Comparing Game Day Experiences for the Caps, Wizards

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Rob Yunich:

With Verizon Center mostly dormant these days (although the WNBA regular season starts soon), it’s time for one last look back at the seasons there for the Washington Capitals and Wizards.

Crowds: The Caps sold out every game last season and their crowds are one of the loudest in the league. They’re into every game and, for the fans of visiting teams that do get in, they are faced with being drowned out and/or heavily heckled. Verizon Center is a sea of red for Caps games and it’s definitely impressive.  The Wizards largely get a pass on this one, because the Caps were once in their shoes. Despite that fact, the crowds that do attend Wizards games are involved, although there are definitely periods of silence during the game. But you can tell that there’s a vibe in the air and the arena most definitely will get louder as the team improves.

Music: The NHL has always been a hard rock league and the NBA tends to lean more towards rap and R&B. There are exceptions, but that’s typically what is heard at Caps and Wizards games, respectively. The Caps added a nice twist last season with the popular Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt putting together a mix of his favorite music during warm-ups. During the game, there are plenty of rock tunes to choose from and some songs tied to a power play, etc. The Wizards don’t really have a theme for their music, although they do play Guns and Roses’ iconic “Welcome to the Jungle” at the start of every game. (The Caps, for the most part, have leaned on “The Game” by Motorhead.)

Video Montages: The Caps, of course, have “Unleash the Fury,” which has taken on a life of its own. When those first few words from “Invincible” play (“starting today, we’re on the path towards winning”) the crowd knows what’s coming and starts to stand. The Wizards haven’t established one of those yet, although they share with the Caps in some of the late game rally-type montages. It’s a work-in-progress for the hoops squad.

Cheerleaders (aka Red Rockers vs. Wizard Girls): Cheerleaders have different roles in the NHL than they do in the NBA, starting with the fact that most of them don’t go on the ice. They’re around at both games, although the Wizard Girls do an on-court dance routine at some point during the game and change outfits at least twice during the game. The Red Rockers mostly stay on the concourse (the Wizards Girls are in the corners of the floor) and help with T-shirt distributions and awarding fans with prizes, etc.

Mascots (aka Slapshot vs. G-Wiz/G-Man): This is a no contest. Slapshot is a great eagle that skates and helps with between-period contests and of course poses with fans. He’s even got a Mini-Me character that joins him from time to time. G-Wiz is a magician thing that morphs into G-Man (an all polyester-suit guy) that helps with a dunk demonstration after the third quarter and plays a very loud drum during a poor “dee-fense” chant. (Full disclosure: Slapshot has been known to wield a drum from time to time.)

Final Thoughts: The Caps have Goat and Horn Guy and the Wizards have this guy (who could be called a male cheerleader). Most of the noise at Caps game is initiated by the fans. At Wizards games, the sound system or G-Man’s drum dominate. That might change, but right now, Caps game are more electric.

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