When I woke up Friday, the first thing I did was check my phone to make sure it had actually happened. It did and a trail of happy tears rolled down my face. I finally could rejoice as D.C. finally had a title. At the moment of writing this column, there is still a sense of disbelief as this doesn’t feel real. I had been so used to heartbreak and disappointment that it somewhat became an annual tradition with the teams of D.C. Alas, I can finally see my hometown revel in this great accomplishment and I can let out a huge sigh of relief.
Washington D.C. is truly a great town and if you were born there, the city will always mean something to you. The people of the city are one of the best as they are absolutely dedicated to almost everything about what defines D.C. The sports teams reflect what the citizens are like as we are incredibly passionate individuals. If any city deserves a championship, it’s our Nation’s Capital. However, the team that ended the drought is the one who has given the most heartbreak to the city, the Capitals.
The Capitals have just seemingly never been able to get over the hump and it never seemed like they ever would. The franchise started in 1974 and they embodied the definitions of underperformance, disappointment, and failure. Even when it seemed so promising, the same result would always come out.
In the first round of this year’s playoffs, the Capitals found themselves immediately in an 0-2 hole to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Admit it, if you’re from D.C. the first thing that came to mind was “Here we go again.” However, they came back to win four straight games to advance to the second round where they would have to, once again, face the dreaded Pittsburgh Penguins for a third straight season. This is where a parallel with the 2004 Boston Red Sox came in as they had to beat a team, an arch-rival, a franchise that had been a thorn in their side, the New York Yankees, in their run for a championship. The Penguins are the Yankees in this parallel. While the way each team advanced was different as the Red Sox came back from a 0-3 deficit, there is a lot of similarity. The Capitals seemed to be playing a lot different hockey in this series where you almost didn’t want to be optimistic, but couldn’t help and think that they might actually pull this off. And they did. In the conference championship against the Tampa Bay Lightning was incredible as it went to a seventh game. Game Seven’s had always been a bad omen to the Capitals, but yet they won it and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final to face the Vegas Golden Knights. And then my final parallel is the 2005 Chicago White Sox, who were a championship starved team (88 years) where they made the World Series for the first time in a long time and then faced a franchise making their first appearance in the championship round in their history, the Houston Astros. The Capitals were about to take on the Vegas Golden Knights who were not only making the Stanley Cup Final, but had done so in their inaugural season. While the White Sox swept, both them and the Capitals won all their games convincingly (Capitals losing only one), but I could not help myself and point out another parallel there too. The game in which both teams clinched the series, on the road, in a hostile environment, it was a close one as both teams were not seemingly going to give the other one an inch to spare with and they both won late in their games in dramatic fashion (they also won with a point/run lead).
Before the third period started, I texted my friend Angie, whom I’ve talked about in another article, and explained to her the same parallel with the 2005 White Sox. One thing in my text that I think was incredibly comforting was when I said to her “The Caps are going to win this.” I knew it was nerve racking, heck, I was a hot mess in that third period, but I almost got a sense like this was destiny. It would have seemed too cruel to let the Golden Knights win that game and then went on to win the series. This year had felt different even though I didn’t want to say it. Once the clock struck 0.0, so many emotions were let out. Yes, I did indeed cry. For the city that I will always call my hometown, I finally was able to see my city win a championship. I am 28 years old and I have never seen any sort of success in sports with my hometown. I may have a favorite team in two sports that aren’t from D.C. (White Sox and Blackhawks), but that never meant I wasn’t a fan of D.C. teams. I always was a fan of D.C. teams as well. There’s something special about D.C. that I couldn’t just not care about them. This had a special meaning to me unlike the teams that I cheer on for in other cities. However, it also meant more that I was able to see my friends enjoy the moment too. I may have also been watching the game from where I live now in Cincinnati, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to enjoy it. Heck, I partied until the wee hours of the morning celebrating calling and texting everyone I knew that were watching the game.
The curse is over. The drought is over. We can finally exhale. All those painful memories now all seem like a distant past, but this right now just doesn’t feel real even though it is. All of those heartbreaking moments with the Wizards, Redskins, and Nationals are now forgotten and this championship is also for those teams. While I will not be able to attend the championship parade, you better believe I’ll be tuning in. Of all the teams in the area, the Capitals should have been the ones to win this. Alex Ovechkin, the greatest player in this generation, finally has a championship, which is another incredible story in itself. I never knew the feeling of what a championship is like in my hometown and now this is what it’s like. I have linked some videos below that capture the incredible ride that will help explain how awesome this feeling is. I think John Walton’s call once the Capitals won help describe the moment: “IT’S NOT A DREAM! IT’S NOT A DESERT MIRAGE!”
Washington, D.C. you finally have your championship and I’m proud to call myself a native of the 202 area code. It really wasn’t a dream, it was reality. We all can sleep easily now as we know longer have to hear about a stupid curse anymore. This will be one incredible feeling we all will never forget.
Lars Eller game winner
The moment D.C. sports saw their first championship since 1991
How D.C. fans reacted to winning the Stanley Cup
And this video below captures how great this moment was