By Dan Steinberg
Friday, January 29, 2010; D02
There was no more depressing radio spot this fall than the Papa John's ads that ran after particularly drab Redskins losses. Remember, you get one free topping for every touchdown, and double the toppings after wins. There were at least two losses in which the good guys never reached the end zone. That meant exactly zero free toppings.
Glory Days Grill is currently enjoying the other end of the scoring giveaway spectrum. The local chain offers 10 free wings (with any purchase) to ticket holders every time the Caps score at least five goals at home. The deal was brokered with the idea that the Caps would reach that threshold perhaps once a month, maybe 10 times on the season.
Well, try six times in the past 12 games.
"Obviously right now, they're on a little bit of a hot streak," laughed co-founder Richard Danker, a lifelong D.C. sports fan who helped arrange the promotion. "No complaints. Let's go Caps."
The offer is good for seven days after the game, and Danker told me they generally have about a thousand ticket-holders seeking free bird. While Glory Days advertises two score of wings, the restaurant serves orders of 6 and 12, so they just go ahead and give away the full dozen.
A dozen wings retail for $10.99. The Caps have already scored at least five goals 10 times this season (including the preseason). That's five figures worth of poultry, gratis.
(Speaking of absurd numbers, how about this one: With their 21-point lead in the Southeast Division, the Caps could start their Olympic break immediately, forfeit every single game between now and March 6, and still remain in first place.)
The low estimate by the Glory Days folks was perfectly understandable. Two seasons ago, the Caps averaged 3.09 goals at home. Last year, the number rose to 3.45. This year, they're lighting the lamp an average of 4.0 times a game, the highest home number in the league. Alexanders Semin and Ovechkin have nine games apiece with at least two goals; that's more than the entire rosters of the Flames and the Sabres, combined.
(Speaking of grooves, former Nats pitcher Tim Redding appeared on Sirius XM's MLB Home Plate channel this week, alleging that ex-teammate Mike Bacsik grooved the pitch that led to Barry Bonds's record-breaking 756th home run. "I think he wanted to give it up," Redding said. "I think maybe inside he was thinking he was going to get a little bit more publicity." And maybe it worked. Bacsik never would have made it into a Washington Post column about free chicken wings without throwing that pitch.)
Danker has spent most of his life rooting for the Redskins and Bullets; he went to the final Senators game at RFK Stadium and served on the D.C. Baseball Commission. Now, his restaurants show all the Caps games on television, hold Caps viewing parties, and court wing-seeking Caps fans to stay for more than just the freebies.
"It's nice, especially at this time in Washington, to have a winner," he told me. "The Caps are hot. It's amazing. I'm old school -- football, basketball, baseball -- but there's a lot of magic in that building, and it's neat to see."
(And if you're wondering whether you've read this before, yes, I did write about a different local restaurant chain handing out an unexpectedly large number of free wings during the Caps' late-season hot streak in 2008. I hadn't even remembered that until I started typing. This must be how Mike Wise feels when he realizes he's made yet another reference to Jeff Van Gundy in print.)