“Red Rising: The Washington Capitals Story” by Ted Starkey
Ice Hockey, professional, history, Capitals
September 1, 2012
4 of 5 stars (very good)
At the end of the 2002-2003 hockey season, the Washington Capitals were in bad shape. Their play on the ice was poor as they missed the playoffs, finished with the worst record in the NHL, their fan base was shrinking, their status in Washington was quite low on the sports totem pole and the future was not looking good for better days ahead whether in the standings or in ticket sales. How the team transformed itself from this situation to become one of the more exciting and respected franchises in the league is chronicled in this book by Ted Starkey.
Not only does the book describe month-by-month each season of the improvement of the franchise, it also mixes wonderful stories shared by players with matter-of-fact interviews with front office personnel of the team. These interviews, not previously published elsewhere, explain what player moves and organizational changes the Capitals took to gain respectability. Of course, the most prominent of these moves was signing Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin but there was much more than just signing one player.
The details of the book are excellent in both the recap of the seasons in which the Capitals improved their record, but also their playoff adventures each season, whether they resulted in a heartbreaking first round loss or an exciting 7 game series. The best of these playoff recaps was for the 2012 season when they played two series that went the full 7 games and each game save for one – one in the second round against the New York Rangers – were decided by one goal. Interviews with many of the players gave extra insight into what was going on down on the ice, which added to the excellent reporting of these games.
The best parts of the book for me were the chapters on what the organization was doing to promote itself beyond putting together a winning team. Chapter 11 was my favorite one in the book when Starkey wrote about the Capitals embracing the new digital media by allowing members of this media such as bloggers access to the press box and locker rooms. The resulting publicity by allowing writers and bloggers to write about the teams has been credited as aiding the team with its marketing. That marketing was the subject of another chapter that was a refreshing read between recaps of seasons on the ice.
Red Rising is a book that will be enjoyed by hockey fans, a must-read for Capitals fans and overall a very good book that should be added to reading lists of anyone who loves the game.
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
Excellent. The seasons fly by as Starkey recaps the important games and details on each one. The reader will be able to read through each season and/or chapter quickly.
Do I recommend?
Yes. Hockey fans, especially those who follow the Capitals, will enjoy this book on the recent history of a franchise that rose from poor play and attendance to one of the more exciting teams to watch.
Book Format Read: