At the age of 9, Ben Raby was making his own scrapbooks and newspapers to commemorate his hometown Montreal Canadiens’ Stanley Cup win in 1993. Now 34 and living in Rockville, Raby has switched his focus to the Washington Capitals. Raby is a host on the Capitals Radio Network, where he works alongside broadcasters John Walton and Ken Sabourin during games, and hosts the pregame and postgame shows.
Raby is also a sports anchor on WTOP-FM and writes about sports for other media outlets. WJW reached him last week as he was driving to Montreal.
How did you get hooked on hockey?
When you grow up in Montreal, it’s part of the culture. My dad took me to games at the Montreal Forum when I was 4 or 5 years old. And I watched Hockey Night in Canada, which is the Monday Night Football equivalent up there.
Did you want to be a broadcaster when you were that young or did you want to play hockey?
At 10, 11, 12 I wasn’t a big kid and so realistically I wasn’t going to go very far playing [hockey]. I always took an interest as a kid in journalism and used to make my own newspapers at that age. I recorded my own fake sportscast in my basement.
What was your Jewish upbringing like?
I was a member of a Conservative synagogue growing up. I went to a Jewish elementary school. Had Friday night dinners. Had a bar mitzvah. The whole deal.
What does a typical day for you look like during the Caps’ season?
A home game is a long day. It begins with the morning skate at the Capitals’ practice facility in Northern Virginia, which is usually around 10 a.m. I’ll do a few interviews there with the players. If time permits, I’ll zoom over the Capital One Arena where the visiting team skates and do interviews with the opposing team. From there, I’ll go to the radio station where we edit our audio and put our programs together at the WTOP office. Then I’ll jet back to the arena, for the 4 p.m. pregame show. We do a two-hour show from 4 to 6. Then I have little bit of a breather where I can grab dinner, and then we’re back on the air at 6:45 p.m. for the official pregame show. Usually with a typical game night, we don’t get off the air until a little bit after 11 p.m. It’s a long day, but it’s a lot of fun.
Take me back to June 7 when the Caps won the Stanley Cup. What were you thinking about in that moment?
It was an unbelievable experience as a whole. The whole journey in the playoffs was a neat experience for me because it was my ninth year covering the team. I’ve seen some of those strong regular seasons and playoff disappointments. It’s funny, the night was almost a blur. On one hand I’ve got a job to do in hosting the postgame show. On the other hand, you look around and take it all in. You’re looking down at the ice at the celebration, who’s hugging who, looking at the facial expressions. There’s so much going on. It was really neat. So many people waited a long time for that moment.
How do you maintain your composure in that moment?
I’m smiling when I say this. I’m pretty calm and composed. My broadcast partners John Walton and Ken Sabourin were pumping their fists and hugging each other. I was pretty cool, calm and collected.
Was this the biggest thrill for you personally?
There’s 31 NHL broadcast teams and only one every year gets to be a part of this. Folks have gone their whole careers and never had the chance to cover a Stanley Cup Final. So yeah, it’s definitely up there.
Last year you wrote the book “100 Things Capitals Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.” Are you going to revise it now that the team has a championship?
I might have to make a revision to the book now. I anticipate having a revised version next year with several chapters on the Stanley Cup run.
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