Photos: Michael Marzzacco
It’s been quite an interesting offseason so far to say the least. Big changes are in store coming up for the Capitals and at least one or two changes will be made in the coming days with the expansion draft. In between all the offseason hoopla and with Father’s Day arriving, I decided to take this time to look back on how I got my dad to become a Caps fan.
My hockey background is unique compared to others. I never played the sport nor was I introduced to it by my parents. My uncle, who played hockey and is an avid Devils fan, had a bit of an influence on me. I even remember as a little boy how he put a big Martin Broudeur jersey on me (I’m sorry, I was little!) and I was thinking to myself “what is this huge thing on me?”
My dad was from New Jersey, like the rest of my family and relatives. While he grew up in Devils territory he attended a game or two, but he told me he was never avidly into it. If anything, prior to my love of sports, he was a big fan of the New York Giants.
I started paying attention to sports when I was in the fourth grade, but mainly just baseball. That fall in the beginning of fifth grade, baseball wrapped up and football was on only once a week. I needed a new sport or two to fill the void the rest of the week. That’s when I found hockey. I started watching the Capitals on TV all the time, but I was the only one in my family of four that was tuned in. Back then, the Capitals had the worst record in the league and every time they won it was rare and exciting.
The cycle of myself being alone in my basement watching the Caps continued for the next five years. What baffled me during this time period was that I hadn’t seen a live hockey game. I don’t blame my dad for this at all. I should’ve just asked, but I guess I never had the guts to since I was the only hockey fan in my family. We had a strong tradition of going to a few Nats games each summer, father and son, but I certainly hoped a new tradition would be born during the winter months.
After the Caps made the playoffs in 2008 and seeing how cool the Verizon Center looked on TV with that sea of red I knew it was time to ask the question the following season. That next season I was a sophomore in high school and was in a marketing class. In marketing we were all members of the organization “DECA” and one of the perks was the field trips we’d go on. One such field trip, which is my favorite field trip of all time, was getting to go to a Capitals game. I came home from school, told my dad about the field trip, and asked if he wanted to chaperone. He said, “sure”.
I remember that day very well. It was late October and we all boarded a bus. We got to Verizon Center before the doors opened and the Caps marketing department had a presentation for us followed by a Q and A session. When that wrapped up my dad and I remained down in the lower bowl to watch warmups take place. This was probably my dad’s first hockey game since the 1980’s, but this was my first hockey game ever. Hearing the loud music over the speakers and seeing a bunch of pucks flying at our face was surreal. Sometimes I even forgot there was a glass and caught myself ducking a few times.
When the game started we were way high up in the upper deck, but I could see the ice and the puck clearly. Not only did I fall in love with the live atmosphere, but most importantly, my dad did as well. The Capitals defeated the Predators that night in a shootout and Alex Ovechkin wasn’t even playing, but don’t worry, my dad and I would witness plenty of Ovi in the future. In fact, the very next game we went to a few months later Ovechkin lit the lamp twice. Attending that game would have never happened if I hadn’t ask my dad if he could help chaperone that field trip.
I forget who the Capitals played the game after that shootout win, but I do remember this. I was by myself in the basement getting ready to turn on the game when I heard some noise on the steps behind me. Low and behold, it was my dad. He came down to watch the game with me. From that game forward there were always at least two people in the Marzzacco household watching the Caps game.
Even when I went away to college for four years I was always tuned in whenever the Caps were on. Just about every game, my dad and I were always texting each other about what was going on, on the ice. We continued the tradition of attending games whenever I came home on breaks. During my third year of college, DC hosted the Winter Classic. I remember coming home that Christmas opening a gift from my dad. It was two tickets to that very game.
As I make a transition from a fan to a reporter, I know my dad will always be there to support me. Someday, I will be up in a press box. Maybe it’ll be in Washington. Maybe it’ll be in another hockey market, but regardless of where I hope to cover hockey, one day I will look down at the fans and see a father and son sitting together. When I see that I’ll immediately remember the time when my dad and I went to our first Caps game and began a new winter tradition. Happy Father’s Day, dad. And Happy Father’s Day to Caps dads everywhere.
By Michael Marzzacco