RMNB reader Greg Chernack reached out to us about a dream experience he had with his son at Nationals Park. The Capitals were at the game as part of their first public gathering as a team since winning the Stanley Cup. Greg shares his story and photos below.
Two days after the Capitals won the Stanley Cup — a game I watched from a St. Louis hotel, but kept getting calls from my sons after every Caps goal and when the game ended — I took my younger son, 10-year old Andy to the nats game. (His older brother had baseball practice.). We knew the team and the Stanley Cup would be there. Andy even asked me if he thought we would meet any of the players.
And then we had a day that we will both never forget.
We had been invited to an event to benefit a wonderful organization, Hope for Henry. This organization brings a ton of joy to hospitalized children. Birthday parties, visits from superheroes and athletes, including many of the Caps. They have an annual event at Nats Park and seem to bring special events with them — 3 years ago was Scherzer’s no hitter. Just before we arrived, we were told the Caps were in the adjoining suite.
When we arrived, the team was there in full force, separated only by a railing. Andy is very precocious and had no issue going to a seat right next to the team. He quickly struck up a conversation with Jakub Vrana.
After a few minutes, Vrana invited Andy to come over to join the team. (It’s worth nothing Jakub did have Andy make sure it was okay with me before he went over; I had no issue.). For a while, he was casually sitting with Vrana, Dmitry Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and at one point, the four of them shared a large popcorn. I’m serious.
Andy eventually decided to explore and borrowed my phone and a Sharpie. Before I knew it, he had pictures sitting with the cup, (taken by Tom Wilson whom Andy told that my wife was scared of him; he laughed), selfies with numerous players and head coach Barry Trotz, autographs from most of the team.
Plus some things I hadn’t seen as he had gone into the interior part of the suite with Oshie.
I learned and had photographic evidence that Andy asked Oshie if he could lift the Stanley Cup by himself. Oshie wisely suggested they do it together.
Andy also seems to have observed some sort of drinking game with Oshie and Backstrom during which Backstrom’s Stanley Cup champion hat fell off and Oshie gave it to Andy. So Andy now has Backstrom’s Stanley Cup champions hat and it has several signatures. Ultimately, Andy spent almost two hours with the team — they couldn’t have been nicer — and even brought a few other shy kids in to meet a few players. I told a few players that Andy now expects his name engraved on the Cup. They laughed.
At one point, a good friend of mine who was at the game texted me to ask, “Is that Andy in the Caps box?” He had seen him on the Jumbotron. Finally, another friend sent me a screenshot from the Nats broadcast showing andy again lifting the Cup.
Suffice to say, it was an amazing day. Thank you, Jakub, for inviting Andy in and thank you Capitals players for being so nice to my son.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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