When I was a school-aged kid, the summer was a often a time you lost touch with some of your friends. It didn't mean you weren't still friends, but with vacations and summer trips, you just never had time to see each other for those few warm months. Then, in September, we all headed back to school and greeted each other like only a few days had passed. Old friends shared stories. New friends introduced themselves and quickly became part of the group.
With tonight's first home pre-season Capitals game, the start of the DC hockey season officially opens. It's a time of year that many, including myself, look forward to all summer. Such is the life of a hockey fan.
Metro cars will again be full of red-clad fans eagerly heading into the city and, later, heading back home exhilarated and (hopefully) happy. Local bars and restaurants will awake from their summer lull and will again see scores of Caps fans eager to share a beer and a burger with their friends. New fans will walk the Chinatown streets with their fresh, new jerseys and old fans will flaunt their worn sweaters with pride.
Inside the Verizon Center, old friendships will be renewed. A horn will sound and everyone will look over and smile. A bearded man with a bellowing voice will awaken the arena and 18,000 of his friends will return the favor.
Over the long summer, much has happened in Caps Nation. New Caps fans have been born. Some have traded in their season tickets while others have jumped at the change to claim those same seats. Just as players have come and go, Caps fandom is also constantly evolving. It's what brings a constant feeling of excitement and freshness to the start of every season.
It was a good summer and a needed break for everyone involved. Now, it's back to doing what we all love. It's back to doing more than write about the Caps. It's time to cheer for the Caps.
It's time for hockey. Oh boy, it's time for hockey.