CAPITAL ONE ARENA — Cheers echoed through Capital One Arena during the Capitals’ season opener Wednesday, but none of them topped the roar that began when Alex Ovechkin skated the Stanley Cup onto the ice for the pregame ceremony to raise the team’s first-ever championship banner.
“All the fans see the Stanley Cup on the ice, it’s a historic moment for us,” Ovechkin said after the game, a 7-0 win against the Boston Bruins. “I think tonight we have so many emotions, so much fun out there.”
In June, the Capitals clinched the Cup on the road in Las Vegas. Though players brought the trophy home and shared their epic celebration with DC, neither players nor fans had fêted the Stanley Cup at their home arena.
Wednesday provided that opportunity, and just before the banner-raising ceremony, Ovechkin found out he would be the one to present the trophy to the waiting sellout crowd. As he stepped onto the ice, he thrust the Cup into the air, then took it on a lap around the rink.
“Everybody was cheering for us,” Ovechkin said. “They’re still celebrating, I think. Good for them. It’s nice to see people smiling and people happy.”
Still, the ceremony affected players as well as fans.
“I think everything is better than you expect it,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “Everything is just so cool.”
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis followed the team onto the ice and took a moment to thank the fans. Several highlight videos punctuated the festivities, including one set to Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait” and another set to the Caps’ adopted anthem, Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”
Finally, the Stanley Cup banner ascended into the rafters.
“It might have felt long for some other people, but I could watch that banner go up for days,” TJ Oshie said.
Devante Smith-Pelly grew emotional as he watched the banner’s rise.
“I don’t think I was alone in getting a little teary-eyed watching it go up and thinking back on our accomplishment,” he said. “It was a great way to cap off a summer of celebration.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 3, 2018
Headline photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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