WASHINGTON — Among the area’s devoted Washington Capitals fans is 90-year-old Grace Cohen of Alexandria, a season-ticket holder since the Caps’ inaugural 1974 season.
She was given the honor of sitting in the owner’s box Monday night to see the Caps blow out the Vegas Golden Knights, 6-2.
“It was one of the most marvelous evenings of my whole life,” Cohen said. “It was unbelievable. This has never happened to me before.”
Along with her late husband Jay Cohen, she has been through all the peaks and valleys of the Caps’ 44-year history in D.C., and her bond with the team is deep.
Over the years, many Caps players have been to her home to share dinner, including Hockey Hall of Famer Larry Murphy and Nick Kypreos. When Michal Pivonka defected from the Czech Republic in 1986 and landed at Dulles International Airport, his first dinner on free soil was in the Alexandria home of Jay and Grace Cohen.
“We love the Caps. We like hockey players as people. Of the major sports, I think they are by far the best guys,” Cohen said.
Cohen’s husband Jay spent much time observing Caps practices and wound up driving the team’s rookie bus for two years.
Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis extended the invitation to Cohen to view Game 4 from the owner’s box. And after elbowing with the VIPs, she also got down with the fans who filled the streets of Chinatown celebrating the victory.
“The sea of red on that street was incredible. … This mass of humanity, all in red and up two blocks, wall-to-wall,” she said.
Eager to see her beloved Caps win the series over the Golden Knights, Cohen will watch Game 5 in her home surrounded by Caps souvenirs, pictures and team memorabilia that she’s collected over the years. From her love of the team and wisdom of the game, she offers simple advice:
“Play the way they have … play their game and hit a lot,” Cohen said.
Too sensible to discuss, at this point, any prospect of winning the Stanley Cup, Cohen is simply enjoying the ride and looking ahead to the future.
“I’ve already renewed my tickets for next season, because I love going,” she said. “I think they’re going to be good next year, too.”
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