The Washington Capitals will play all of their preseason games in their home arena next season after two experiments in Baltimore yielded less than favorable results.
The team played exhibitions in the Charm City in 2011 and 2013 — and had one canceled due to the 2012 lockout — but announced Thursday that they will not do so again in 2014.
“The Baltimore Hockey Classic was a terrific event, and we were overwhelmed with the support from the city of Baltimore, Baltimore Arena and our fans in Maryland,” a Capitals spokesman said in an email to CSNWashington.com. “But after evaluating all of our options, the decision was made to play all home preseason games at Verizon Center next season.”
Baltimore Arena seldom hosts hockey games, and the Capitals’ two preseason matchups there were marred by shoddy, bordering on dangerous ice conditions. The 2013 edition, which drew just 7,634 fans, also featured a scary moment when a pane of glass fell to the ice after Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s relatively innocuous hit on Boston Bruins prospect Chris Casto.
“You can’t hold the puck, you can’t shoot it and you’re afraid to go to the boards because it’s too dangerous out there,” Ovechkin said after last year’s game. “First couple of periods, it was hard to be out there because you know it’s kind of dangerous, and you see what happened with the glass. It’s kind of scary.”
Baltimore Arena general manager Frank Remesch said he was not surprised with the team’s decision.
“I honestly never thought they were coming back,” Remesch told CSNWashington.com. “Really, we needed to be perfect. Everything is magnified when you host one game a year, and if they’re going to give up a home game and travel to a smaller venue, then we need to be perfect, and we weren’t.”