Spe­cial sec­tion:

The team cel­e­brates the Cup one last time.

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ADAM KIL­GORE

The city lines the streets to em­brace the Stan­ley Cup champs.

T. J. Oshie saun­tered to the lectern a lit­tle past 2 p.m. Tues­day, the first Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals player to speak be­fore an ocean of red on the Mall, all there un­der a daz­zling sun. Some of the red-clad sup­port­ers had been there since 5:30 a.m. or ear­lier. Some of them had driven hours. Some of them had cel­e­brated along­side the cham­pi­ons on stage all week­end. Oshie leaned into the mi­cro­phone.

“Sorry about my voice,” he said. “We’ve been par­ty­ing in the streets for a cou­ple of days.”

The en­tire city could re­late. The Cap­i­tals closed the deliri­ous cel­e­bra­tion of the fran­chise’s first Stan­ley Cup with a pa­rade down Con­sti­tu­tion Av­enue and a rally on the Mall, the fans stretch­ing from 7th Street al­most to the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment. One last time, fans felt a con­nec­tion to one of the great­est teams in the city’s sport­ing his­tory. One last time, per­haps even more poignantly, the play­ers were still a team, this team.

“We’re such a di­verse com­mu­nity,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “We have such a di­verse team, and there’s a love af­fair be­tween the city and the play­ers — it’s so fan­tas­tic. It’s sort of a life-chang­ing mo­ment for ev­ery one of these play­ers and their fam­i­lies and my­self and hope­fully for the fans who had to en­dure a lot of time.”

Win­ning the Stan­ley Cup al­lowed cap­tain Alex Ovechkin to se­cure his legacy, for team owner Ted Leon­sis to feel vin­di­cated in his vi­sion, for a fran­chise to for­ever bury its haunted post­sea­son past. But it also al­lowed these Cap­i­tals a few more days to­gether. Some of them will re­turn, but the churn of pro­fes­sional sports en­sures some of them will move on. Tues­day, they cel­e­brated to­gether again.

“It’s un­be­liev­able,” long­time cen­ter Nick­las Back­strom said. “We’re go­ing to be con­nected. We’re go­ing to be friends for­ever. And hope­fully in 20 years we’re go­ing to be call­ing each other talk­ing about this day.”

“Ev­ery time I drive on Con­sti­tu­tion for the rest of my life, I’m go­ing to re­mem­ber this day, thanks to you guys,” goalie Braden Holtby told the crowd.

Play­ers be­gan the pa­rade by hop­ping on dou­ble-decker, open­top tour buses along with team of­fi­cials, long­time sea­son ticket hold­ers, staffers and oth­ers. As any­one fol­low­ing their post-Cup ex­ploits this week­end would have guessed, a few play­ers car­ried cases of Bud Light, and play­ers hoisted bot­tles along the route. When play­ers reached the stage at the end of the route, many of them scur­ried to por­ta­ble toi­lets.

At the rally, team broad­cast­ers an­nounced ev­ery player one by one. For­ward Brett Con­nolly chugged a Bud Light when he stepped for­ward. Rookie Chan­dler Stephen­son downed a plas­tic cup with some kind of brown liq­uid. Oshie pulled his jersey over his head and poured a Bud­weiser through it, into his mouth, in some kind of new­fan­gled fab­ric fil­tra­tion method. Evgeny Kuznetsov ut­tered a four­word sen­tence so pro­fane it would be im­pos­si­ble to recre­ate in a fam­ily news­pa­per.

“Fi­nally,” Back­strom told the crowd, “we started play­ing hockey like we can party.”

The rally al­lowed play­ers to re­live the his­tory they had just cre­ated. On giant screens, videos cre­ated by the Cap­i­tals video staff showed high­lights from the play­offs. The big­gest cheer came when Holtby’s div­ing save — The Save — from Game 2 of the fi­nals was shown.

That may have been the loud­est the throng be­came un­til Ovechkin walked to the mi­cro­phone. Ovechkin hoisted the Cup over his head, a move he has re­peated count­less times since Thurs­day.

“What’s up, babes?” he asked the crowd, red beads hang­ing around his neck.

Ovechkin thanked the crowd, his fam­ily and Leon­sis. He echoed the chant Oshie had started — “Back to back” — dur­ing his speech, a call for a sec­ond cham­pi­onship next sea­son.

“And now,” he said, “I have a fa­vor to do.”

Ovechkin asked the crowd to help sing a song, and any­one with a Twit­ter ac­count knew which one. “We Are The Cham­pi­ons” blared from the speak­ers. Play­ers formed a line and threw their arms around one an­other and sang along, some­thing they have done time and again since they won the Cup. The crowd sang along.

Ovechkin then went back to the mi­cro­phone with a fi­nal thought, shared at max­i­mum vol­ume.

“I said — not me say it, it was just us say­ing,” Ovechkin said, hark­ing back to a now-fa­mous pre­sea­son quote. “We’re not go­ing to be f------ suck this year! We’re the Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons! Yeah!”

Ovechkin hoisted the Cup once again. A few play­ers passed it around, and fam­ily joined on the stage be­fore mu­sic played and they ex­ited down a short staircase. There were more mem­o­ries to share, more beers to drink. They were still a team for a lit­tle while longer. And maybe, in a way, they would stay that way for­ever.

“In 20 years no mat­ter where you are, on a couch some­where or who­ever’s do­ing what, we’ll stop and we’re go­ing to have a good time again,” for­ward Tom Wilson said. “These guys are brothers.”

“I love these guys. We’re all fam­ily now — for­ever.” Cap­i­tals for­ward Tom Wilson


Long­time team star Alex Ovechkin holds the Stan­ley Cup aloft for all to see as Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals fans do their best to take in all the sights of Tues­day’s cham­pi­onship pa­rade in down­town Wash­ing­ton.



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