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NHL Asked to Stop Selling ‘Sniper’ Cap

October 18, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ In hockey lingo, a ``sniper″ refers to a team’s top scorer. But with a real-life killer sniper on the loose in the Washington area, one item in the National Hockey League’s official online store was causing some people to gasp Thursday.

The Web site listed for sale a Washington Capitals ``Navy Sniper Fitted Cap.″ In fact, there was one sniper cap or another for each of the 30 teams in the league. The Pittsburgh Penguins had a ``Black Sniper Fitted Cap.″ The Colorado Avalanche had one in blue. Fans of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks could buy a purple version of the sniper fitted cap.

``Certainly that phrase has a little bit different connotation in our market,″ said Capitals spokesman Kurt Kehl, who was alerted to the presence of the sniper caps on the Web site by The Associated Press. After speaking with NHL representatives, Kehl explained the real meaning of the caps’ name.

``Apparently it was meant to play on the phraseology of a very good player in the NHL being referred to as a ‘sniper’ or a ‘sharpshooter.’ Every team has their sniper,″ Kehl said. ``That’s how they came up with this phrase for this line of hats.″

Since Oct. 2, a sniper has killed nine people and wounded two others in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The killer has eluded a massive manhunt.

Several people on the streets of downtown Washington who were shown the Web page with the sniper hat were shocked.

``For right now it’s kind of horrible and disrespecting the people who lost their lives, and I hope that they do change it,″ said Elnur Veliev.

``I guess it’s probably a good idea to take it off, because right away I think of the sniper guy going around shooting,″ said Richard Nishimura, who described himself as a hockey fan.

However, having learned about the sniper caps, the Capitals promised to get the name changed.

``We are sensitive to it, and we’re going to ask the NHL to remove that phrase,″ Kehl said. ``Right now it’s called ‘Navy Sniper Fitted Cap.’ We may just change that to ’Navy Fitted Cap.‴

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Associated Press Writer Candace Smith contributed to this report.

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On the Net:

NHL: http://www.nhl.com

Capitals Navy Sniper Fitted Cap page: http://shop.nhl.com/msnnhl?partnoNHL-SNIPER-030&linkmsnnhl

Washington Capitals: http://www.washingtoncaps.com

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