“I don’t think [Backstrom] thought anything of it,” Holland said. “It was just as normal as a piece of paper to him.”
After signing the broom, Backstrom asked the trio of friends if they’d like to take a photograph with him, so they did. That’s when things, as Holland would recall Wednesday, “started to get out of control.”
Daido tweeted the photo at the popular Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks and explained, “He signed our broom cuz we’re getting that 4-0 sweep.”
RMNB’s Ian Oland documented some of the immediate reaction to the photo from superstitious fans who believe in the hockey gods and jinxes and don’t want to hear that the Capitals are the odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup or that a former Post columnist says this is, finally, their year.
“So now, if the Capitals lose tonight, you’ll know who to blame,” Oland joked.
With Daido, Holland and Prosser in attendance, Backstrom missed his fourth consecutive game with a hand injury, and the Capitals lost, 4-2, in Game 3. The backlash against Daido and his friends was swift and, in some cases, ugly.
“One fan came up to us during the game and told us to leave,” said Daido, who left the signed broom in his car parked in the Capital One Arena garage. “It was unreal the number of people who recognized us [from the photo]. I was refreshing Twitter after every goal and I was trying to respond to individual people, like, ‘We’re sorry; we didn’t want this to happen.’ ”
“John’s phone was blowing up the whole game,” Holland, 19, said. “We thought, ‘They have to win, or we’ll just get pummeled on Twitter.’ ”
Holland encouraged Daido to ignore the trolls who flooded his mentions on social media.
“I’m a college football player, so I’m used to that type of stuff, but it was just kind of crazy people telling me they wanted me to leave and sending death threats,” said Daido, an Oakton graduate who plays tight end at Kentucky.
When Daido got home, he felt compelled to issue a lengthy apology on behalf of the “Broom Guys.”
Here’s the full apology, which appeared over six tweets:
Dear Caps Twitter, we are sorry. No really, we are. Waking up this morning as a bunch of 19/20 year old kids getting to experience something that has not happened in our lifetime got us a little too high. We thought it would be easy, we were wrong.We clearly underestimated our opponent, and our own organizations superstitions. We have been Caps faithful since the time we could walk and will be until we leave this earth. We know that things didn’t go that way, we were able to witness it in person.As soon as the puck dropped, we knew we f#%?ed up. We never wanted it to be like this. Instead of us hiding from the fact we potentially ruined the series, we must come together and realize this team is special.Never has anyone on here ever been able to bring a broom to get signed for the ECF. We must get behind this team and believe in them to send them to Tampa up 3-1. We want this as bad as everyone else does.Now for as the Broom goes. As most of you know the weather was a bit damp in DC, so the broom burning exorcism will take place tomorrow evening. We want to all apologize again from the bottom of our hearts to any and all caps fans. Tonight we are #AllCaps.Thank you for reading. We’re sorry.-John.p.s please retweet so I stop getting death threats in my mentions. Go Caps.
RMNB and NBC Sports Washington’s Michael Jenkins were among those who came to the defense of the Broom Guys upon hearing that some actually believed three fans with a broom had something to do with Washington’s loss and then acted like jerks toward them. (For the record, the Blue Jackets did not lose their first-round series against the Capitals because a fan asked Alexander Wennberg to sign a Swiffer after Columbus took a 2-0 series lead.)
“We all have our own superstitions for sure, but we were just joking around,” Holland said. “We honestly did not think it would become as big as it is.”
On Wednesday, Daido took a planned trip to North Carolina and left the broom in Holland’s possession.
“I don’t know if any players know anything about this, but if they do, I want them to know that that broom is going to be ashes before the Lightning come on the ice,” Holland said Wednesday. “I feel like for the sake of Washington D.C. and Capitals fans, it definitely has to be done before Game 4.”
It’s been done. On Wednesday night, Daido tweeted that he would upload video of the broom’s destruction Thursday evening, and that the Broom Guys were scheduled to join NBC Sports Washington’s pregame show ahead of Game 4. Which was a prelude to this:
While a sweep is now out of the question — thanks a lot, guys — Daido remains ever confident in his team.
“Caps in five,” he said when asked for a series prediction. “I’ve been positive through the whole playoffs, even when they were down 0-2 [to Columbus] and people were saying we were going to get swept. You gotta keep believing.”
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