On June 7, my team, the Washington Capitals, won the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League's championship trophy. It was the first time the team has won it in its forty-four-year history. It was a big deal.
The Stanley Cup itself is amazing. It was originally commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup by Lord Stanley of Preston, then Governor-General of Canada, making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, existing trophy to be awarded to a professional sports franchise. (Incidentally, the championship trophy of the National Women's Hockey League, the Isobel Cup, was named after Lord Stanley's daughter, who played the game herself and encouraged her father to commission the Stanley Cup. The Metropolitan Riveters won the Isobel Cup this spring.)
Another thing that makes the Stanley Cup special is that the league does not make a new one each year. Instead, the winning team keeps the trophy over the summer, and each player gets an opportunity to bring it to their hometown or another special place to share and show off with their fans, friends, and family. In addition, the names of the winning team members are engraved on the Cup, so they are forever part of its history. Adding all these names - and the silver to accommodate them - means that the trophy is quite large: about three feet high and thirty-five pounds. The Cup is legendary - the chants "We Want Stanley!" and "We Want the Cup!" are de rigueur among NHL teams. During the playoffs this year I saw fan carrying a sign that read, "My cup size is Stanley." Uh, LOL.
The Stanley Cup is extremely difficult to win. After a grueling 82-game season, the top sixteen teams duke it out in the playoffs. The winners ultimately make their way through four best-of-seven rounds, or up to 28 additional games, in order to win the trophy. After all that hockey, most players are injured to some degree.
When the Washington Capitals won the Cup a week ago, they carried it around the city to share it with fans - on sidewalks, in bars, on rooftops, in fountains. Yesterday the team paraded down Constitution Avenue and I was there, with, I don't know, probably 100,000 or so of my closest friends. Weather-wise, it was an uncharacteristically gorgeous day for DC in June. Here are a few photos.