I was sitting in the lobby at the Rockville Ice Arena when suddenly I was staring unbelievably at George McPhee. If I'd seen him at Kettler or the Verizon Center, I wouldn't have thought anything of it. But at Rockville? The Kid skates at Rockville. I skate at Rockville. George McPhee does not skate at Rockville. Like an idiot, I kept staring. And then I had a surprising conversation with GMGM.
When the Kid came out of the restroom, I did what any self-respecting hockey mom would do. I giggled excitedly, "Look! It's George McPhee."
The Kid may have rolled his eyes at my schoolgirl reaction, but he did ask, "Can I go talk to him?" Um...immediately.
The Kid was a little shy for about a nanosecond, but McPhee beckoned the him over and I snapped a great picture of the two of them. Actually, Kid looks a little goofy wearing a t-shirt and hockey pants, but they both have great smiles and McPhee is hugging him like they're old friends.
"Is that a good one?" McPhee asked. "Are you sure?" He sounded genuinely concerned about whether or not the picture turned out okay.
I pretty quickly ushered the Kid away to get his equipment on. "Kid, gotta get dressed?" McPhee asked, using the Kid's real name. "Get to it!"
"Do you skate here often?" I asked. Yep, I basically used a bad pick-up line on the Caps' GM.
He explained that he was there with his kid. He told me about the level his kid is playing at and how sometimes he'll scamper up to Rockville in the summer and skate while his kid's practicing.
"It gets harder once the season starts," he said. And I marveled at how casually he said "the season." He's talking about the NHL season, the Washington Capitals' season, in the same matter-of-fact tone I use to refer to the Kid's mite season. In fact, any non-Caps' fan may have assumed he was talking about his kid's hockey season. Now that I think about it, maybe he was.
He asked about my son, just like any other hockey dad. And I told him about the Kid, as if I were talking to any other hockey dad. I didn't tell him we've been Caps season ticket holders for years. I didn't tell him about this cool thing that happened at a Caps game. I didn't say anything about the new make up of the team or hopes for the upcoming season. In fact, neither one of us uttered the word "Caps."
I stood in the lobby of a local ice rink casually talking youth hockey with the general manager of a highly successful professional hockey team. Just one more example of what makes this sport so special.