Capitals center Lars Eller, the man who scored the game-winning goal in Game Five to give the Caps the Stanley Cup, missed the first several days of 2018 Training Camp due to a minor lower-body injury. Monday, the 29-year-old center returned to the ice and spoke with reporters after his first practice with the team.
And on this day, Eller gave the media a treat. He revealed the full story of how he got his seemingly random “Tiger” nickname.
When a reporter asked if Eller still didn’t know how he got the nickname “Tiger,” Eller was quick to correct him, saying he’d shared the story before. But that’s not completely forthcoming.
In a January interview with Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, Eller had said that it came from a team-building exercise. He played it pretty close the vest.
“That’s all I have to say about Tiger,” he said. “Just Tiger.”
Monday, he was more forth-coming this time around and shared the origin story in its entirety.
“It was a Tony Robbins seminar we had with the team,” Eller said. “I was up on the stage, I think we had to choose some personal, like a spiritual animal or something. I yelled out ‘tiger’ and from that day on, it was just. The guys were loving it. It’s been ‘Tiger’ from that day.”
Robbins posted a photo from his seminar on Twitter.
— Tony Robbins (@TonyRobbins) April 5, 2017
After the Capitals won the Stanley Cup, Robbins posted a video on Facebook saying he was happy to “play a small part on their incredible journey.” The video contains short clips of that 2017 seminar. Highlights included punching pieces of wood, yelling “I will not be denied!” and some sort of hand-to-hand grappling.
Unfortunately, the video does not include the fateful moment that Lars Eller first yelled out that his spirit animal was a tiger. (Alternatively, you could say tigers would be his Patronus spell and avoid any Native American cultural appropriation.)
News of the nickname didn’t leak to the public until November of 2017. Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post reported that his teammates had given Lars Eller the new nickname.
So, Caps players have started calling Lars Eller, "Tiger." Reasons unclear. But I kind of want Capital One Arena to play "Eye of the Tiger" every time Eller scores now.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) November 10, 2017
In January 2018, fans’ wishes were granted: The sweet strains of the Survivor power ballad started playing after Eller scored.
'Eye of the Tiger' is becoming a thing now. Tiger is Eller's nickname, of course, and the song is played each time he scores at home. The player finds it amusing. #Caps
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) January 12, 2018
When asked if he was being called Tiger back home in Denmark, he said, “Not as much as here. It really stuck here.”
Thankfully, Eller says he doesn’t mind the feline nickname that his teammates and fans have latched onto. “We’re having fun with it, in the room, the guys like it. No, I don’t mind it, I think it’s fun.”
Another reporter asked how to say tiger in Danish. Eller spelled it out thoughtfully, “T-I-G-E-R.” But then added that the ‘g’ is silent. Eye of the…Tier?
With a contract that runs until 2023, he’ll be hearing “Eye of the Ti’er” blast through Capital One Arena for years to come.
Headline photo: @TonyRobbins
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