The Capitals celebrate their Stanley Cup — together — one more time

T.J. Oshie sauntered to the lectern a little past 2 p.m. Tuesday, the first Washington Capitals player to speak before an ocean of red on the Mall, all there under a dazzling sun. Some of the red-clad supporters had been there since 5:30 a.m. or earlier. Some of them had driven hours. Some of them had celebrated alongside the champions on stage all weekend. Oshie leaned into the microphone.

“Sorry about my voice,” he said. “We’ve been partying in the streets for a couple of days.”

The entire city could relate. The Capitals closed the delirious celebration of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup with a parade down Constitution Avenue and a rally on the Mall, the fans stretching from 7th Street almost to the Washington Monument. One last time, fans felt a connection to one of the greatest teams in the city’s sporting history. One last time, perhaps even more poignantly, the players were still a team, this team.

“We’re such a diverse community,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “We have such a diverse team, and there’s a love affair between the city and the players — it’s so fantastic. It’s sort of a life-changing moment for every one of these players and their families and myself and hopefully for the fans who had to endure a lot of time.”

Winning the Stanley Cup allowed captain Alex Ovechkin to secure his legacy, for team owner Ted Leonsis to feel vindicated in his vision, for a franchise to forever bury its haunted postseason past. But it also allowed these Capitals a few more days together. Some of them will return, but the churn of professional sports ensures some of them will move on. Tuesday, they celebrated together again.

“It’s unbelievable,” longtime center Nicklas Backstrom said. “We’re going to be connected. We’re going to be friends forever. And hopefully in 20 years we’re going to be calling each other talking about this day.”

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