Michael Robertson traveled thousands of miles to be here in Washington with his very good pup, Ovie the Bulldog, for the Stanley Cup finals.
Not to go to a game. Just to stand outside Capital One Arena.
“There’s no way we couldn’t not come back,” said Robertson, a former Maryland resident who now lives in California. “We had to come back.”
Robertson, 47, and Ovie, 8, were at the arena Wednesday night as fans swarmed outside before puck drop and the Internet-savvy bulldog hung out in a little red jersey. It was Game 2 of the finals, and the Capitals were on the road, facing the Golden Knights. Although the game was in Las Vegas, throngs of Washington fans gathered here for a watch party; more than than 14,000 were in attendance to watch on the arena’s big screen, according to the Caps. Plus one dog, waiting outside.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Robertson, who planned to remain in town for Games 3 and 4, at least.
Robertson said he used to be a season-ticket holder when he lived in the area, until Ovie came along, and he started watching games at home with the dog. Then came years of postseason disappointment for the Caps and, for Robertson, an eventual move to California in 2014. At the time, he joked that the Caps would make it to the Cup finals.
“And here we are four years later,” he said.
Robertson spoke of the camaraderie of Caps fans, who have spent years suffering together. There had been so much doubt this season, Robertson said, but despite all of that, Washington “has been amazing this year.”
“I’ve been pretty skeptical,” he said. “I kept waiting for my alarm to go off after they beat Tampa. Just wake me up and be like: ‘Oh, it was just a bad dream. We lost, [Steven] Stamkos had four goals and three assists and, you know, pack the jersey up for next year.’ But they won, and I made the plan. Drove out.”
Ovie has made it inside the building before. But when it came to Wednesday night’s watch party … well, things didn’t look great.
“I’m going to try [to sneak Ovie in.] Listen, nothing ventured, nothing gained, trying to get into this,” Robertson said. “The worst they can say is no. The best they can say is yeah. If we get in, we’ll wander the concourse, find an open seat.”
(It didn’t happen, sorry to Ovie.)
There is a policy for this sort of thing, which states that animals are prohibited inside the arena, with the exception of trained service animals, according to a Capitals spokeswoman. Service animals are allowed inside, but they have to stay on a leash or harness at all times.
Which is fair. Totally reasonable. Very normal. There is nothing wrong with this policy. No one get mad at the Caps for this. But if they let this good hockey dog in for Game 3 on Saturday … uh, I’m just saying, I’d be fine with that, too.
“This is his retirement ride,” Robertson said. “I said he had one more trip in him back east. Because it’s such a hard drive, he gets stressed in the car. And what better final ride east before retiring from those long drives than the Stanley Cup?