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Caps have a ‘Major League’-style peel-away Abe Lincoln celebration poster

(Monumental Network)
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Don’t ever let anyone tell you pro sports are weird, just because they sometimes involve grown men wearing stovepipe hats and fake beards while peeling off 1/16th of the face of our 16th president as their friends — wearing their sweaty undergarments — hoot and cheer.

The Caps, of course, began the playoffs 16 wins away from a Stanley Cup. To symbolize that journey, Coach Barry Trotz introduced a poster of Abe Lincoln, divided into 16 numbered squares. These will be removed in order after each playoff win, by the player awarded the Abe Lincoln facial costume, given out in honor of “honest work.”

Lincoln has become something of a theme with this team — witness their official playoff logo — and so of course they would involve the Great Emancipator in their 16-stage countdown. I guess.

“It was the coaching staff’s idea,” Trotz said. “We’ve done it in my other life, if you will.”

(Watch the Caps remove Piece 1 and Piece 2 in these Monumental Network post-game videos.)

But while Trotz may have done peel-away posters before, his players seemed unfamiliar with the genre.

“You usually put [16] pucks up or mark something off on some sort of grid that you’ve come up with,” Karl Alzner said. “I don’t know who came up with this one but … I’ve never seen one like that. I assume every team does something, [but] not a sticker peeler.”

“I don’t know what it’s called,” Joel Ward said. “What do you call those Christmas things? An advent calendar? Or you know like in ‘Major League’?”

Ah yes. “Major League.” In that cinematic sports masterpiece, the Cleveland Indians — to spite their nefarious Vegas showgirl-turned-owner — march toward a pennant, gradually stripping pieces away from a cardboard likeness of Rachel Phelps until at last she’s fully exposed. If you’re now thinking of a naked Ted Leonsis, well, you didn’t get the idea from me.

To be honest, I was given one very good suggestion for what might be underneath ol’ Abe’s noggin, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise. All you can see right now is what appears to be two squares of blue sky, in the upper left corner

“I haven’t really looked at it,” said Ward, who is not taking this nearly seriously enough. “Is there anything showing on it? Your guess is honestly as good as mine.”

“We’re I think one win away from actually getting an idea of what it might be, so it’s hard to say,” Alzner said.

“I can’t tell you,” Trotz added, constrained by typical tight-lipped playoff mores. “You have to peel them all off to see. That’s the whole trick.”

And what is it called?

“I have no name for it,” he said. “It’s Abe Lincoln. Let’s see what’s under there.”

(Thanks to @martina09)