"HE-E-E-RE COME the Capitals!"--once again that familiar introduction will bring a sold-out Capital Centre crowd to its feet this season. This is due to an unusual and vigorous effort by Greater Washington to keep its hockey team where it belongs: at home, for better or worse in the National Hockey League, but nonetheless dear to the hearts of enough fans and businesses to make another go at it. Yesterday, after a summer of suspense and financial scrambling, Capitals owner Abe Pollin announced that all things were go--even though season ticket sales had reached only 80 percent of the goal sought as one condition for the Caps, staying put.

The decision came after the Prince George's County Council voted 10 to 1 to grant six years' tax relief to the franchise, which, when you consider the jobs and other revenue benefits that would be lost to the county if the Caps skated off elsewhere, is not unreasonable. As County Executive Lawrence Hogan said when he signed the bill less than an hour after its passage, "If we didn't take this action, we would lose the tax forever. I felt I had no choice except to do this."

Some will argue (and some have elsewhere in this paper) that the Caps could have stayed on under another management without all this melodrama and hat-passing. But enough people in and around the city cared enough to make sure that Washington continues to be a major-league town in every possible way.

Here's to that--and to a rousing season on ice.