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The Washington Capitals have shown a thick skin through the first 3-games of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers.

A friendly gathering during game 1 at Verizon Center. (Photo by Ross Hollebon)

With playoff thuggery ramping up as desperation rears its vindictive head throughout the beginning of the second season, there is a fine line between being tough and keeping composure.

The Capitals have done a good job of it on the ice, avoiding retaliatory penalties (except for one John Carlson 2 minute sin bin stint I can think of) even with the line of Sean Avery, Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust testing the limits of how much contact they can make with goalie Michal Neuvirth before the referees bat an eye, or maybe even call a penalty.

Caps General Manager George McPhee added forwards Jason Arnott and Marco Sturm prior to the playoffs to add a veteran presence and teach the “kids” how to play aggressive while keeping their composure.

But that was not the only move near the end of the regular season that affected the teams skin.

Off the ice, Sean Parker, the Caps Director of Digital Media, made some adjustments to help the fans interactive experience introducing updated browser skins with 3rd party partner, BrandThunder.

“I wasn’t worried about the install base or how much traction it would get,” said Parker when asked about the initial browser themes. “I was simply thinking about something we could give to our fans that was unobtrusive but would allow them to interact with the organization every day.”

This was during the 2006-2007, when the fan base was passionate and loyal, but didn’t boast the depth it does today.

“This was back in the day when the club wore black and bronze,” said Parker. “The guys on the ice were getting better, [Alex] Ovechkin had a season under his belt, we hadn’t made the playoffs but there was a definite excitement about the team.”

It was this excitement and opportunity that led BrandThunder to reach out to the Capitals, often recognized for their thought leadership and willingness to be early adopters of technology, especially based on the background of owner Ted Leonsis and his critical roles with AOL.

“Sean was our first customer,” said Patrick Murphy, founder of BrandThunder. “Browser themes were not popular at all but Sean ‘got it’ day one. We were new, the market was new and Sean took a chance and has been very happy with the results.”

During that time, as internet service providers were enhancing offerings and most people were making the transition to high-speed access, Parker and the Caps saw more than 150k downloads of the original theme.

And now they have their latest version incorporating more social media integration, quick links to all the Caps news, information and resources from WashingtonCaps.com and shift on the fly theme options: “Classic Blue” or “Rock the Red” for Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers.

Visit the Capitals browser theme page to see everything offered, technical specifications and directions on how to download.

And though I “Rock the Red,” my Firefox browser is currently set to “Classic Blue.”

Let’s Go Caps!

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