The Capitals won the Stanley Cup on Thursday night. I was able to go to Game 3 in Washington after monitoring StubHub for days and buying a ticket after the start of game time, but watched the decisive game at a Washington Capitals bar in the Village in New York. I knew there was such a thing only thanks to fellow Caps fan Teddy Kupfer. We watched at the bar — actually, the Caps spillover bar next door because there was a line down the block for the original place — with our colleague Mark Wright, an Oklahoman whose hockey affiliation is as yet undetermined.
It was wild. After the win, this half-a-block in New York City was as jubilant as Chinatown in D.C. So much emotion has been built up over 44 years, and especially over the past ten years of playoff frustration, that Caps fans everywhere were overcome by waves of disbelief and joy.
There’s something delightfully atavistic about the spectacle of the Finals, culminating in a bearded guy lifting a trophy over his head. There is nothing quite like the Cup. No baseball fan ever says, “I hope we win the Commissioner’s Trophy this year.” But the championship quest in the NHL isn’t over until the Cup is actually in your team’s hands, hoisted, passed along, and kissed.
I’ve been a Caps fan for about 40 years. Back in the day, my Mom drove me and friends to games in Landover, Md., quite a hike from Virginia (my Dad was hockey-averse). Of course, we took her willingness to take us pretty much for granted, as kids usually do. A little while ago, I ran across a letter from my Dad from back then. He wrote that my Mom “is being dragged off to another Washington Capitals’ hockey game two weeks from tomorrow: it’s stick day. This time a girl about 30 who lives with this former student of mine whom we see pretty often is going to go with her. She badly needs adult companionship on these occasions, since she will also have three young animals in the car with her.”
So, on this joyous occasion, let me say, Thanks, Ovie, for bringing us to the hockey Promised Land, and thanks to my Mom, who eventually became a fan herself and has delighted in this postseason as much as the rest of us.