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NHL and Monumental Sports launch effort to save Fort Dupont Ice Arena

NHL and Monumental Sports launch effort to save Fort Dupont Ice Arena

Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Southeast Washington is in jeopardy. On January 25, Mayor Muriel Bowser requested that the money allocated for its renovation – about $25 million – be re-routed to other programs. Bowser cited urgent issues with building maintenance in D.C. Public Schools in her request. Per Fort Dupont's "Save Our Rink" campaign webpage, management was not contacted ahead of time to discuss Bowser's request.

The rink has been in talks for significant upgrades, including a second sheet of ice, for several years now. According to recent estimates, modernization and expansion should cost about $30 million, with Friends of Fort Dupont and the community at large raising the remaining $5 million.

Fort Dupont, the only public full-sized ice arena in the District's boundaries, serves thousands of young skaters and hockey players. More importantly, it serves as a community meeting place for kids from Wards 7, 8, and beyond. "Kids on Ice", their most popular program, teaches children how to skate for free.

Youth hockey continues to be popular in the D.C. area. But for many families, cost is a huge barrier to entry. Fort Dupont aims to make hockey more accessible and more inclusive to a wide range of communities in the area.

Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly also contributes to Fort Dupont, hosting hockey clinics for its youth teams. He's spoken passionately on several occasions about the importance of supporting young Black players and communities who look up to athletes like him.

A few weeks ago, Smith-Pelly and teammate John Carlson hosted the Metro Maple Leafs at Capital One, standing behind the players who defended one of their teammates from racist taunts.

On Sunday, Capitals owner Ted Leonisis, the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation, and the National Hockey League announced their launch of an official GoFundMe page to raise money to help renovate Fort Dupont Ice Arena. 

Each of the three page founders have pledged $100,000 towards the project's $500,000 goal. 

If you'd like to support Fort Dupont, especially as Hockey is for Everyone month kicks off,  you can donate via the MSEF GoFundMe page, visit the rink's website to find out how to reach out to city council members, or check out Friends of Fort Dupont's Twitter page.

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Backstrom backs away from previous comment that Ovechkin is always yelling for the puck

Backstrom backs away from previous comment that Ovechkin is always yelling for the puck

With no live sports to watch, people have to find ways to pass the time. A fun way to do it is with NBC Sports Washington's NHL 20 simulations of the Capitals' scheduled games. Some of the players have even gotten involved joining the broadcast or reacting to the game results. So now, we have Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin providing commentary plus actual players reacting to a video game simulation. What a time to be alive.

Nicklas Backstrom was the star of the first game that was broadcast on NBC Sports Washington -- a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on March 24 -- with a hat trick performance. The real Backstrom gave a FaceTime interview afterward and said, "I don't do hat tricks that often, so it was nice to seal it off with a hat trick. You see what happens when you can't hear Ovi scream all the time for the puck."

On Wednesday, Backstrom joined the media for a Zoom video conference and was asked about that very answer. He quickly clarified that it was meant as a joke.

"You know what?" he said. "I felt so awkward doing that interview to be honest. I'm like, I've got to try to make this funny as possible. I don't know how to answer questions about simulation games. That was obviously a joke."

When you think about a real person having to do an interview about their digital player's performance, you can see how things could get awkward pretty quickly. Then again, if Ovechkin were always calling for the puck it would not be that surprising. He is, after all, one of the greatest goal scorers of all time. He could be forgiven for wanting the puck on his stick as often as possible.

Backstrom, however, said of Ovechkin that he doesn't need to call for the puck. Part of what makes him great is his ability to find the best place to be to score at all times.

"I think looking at it, [Ovechkin's] never yelling for the puck," Bacsktrom said. "He's just that good of a goal-scorer and I'm happy to give him the puck every time too. I was just trying to make that funny interview."

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Hath's Heroes is keeping Garnet Hathaway busy during the quarantine

Hath's Heroes is keeping Garnet Hathaway busy during the quarantine

Like the rest of us, Capitals' winger Garnet Hathaway is just trying to stay sane and helping out where he can.

His charity, Hath's Heroes, which provides meals to first responders, is especially important in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Hath's Heroes started working with Capitals' Chef Robert "Robbie" Wood to provide even more meals to first responders, which Wood is matching, plus an additional meal to a high-risk individual in need.

“Chef Robbie has been serving the Caps for a long time and makes unbelievable food, I can attest to it, and they also have a great initiative with Kid Power and DC Central Kitchen," Hathaway said on the Capitals Talk Podcast.

While many are fortunate to be able to work from home or be with family during the pandemic, first responders are out on the front lines.

“It’s the social responsibility of staying safe, keeping your distance and trying to stay healthy and protecting those around you," Hathaway said. "So I feel that’s where we can all feel great about helping somebody, by taking responsibility for your actions and helping out if you can."

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Doing one's part is important to flatten the curve and Hathaway says donations of any amount are appreciated.

“For donations, if you can, if you have the opportunity to and you’re capable of, any amount really does make a difference.”

When he's not working with Hath's Heroes, Hathaway has been spending time with his fianceé and dog and trying to learn the Harmonica he got for Christmas. "Silent Night" was the first song he learned to play.

“Months away from the Christmas season, but I think I’ll be ready by then," Hathaway said.

Aside from downtime, Hathaway has taken solace in finding structure in his day.

“I think the biggest thing is trying to find a structure that works, that I can stay physically healthy and mentally healthy." 

“For everyone that’s feeling cooped up in their house, they gotta stay active and they gotta get some fresh air and they gotta stay healthy," Hathaway said.

While everyone has been binge-watching Netflix's hit documentary "Tiger King," Hathaway says he hasn't had the opportunity to watch yet.

“I might be the only person in America not watching Tiger King, but that’s not to say that I won’t get there at some point."

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