Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hounding Report: Washington Capitals, October 4-5

In two full seasons of hotel hounding in Boston I had never been kicked out of a hotel.

Sure, some restricted where we could go, most wouldn't let us go inside at all, and the Westin end of the Copley Place mall wouldn't let us hang out inside, but aside from that, no hotel had a problem with us waiting outside.

Apparently Dallas hotels are amazingly bipolar. The Capitals' one had zero problem with a few graphers waiting inside on Friday night, but decided to give us all the boot on Saturday afternoon. What the hell?  We're about 90% certain Ovechkin asked that we be removed.

A little info first: I will not be revealing Dallas hotel names on here. I did the legwork to find this one and to find the Panthers (who were staying at the Casa de Impossible, so I didn't go). You can do the work too. It's not hard; it just takes a little social engineering know-how.

Friday night we arrived around 6 pm. This was well after the team had arrived, but I had to work until 4:30 and had a 45-minute train ride from Irving. So I missed them early. Knowing how things often worked when I did hotels in Boston, we waited near the cabs, expecting maybe we could catch the last few leaving for dinner and/or everyone coming back. Usually players would start returning at about 7 or so, so we figured it shouldn't be too long.

Finally at 8:30 we had our first hit as Adam Oates got out of a cab and signed for us. The Hall of Famer is one of the best signers you'll come across, and I discovered he will usually do three per person. I also asked him if Player Personnel Director and former King, Ranger, North Star, Flame, and Red Wing Brian MacLellan travels with them. He said he sometimes does, but isn't on this trip.

As we waited a little longer, Arron noticed a bus pulling in.  The other graphers who came from out of nowhere when Oates arrived took off walking fast inside the hotel.  I knew it had to be the Caps' bus, so I took off with them from the outside.  Unfortunately I got there just as Ovechkin was walking through the door. The players paraded off and when they come that quickly, it's tough to recognize them.  I did at least get Holtby to stop and he signed two of my four cards.  Inside we got Joel Ward as well, signing two of four.  We called it a night after that.  Decent start, but could have been much better.

We came back the next morning and I met up with a couple friends from the TTM board (ghb5 and his wife) who came in from Kansas City.  They said they saw Jason Chimera inside and he signed, so I went over and asked if he would. He glared at me and said they can't sign inside the hotel. Huh, okay.

We waited outside by the bus and unfortunately most players apparently travel in an Anti-Grapher Buddy System-- sacrifice one player while the other(s) boards the bus.  We did manage to get Nicklas Backstrom (1-per, so he did my set card), Troy Brouwer (1/4), Eric Fehr (2/4), Mike Green (1/4), John Erskine (4/4), and Karl Alzner (2/4).  I also got Tom Wilson on an 8x10, but my gold pen crapped out so I erased it and figured I'd get him on it at game time with a better pen.

We didn't bother going for the Caps coming back from their skate, instead heading up to Triple Cards in Plano. I've decided I want to work on a master set of 1990 Pro Set Football.  The set is loaded with errors and variations and I want to try to get them all. I already have a ton from that set, so I'll have to scour them to find what all I have.  I picked up a couple of the rarer ones I could find (images of several of the variations can be seen here). I also grabbed a 13-14 Score hockey jumbo and a 13-14 Prizm pack. Pulled the Prizm version of Eric Hartzell's rookie and got a few cards for which I pulled the photos (cards 101-200 in the commons, if I remember correctly, plus some/all of the rookies; I'll have to look that up for certain). It's cool finally seeing some of my work in its full form.

We got back to the hotel, waited, and security came and told us to leave. As we were walking off, the bus pulled up. Assholes.

We did get Craig Ludwig at the Stars' pregame signing in Victory Plaza.  Even better, I got out some of my frustration playing Floorball, discovering I'm not too bad at it (I may join the weekly games in Fort Worth), and by yelling at notorious autograph scammer Andrew Miller (AKA rangersfan1982). Miller was been busted on a number of sites for selling fake Jurickson Profar autographs and was at the very least banned from SCN and TheBench for his illegal dealings. Looks like he was allowed back on SCN. So, caveat emptor.

Anyways, Miller was about 7 spots in front of me, and I yelled "Oh, they let scammers in here?" A few minutes later, "Hey Andrew, can I buy one of your fake Profars?"  After he got Ludwig and started walking off I shouted "Gonna learn to fake his sig too, Andrew?"  He was pretty rattled-- he really picked up the pace walking away after that. I will call him out any and every time I see him.

Fun story about Ludwig, he was watching us playing Floorball and when I get up to him he asks who was winning when I left.  I told him we were down by two and he looks at me astonished, asking "And no one was yelling at each other, throwing any elbows, getting the sticks up?!"  I told him "Well, I thought I might have to drop the gloves to get a little spark going, but I couldn't find a willing partner." He looks at my fedora and says "Next time just throw that Walter White hat at 'em, that should do it!"

Totals: 22 autographs (not including the erased Wilson)

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