NBC Sports Washington published an insightful interview on the Capitals’ four-year Cupiversary on Tuesday.
Speaking with Philip Pritchard, the Keeper of the Cup went behind the scenes of how the Capitals celebrated its first championship in the hours immediately after winning.
According to Pritchard, the Capitals did something that prior teams did not do: celebrate in the visitor’s city. The Caps won the Stanley Cup at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
No one celebrated winning the Stanley Cup better than the Caps 🙌🏆
Just ask @keeperofthecup ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/dJYGFLrGVf
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) June 7, 2022
Pritchard explained to NBCSWSH:
I remember after we were in the dressing room and all of the celebrations going on. Obviously, Alex’s emotions from the ice carried on in the dressing room. We went back to the hotel where all their families were and they had a little party there. Then Alex said, ‘Let’s go out on the town.’
I remember someone saying something about you don’t celebrate in visitors’ towns. That’s not a thing you do. You go back to the hotel like they did.
Alex said, ‘Las Vegas is a town for everybody. Everyone comes from all over the world. It’s no one’s town. It’s everybody’s town.’
That’s inarguable logic, if you ask me.
So the Capitals summoned the team bus and went downtown.
Ovi showing off the Cup to some Caps fans near the team bus. pic.twitter.com/FUrIWGsiy9
— Jason R. Pothier (@JRPothier) June 8, 2018
At some point, Ovechkin went live on Instagram while clutching both the Stanley Cup and a Bud Light.
“Sure enough, we went out,” Pritchard said. “We were going to MGM Grand towards Las Vegas Boulevard. We’re all in the bus and as always on Las Vegas Boulevard, it’s jammed solid. Alex made a captain’s call and went ‘C’mon, we’re getting off the bus, we’re walking.’
“Alex gets off the bus with the whole team, myself,” Pritchard continued. “We’re walking now, in downtown Vegas with the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin with the Cup over his head walking into the side door of the MGM Grand. We walked right through the casino and people are playing blackjack and slots. You can hear people on the phone saying ‘I think Alex Ovechkin just walked by.’ It wasn’t chaos. Maybe organized chaos. People were thrilled. People were pulling out their cell phones. ‘Guess where I am?’”
Waiting for the Capitals at the Hakkasan Nightclub at MGM Grand was world-famous DJ, Tiesto, who was friends with both Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Tiesto was holding a concert that night. Ovechkin got on stage with Tiesto and danced while holding the Stanley Cup over his head.
“That party went into the night and then we flew back to Washington the next day, which was like three hours later,” Pritchard said.
Once home in the wee hours of the morning, Ovechkin requested to take the Cup to his Northern Virginia home. Pritchard agreed to do so.
“We had the Conn Smythe as he had won that and the Stanley Cup with him and we drove right to his house,” Pritchard said. “We pulled right into his driveway, his garage door opened up and his dog came running out to see him. He was so thrilled to see his dog he put the Cup down and his dog jumped into his arms and came out.
“They got a family photo and he handed me the trophies back and said, ‘I have to get some sleep but we’ll see you tonight.’ It was so — I didn’t know at the time — Alex. But how much he cared about his family and the importance of the trophy meant to his family – but at the same time the respect for the trophies. ‘We’ll see you at the party tonight.’ I think that, right then, I had met Alex over the years but I began to understand more and more how much of a fan, how much respect he has for the great game of ours.”
The next time Ovechkin would see the trophy, he’d share the experience with his Russian teammates.
Ovechkin also slept with the Cup in his bed.
Headline photo: Chris Gordon/RMNB
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