The Capitals won the Stanley Cup one year ago yesterday in Las Vegas after beating the Golden Knights in Game Five. After a grueling 13-year wait for captain Alex Ovechkin, an 11-year wait for alternate captain Nicklas Backstrom, Washington, DC would be able to call Lord Stanley their own for the first time in the franchises’ 44-year history.
The day after the anniversary, let’s look at some of the most memorable emotional moments from the on-ice celebration after the last buzzer sounded.
The Capitals on the bench waited for one last faceoff with 0.6 seconds left on the clock, that fraction of time all that stood between them and a dream coming true.
The only thing that makes this moment better is the call from John Walton, so put your sound on to hear him say, for the first time: “The Washington Capitals are the 2018 Stanley Cup Champions.”
Ovechkin seemed to get overwhelmed as the Caps first gathered to celebrate together, but Matt Niskanen had his back.
When Tom Wilson was similarly overwhelmed, he turned to Ovechkin in much the same way.
Schmidt was a big part of the Capitals’ team before going to Vegas in the expansion draft. He and Braden Holtby were especially close and the two exchanged a hug in the handshake line.
Ovechkin and Chiasson became close friends over the course of the season, playing poker together as seatmates on the plane. Chiasson was one of the last black aces (players who stay with the team in case of injury but aren’t expected to play) to join the team on the ice.
TJ’s father has early-onset Alzheimers. When they embraced, TJ said he thought his dad would remember this one. The next morning he did.
Ovi hugged Nicklas Backstrom’s mom and partner Liza after the families joined the players on the ice.
Trotz was the only one on the ice who had waited longer than Alex Ovechkin to finally hoist Lord Stanley, and it was fitting that the captain was the one to hand it to him. After 15 years as head coach of the Nashville Predators, and four with the Capitals, he finally achieved the ultimate prize.
When the two longest-tenured Capitals hugged on the ice, Ovi told Backstrom that Backstrom was going to get the Cup after him.
Sure enough, after Ovi completed his circuit, he called for “Backe” and handed him the Cup. (Make sure the sound’s on so you can hear Nicklas Backstrom yelling “f*ckin’ rights!” on national television.)
The two skated around the ice together, and when Backstrom–with two broken fingers from a blocked shot in the second round–needed help, Ovechkin was ready to lend a healthy, helping hand.
As Gary Bettman said in his speech before finally giving Ovi his Cup, “There could be no more dedicated and passionate owner than Ted Leonsis.”
In the end, it’s less about any one particular moment between players, and more about what everyone achieved together: the players, staff, front office, and fans. And (even though DSP got detained in an interview and slid in place last minute), this visual is perhaps the most meaningful.
Headline photo: Capitals
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