Capitals and players celebrate Black History Month in style

From local artists creating special designs to player-attended hockey clinics, the Washington Capitals’ unique initiatives were on full display as the club celebrated Black History Month.

Capitals and players celebrate Black History Month in style

Feature Photo: @Capitals

The Washington Capitals joined the hockey world in honouring Black excellence throughout the month of February, but their efforts were on full display Monday night.

From partnerships with local Black artists to create special designs to hosting their second official Rising Stars Academy clinic, the club’s initiatives culminated with their special Celebrating Black History Night which was hosted Feb. 26.

Earlier this month on Feb. 19, the Capitals hosted their second official Rising Stars Academy clinic at MedStar Capitals Iceplex which featured off-ice panels and on-ice skills sessions with lead instructors Duante’ Abercrombie and Bryan King.

Alex Ovechkin made a surprise visit before players hit the ice while Ethan Bear, Joel Edmundson, Beck Malenstyn and Max Pacioretty also contributed their knowledge as mentors for the on-ice clinics.

“It was a great turnout, the kids were awesome and they're actually pretty good,” Ethan Bear said of the clinic. “A lot of good skills out here and some smiles, so it's a lot of fun.”

Bear, a member of the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition, remains steadfast in his commitment to growing the game.

“It was very important to me, obviously being with that group and trying to make a difference in the communities in North America to try and grow the game, I just think it was a no-brainer and to come out here and to see the turn out and all the kids having fun, it was perfect.”

Players arrived in special Black History Month jerseys, which were also unveiled along with custom-designed skates and sneakers.

The jerseys were designed by local artist J. Freeman Robinson. Sleek black and silver jerseys with subtle Pan-African details also played tribute to 11 Black Capitals players through history whose names can be seen in the numbers of the jerseys and on a special shoulder patch. These names include Anson Carter, Donald Brashear, Madison Bowey, Jason Doig, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Mike Grier, Mike Marson, Bill Riley, Reggie Savage, Devante Smith-Pelly and Joel Ward.

Local artists, Cory “Sierato” Bailey, Lloyd “Swaggy Picasso” Ferguson and David “Dez” Zambrano created the intricate designs, and the skates and jerseys stayed on full display for the duration of the clinics for all to be able to see.

“I like the retro, always retro. That’s very cool.” said Alex Ovechkin as him and his teammates got an early glimpse of the display.

These items and more are all being auctioned through the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation to help raise money for the Capital Impact Fund, which provides grants to organizations that can assist in eliminating cost barriers faced by individuals of color in the hockey community.

With the auction open until March 7, fans can browse and make their bids here.

As for Celebrating Black History Night, all artists and contributors for the month were treated to the matchup against the Ottawa Senators, which wrapped up perfectly for the home team when the Capitals took a 6-3 win.