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The Team That Couldn’t Do It, Did It: Washington Capitals Win Stanley Cup

The Washington Capitals have won the 2018 Stanley Cup.

The team that couldn’t get it done, got it done. The numerous time Presidents Trophy Winners who always found themselves the letdown team of the season, didn’t let their fans down. The arguably best goal scorer in the history of hockey, and who would have had his legacy questioned forever, will have it questioned no longer. Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals have won the 2018 Stanley Cup and answered every question they could never answer until Thursday, June 7, 2018.

It took four decades, but with a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Caps won their first ever tour around the ice with Lord Stanley and first cup in franchise history. No longer playoff underachievers, they ousted the NHL Expansion Golden Knights who were the Cinderella story of the NHL; frankly the biggest Cinderella team in sports history.

The series felt like it was one player versus a new club and a new city. In this case, the player won. That said, don’t expect Ovechkin to look at it that way. Ovechkin — the Conn Smythe Trophy Winner — may have won the prize for being the best player in the Finals but he’ll never admit this was about him. It was about the Capitals organization, his teammates and proving everyone wrong. It was time his team took that final step and he was simply there to lead by example. Nick Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Braden Holtby, Devante Smith-Pelley, Lars Eller, TJ Oshie, John Carlson and others contributed when it mattered most.

While the team wouldn’t have won without Ovechkin, this was a true team effort.

This Was Different

Perhaps it gets said about every win for every team who takes home the big prize, but there was something special in the air for the Capitals. Those on the ice — especially those who’d won or seen teams win it all before — after the team had finally overcome their playoff demons said they’d never seen a team so emotional. Players, coaches, executives were crying tears of joy. And when they thought they were done, they’d take one look at a teammate and start crying again. It was literally a team who hit the Jackpot in Vegas. This championship win was the first for the city of Washington since 1991. At that time, it was the Redskins who defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. 27 years was a long time to wait and the emotion simply poured out.

This series was also unique in that the team beat an opponent who on paper, shouldn’t have been there. No one expected the Golden Knights to make the playoffs, let alone make it through playoff series after playoff series. Yet, here they were, the newest team in sports facing a club who should have been in this position multiple times but simply couldn’t get the job done.

What Comes Next?

While the Capitals will simply enjoy this big win, it won’t take long to start asking, what comes next?

For the Capitals, it will be about their head coach and their star defenseman. For the Vegas Golden Knights, it will be about operating like every other team in the NHL has had to for years. No longer the new kids on the block, they’ll have to decide who to keep and who to hand out big money to. All the ingredients were right for the Knights this season. That will likely never be the case again.

Head coach Barry Trotz now becomes arguably the biggest free agent this summer; odd when you consider he’s not a player. But, there are many NHL teams looking for a coach and Trotz will be able to name his price as the bench boss who led his team to the Stanley Cup and no longer has a contract. He’s got 762 wins to his name, a pair of Presidents’ Trophies, a now the final prize.

The Golden Knights have nearly a dozen free agents, many of them big names. It won’t be long before management has to get down to business.

For now, congratulations go out to both teams. To the Vegas Golden Knights for making farther than anyone thought they would. And, to the Washington Capitals, the team who finally did what many believed they’d never do.

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