Over the course of 38 NHL seasons, a total of 501 men have pulled on the Capitals’ sweater and worn it in regular season action. Over those same 38 seasons, many more than 501 men and women have toiled for the Capitals behind the scenes and away from the spotlight.
As the Capitals prepare to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their first game and season in the NHL, they’re also pausing to remember John Beamer and Lou Corletto, two longtime members of the team’s family, both of whom were associated with the organization for more than half of its existence.
Beamer passed away last Saturday and Corletto on Monday.
Washington’s group of off-ice officials and game night staff is a tightly knit bunch, and that’s no surprise given that some of them have an association with the team that dates back to the 1970s.
Beamer joined that group of off-ice officials and game night staffers in the early 1980s, and he was a fixture at press level at Caps home games for more than three decades. A lawyer by trade, Beamer also manned the public address system in the press box at Verizon Center during Caps games, keeping the media up to date on penalties, scoring, injuries and other details of the game.
“The game staff always gets taken for granted,” notes Dan Kaufman, former Caps public relations assistant under Corletto. “They are all people who have other lives, but showed up every night to make our jobs easier. John was one of those people who made the press box just a better place. He wasn't in it for himself, he loved being part of the team and devoted his free time to us, not for any financial reward but because of his love for the team and the game and the friendships involved.”
Beamer always had a kind word and a smile for everyone he encountered on game nights, and the Verizon Center media experience won’t be the same without his voice and his presence. I always looked forward to catching up with him near the coffee machine before games and between periods.
In recent years, Beamer’s son Conor has been working with the media relations department at Verizon Center as part of the team’s game night staff. Conor is every bit as good a man and a student of the game as his dad was, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to Conor and the rest of his family as well as Beamer’s extended “hockey family.” He will be missed.
“He was a loyal, loyal guy who was dedicated to the Capitals,” says Ed Frankovic, who worked alongside Beamer for years and now writes a Caps blog for WNST radio in Baltimore. “He did stats with us originally and then he moved on to the public address after that.
“He was a fixture for more than 30 years. If you came to a Caps game, he was there. If you had a conversation with John Beamer, you either walked away smiling or laughing.”
A Norfolk native, Corletto graduated from U. of Richmond in 1961. After a stint in the Army, Corletto served as director of public affairs for the AHL Richmond Robins prior to joining the Capitals.
Corletto’s front office career with the Capitals began in 1974, during the team’s first season of existence. He started out as a group sales representative, and was named the team’s director of public relations prior to the start of the 1980-81 season, a position he held for more than a decade. Corletto is also remembered fondly by the many people he came into contact with during his days in the District.
“Lou knew so much about hockey, loved the sport, and I don’t think there was a job in hockey he hadn’t done,” recalls Julie Hensley Waxham, who worked with Corletto from 1986-93. “Lou was one of the most genuine people I have ever met; what you saw is what you got. Lou always had a smile on his face, and a good story or joke to tell.
“He was generous and had a heart bigger than any hockey rink. If a player or friend needed a place to stay, Lou’s door was always open. If you had a problem, Lou was always willing to help out. I feel completely blessed to have had the privilege of knowing Lou Corletto, and am sad that the last time we spoke will be the last time we spoke.”
Corletto was the Capitals’ PR maven when the NHL All-Star Game came to the District in 1982 and he also participated in the Molson-NHL Slo-Pitch Challenge during the 1980s, a summer softball tournament in which Corletto took part along many members of the Capitals team in those days, including Rod Langway, Larry Murphy, Scott Stevens and Craig Laughlin.
“He was always around the players and he always made sure that they were well taken care of,” says Laughlin, who is now the team’s longtime color analyst for its telecasts on Comcast Sports Network. “Back in the day, we had a certain amount of community appearances we had to make as players here in Washington. It was right in our contract that there were four or five events that we had to attend every year. It was Lou that coordinated all of that.
“Somebody nicknamed him ‘Cupcake,’ and we called him ‘Lou Cupcake Corletto.’ I always remember him in the locker room, he was always around and he always had such a positive attitude. He always managed to bring a smile to your face after the game, win or lose. He was always there for the players. We’ll miss him.”
Corletto left the Caps in 1993 to work for the South Carolina Stingrays in the brand new (at the time) ECHL. He later worked for minor league franchises in Raleigh and Anchorage and was commissioner of the old Southern Hockey League. He also worked as director of communications for the Major Indoor Soccer League and ran his own consulting firm, Corletto Sports Marketing, Inc.
Those who knew and worked with Corletto remember his sense of humor, his dedication to the players and the team and his loyalty to his staff.
“Lou cared intensely about the people who worked for him and passionately about the Capitals,” remembers Kaufman. “He was loyal to a fault, making sure his people had what they needed to do their jobs and supporting them whole-heartedly. He had friends everywhere and knew everyone in DC and in the NHL.
“When I think of Lou, I think of how much he cared about all of us. We always played over Thanksgiving weekend, so I remember the guy who made sure I had somewhere to celebrate on the Thursday when I couldn't go home to be with family. And I think of the twinkle in his eye when telling a good story ... and he had thousands of them.”
Both Beamer and Corletto made the Capitals and the people around them better during their many seasons of service to the team. They’ll both be missed greatly, and they’ll always be remembered fondly.