BRINGING IT HOME
Capitals, fans celebrate long-awaited championship
A sea of Washington Capitals fans, bedecked in red and white, washed over the District’s downtown streets Tuesday in celebration of the team’s victory in the Stanley Cup Final and the end of a 26-year-long championship drought.
“It’s rare in this town where everyone agrees on something and to have people of every race, gender coming together,” Lori Reilly, 46, of Alexandria, Virginia, said during the Capitals victory parade along Constitution Avenue.
Ms. Reilly had waited a long time for the Capitals to bring home the Cup, having witnessed their heartbreaking loss during their only other Stanley Cup Finals appearance — a loss to the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.
There were no official estimates of the crowd size, but photos showed a presidential-inauguration-style turnout on the National Mall, with thousands of Captials-jersey-wearing fans taking off a bright late-spring afternoon to cheer, one more time, the boys of winter.
Along the mile-long parade route on Constitution Avenue, the joyful players jumped off the double-decker buses frequently to mix with fans lining the streets.
Hours before the festivities officially started, the Capitals faithful swarmed Chinatown and the Mall, and bars such as the Greene Turtle at Capital One Arena
began selling promotions like buckets of beer just as early.
Official Stanley Cup gear was on sale on street corners, but some fans also wore more offbeat shirts — one depicted “The Save,” Braden Holtby’s win-preserving paddle save from Game 2, and another said, “My Cup Size is Stanley.”
Many players chugged beer when they were officially introduced by John Walton and Joe Beninati, the Capitals’ radio and television play-by-play announcers, respectively. Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin picked up Australian rookie Nathan Walker and flipped him sideways as he drank.
With an eye toward next season, T.J. Oshie instigated a chant of “back-to-back,” and coach Barry Trotz, who is entering the offseason without a contract, said, “We’re going to do it again.”
As much as a championship parade is designed to honor the winning team, Tuesday was also focused on thanking the fans.
“Since Day One that I’ve been here, you’ve made me feel nothing but family,” Wilson said. “This city is truly unbelievable. Passionate but respectful fans. And I just want to thank you guys for everything.
“Every time I drive on Constitution for the rest of my life, I’m going to remember this day and how amazing it was, and it’s all because of you guys,” Holtby said.
Before it was the team’s turn to speak, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser addressed the crowd, introducing herself as “the mayor of the world champion Washington Capitals.”
“We’re here today because we have the best hockey team in the world, we’re here today because we have the world’s best fans and we’re here today because we are simply the best city in the world, too,” Miss Bowser said.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, the CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, delivered a message about the “love and respect” shared by the fans and Washington community.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do was hold a mirror up to the people that we serve. And all I see reflected back is love, and that’s what this is about,” Mr. Leonsis said.
Ovechkin was saved for last in both the player introductions, which were otherwise numerically ordered, and the speeches. He gestured to the crowd to pipe down as they cheered him on his path to the microphone. In his signature choppy, accented English, he said: “What’s up, babes?”
The captain said he knew the parade would be crazy, “but it’s basically nuts.”
He invited the masses to sing along to a refrain of the Queen song, “We Are the Champions,” which has become the Capitals’ unofficial anthem and a celebratory finale to a season that began with some doubts and ended with a title.
THE PRIZE: Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin held up the Stanley Cup for all to see during a mass celebration Tuesday along the National Mall. He said he knew the parade would be crazy, “but it’s basically nuts.”
RED ROCKS: Fans were decked out in red Capitals jerseys, and the players jumped off the double-decker buses frequently to mix with the crowd in the streets.
Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin gestured to the crowd to pipe down as they cheered him on his path to the microphone. In his signature choppy, accented English, he said: “What’s up, babes?” He invited the masses to sing along to “We Are the...