in the city. And we want to make sure that it’s memorable.”
About 30 members of the crew toured the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery. Another group visited the White House and the Capitol. All told 48 made the trip.
The road crew is here for four nights. Upon arriving on Thursday, the crew picked a bar in advance to watch the Tampa Bay game at Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, a sports bar located a few blocks away from the National Archives Building.
“People who go on these trips, there’s a strong bond that they develop and they come back,” Troje said. “They’ve all been on repeat trips.”
Like season ticket holders Jeanette and Rick Thordson, of Circle Pines. The Thordsons, both 46 have owned tickets since 2000. This is the couple’s third road trip and first time watching a hockey game in Washington. Jeanette Thordson lauded the work behind organizing the road trip.
“So far it’s been first class and everything is taken care of,” Jeanette Thordson said. “It’s a lot easier to come with these guys, we get bussed, a pre-game meal, the hotel.”
“It’s kind of nice to go to games with other people of the same mind set,” Rick Thordson said. “You know sometimes you get seats and depending on where they are, it’s nice to go in a group.”
The Thordsons along with the rest of the crew sat in sections 114 and 115, which offered a corner view of the Verizon Center ice.
“The fans in Washington have been very hospitable,” Rick Thordson said. “We’ve been to Calgary and Edmonton and you don’t get treated that way.”
General Manager Chuck Fletcher visited the fans in the Dewar’s 12 clubhouse Center where the crew feasted on chicken wings, hot dogs and roast beef sandwiches before faceoff.
“It’s terrific to see a group here, you see the fans make the trip cross country to come to D.C.,” Fletcher said. “It’s a great place to come visit in its own right. It shows how passionate the fans are to want to travel here and for an early November game.”
“The last three years, it’s been a remarkable turnaround here. The building is sold out. It’s one of the loudest buildings, arenas in the NHL. There’s a terrific fan base here and they do a great job with their in game entertainment and they really have a great team on the ice and a fun atmosphere at the home games. So it’s a treat to come here but also tough to play in.”
The next road crew trip will be in San Jose and will include a group of 180. There are still spots remaining, and anyone interested in encouraged to call 651-222-WILD for more details.