Friday, March 20, 2009

Working alone

After a meatball stunt got hounds booted off a downtown Tampa hotel's property the last time the Washington Capitals were in town, I figured it was time to try an experiment that I'd been kicking around for a couple of weeks.

Rather than join the likely know-little crowd, if it was allowed, at the team's hotel before Thursday's morning skate, I set up closer to the St. Pete Times Forum to catch any player walking to practice.

Well, I'm happy to report that my experiment worked. I got autographs from the player who walked. Everyone else, I'm afraid, rode the bus.

Enter Plan B: Catching the team this morning as it headed out for a pre-flight practice at the Forum. That decision, far from any experiment, yielded much better results -- another 18 autographs, including 15 cards, in less than 30 minutes joining the four from Thursday.

It helped, too, that I was the only hound there.

For the record, I asked Alex Ovechkin, who notched his 50th of the season against the Lightning last night, if he had the time to sign a puck. His response? "Sorry, guys, not today." Also shooting down my requests were Nicklas Backstrom, an ailing Mike Green and Alexander Semin.

Among the signers:

Washington's Eric Fehr and Jeff Schultz, who both signed some speciality set cards, signed four each; and

Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, top, and John Erskine, the sole player I saw Thursday, also signed four cards each.

Thankfully, these guys weren't the only ones who stopped to sign. Tomas Fleischmann, who I watched play as an American Hockey League rookie up in Portland, Maine, signed this Capitals puck.

Tough guy Donald Brashear and defenseman Milan Jurcina signed the cards shown at top.

To be honest, there's only one other highlight:

~ Getting toughies Sergei Fedorov and Jose Theodore on Capitals pucks

Sorry, folks, but there isn't any photo gallery for the Capitals this time. Maybe next trip.

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