They say the devil will be attractive.
They say you should keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and probably two or three other demographics in even closer proximity still, depending on your level of animosity towards them.
There is no city closer to the beating heart and pulsing medulla oblongata of America than Washington DC, our exalted capital, and the world’s most famous terraformed swamp. In a city where applying to Subway means obtaining a security clearance, and applying to the subway means praying Metro doesn’t self-immolate, issues of safety and security are never far from mind. And while Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or any number of saber-rattling fleshy pod-people can continue to harrumph and guffaw about the importance of tighter surveillance, it may be that the enemy is already at our gate. Or indeed, within it, getting its nasty shoes on our couch while we hurry to put down coasters.
You see, I watch the news. I read the reports. I know what “misfortunes” can befall those who oppose the Kremlin. So, with that in mind, I am absolutely, unequivocally, categorically not saying the following: the Washington Capitals are Russian spies.
To assert otherwise (that is, to claim they are spies) would be reckless and absurd. I mean, sure, there are some curious similarities between the Washington-based NHL hockey club and the general operating structure of a Russian splinter-cell group. In fact, quite a number. But those are just coincidental, and any suggestion to the to the contrary isn’t worth a ruble. Er, cent.
Okay, yes. There is Alex Ovechkin. The team is run by a larger-than-life He-Man who exerts his will with great force, eschewing the tacit finesse expected and valued in the rest of the world. Yes, his goals are dramatic and frightening, and he could potentially spell the end of North American supremacy. Yes, he lives life with the sort of bare-and-barrel chested gusto that leads to photographs astride bears or other non-domesticated transport animals. But to call him a Czar, or some kind of President-For-Life… well, that’s just ridiculous.
Alright, true: the Capitals do have the league’s most thrilling young Russian superstar in Evgeny Kuznetsov. His style is miles away from the Russians of yesteryear; neither big, lumbering, nor imposing, this youngster from Chelyabinsk infiltrates our hearts and minds with honey rather than vinegar. He smiles for interviews. He parrots Americanisms like “not my first rodeo” even though he has no idea what a rodeo is. He claims to love “Family Feud.” Of course, this is precisely what lowering our guard and rendering ourselves susceptible to cyberterrorism would look like, but I’m not saying that. I’m definitely not.
And, okay, yes. The Capitals might have a firebrand Russian defenseman named Dmitry Orlov, who can dance around defenders like Baryshnikov and seamlessly transition to offense, but to compare this type of adaptable mobile deployment to a SAM launcher on the border with Ukraine would be most unwise. Orlov packs a devastating wallop, and he is perfectly capable of incapacitating anyone and anything from Sidney Crosby to a select group of the easternmost European capitals. It’s true that some in the West(ern Conference) wants to say that Dmitry is only a threat to the East(ern conference), and is therefore a problem they should deal with themselves. And, okay, sure: it’s true that Orlov means “eagle” in Russian, which would present a simple one-to-one swap with our current national symbol. But such coincidences are merely that: simple, treasonous, poisonable coincidences.
So by all means, continue cheering for this year’s Washington Capitals–who are currently having the best season in NHL history–without trepidation or awareness. Keep buying red jerseys printed with Russian names. Never once wonder why the NHL team with the most Russians plays just minutes from the White House and Congress. Just keep “rocking the Red,” as they say, and don’t forget that the blinking red light you see on your ticket, and the shuffling noises you hear in the rafters – well, those are just some “late-night filings.”
Jason Rogers is’/was a writer who may or may not still be alive. You should follow him on Twitter.