I am thinking about the way the city is responding to the current hockey playoffs — truly remarkable — and remembering the uncertain feelings when we were fighting to bring a team to Washington in the early ’70s. Many people felt negatively about the prospects of hockey in Washington, D.C.!
Only a few people know the kind of battle my husband, me and a few faithful friends fought to bring a hockey team to a southern city like Washington. I can tell you, following many meetings and a great deal of preparation and planning, once the process started with the National Hockey League, it was a three-day, round the clock battle to secure an expansion team! Hundreds of phone calls, telegrams, letters, personal visits, tough and rough meetings were happening until the final decision was going to be made.
We needed another team to make the then-new Capital Centre a viable business but the city wasn’t sure there was enough interest in ice hockey. At the time – in 1974 – hockey was considered to be very much a “northern” sport, for cold climates not necessarily for a southern city like Washington.
So what was our argument? We had to get letters from the President of the United States and lots of senators and congressman and from many of the embassies and convince the NHL that hockey in Washington, D.C. was good for their future. Our city welcomes people from around the country, including from places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and further north, our neighbor, Canada. They all come here to work and do business.
And, of course, Washington is home to the embassies of the many hockey-playing nations around the world, including Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Czech Republic, etc.
Even with those positives, it was not an easy sell. But determination and hard work paid off, and look at the fan base now!!!!!!!!!!!
Actually, it did take some time for the city to clasp these great players to their hearts but isn’t it exciting now?