As a follow-up to my previous post about Bandwagon Sports Teams, I would like to get something straight with everyone out there. The Washington Capitals are not a bandwagon team. I know a lot of you haters are out there and wold like to argue with me about how come I included the Nationals on my list, and yet not the Caps, who are the hottest ticket in the area.
True, the Caps have an unbelievable recent success on the ice and in ticket sales. And yes, I will admit that this didn’t start to happen until the middle to end of last year when Bruce Boudreau took over as coach and the Caps went from worst in the league to the Southeast Division champions and played pretty solid in the play-offs. And we all know that that has spurred a huge increase in Caps fans this year.
I have noticed a surprisingly large increase in Caps fans, but I am not going to say that the Caps have a bandwagon fan base following. How then, do I explain this newfound “phenomenon?” Well my hypothesis is that a large portion of today’s Caps fans (at least half) were at one point dedicated Caps fans. These people were Caps fans before the team had their losing streak of a few years. I’m talking about the Caps fans who liked the team before the lockout. These fans loved the Caps in the early days of the 2000′s, at the latest.
In these earlier days, the Caps started to get rid of a lot of big name players such as Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Calle Johansson, and my favorite, Robert Lang in exchange for a whole new team of younger players and minor league call-ups from the Hershey Bears. Last year, when the Caps regained their momentum along with a successful new head coach, the Capitals’ franchise was up to the mark where they had been aiming at for years. That was the recipe that Ted Leonsis had been following; envisioning Washington D.C. as the newest, greatest hockey town to land in the country. Apparently Mr. Leonsis was right in his predictions, because the true Caps fans have stuck it through with all of the team rebuilding, and are still dedicated to the Caps.
So I think that a good chunk of Caps fans these days are the “original” fans from before the team rebuilt itself and its image. These are the fans who stuck with the team even when they were not playing on top. These fans didn’t necessarily care that the Caps might not have had their own recognizable “team color.” These fans stuck with the team having two main logos (which for the record, I will always prefer to the newer, modernized version of the first Caps’ logo, the text-only logo of the team name). With this being said, I think these earlier fans influenced their family and friends, and thus creating a bigger pool of fans. True, this doesn’t account for all of the Caps fans, and I am sure that with the popularity of Alex Ovechkin (as well as stars, Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, and Sergei Federov), some people have discovered the Caps and have clung to the team with a bandwagon-type dedication. But I don’t think the players, the organization, or for that matter, the other dedicated fans seem to mind.