Kissing the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas with Barry Trotz and bringing it to Baltimore

June 10, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio

itself at the most luxurious hotel you can imagine in Vegas. Just family, good food, wet drinks, relief, celebration and smiles, hugs, laughs and plenty of selfies and pictures and revelry amongst the closest people in the lives of the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Every once in a while you’d hear a roar of people howling with The Cup but it wasn’t bawdy by any stretch. It was a conversation party, which is a direct reflection upon owner Ted Leonsis, who believes in the power of connection and open discourse.

It was the perfect setting for a night to remember for anyone in a red sweater who has found the serendipity and awesomeness of the moment.

It was a divine evening as a fan of the Washington Capitals in Las Vegas. One I’ll never forget but one I also never envisioned.

(Well, because I’m a Washington Capitals fan…)

The struggle. The wait. The frustration. The disappointment. The losses and bad beats that every Caps fan has been all-to-familiar with were all extinguished when Lars Eller poked through a Brett Connolly blast that found its way behind Vegas Golden Knights goalie ­– and Washington kryptonite – Marc-Andre Fleury.

I had my chance to lift the Stanley Cup over my head three hours later – and yes, the picture should tell you how surreal it all was – but it’s almost as much of a blur as the past three decades of my very public love of the sport and years of covering the good old hockey game as a Baltimore sports journalist in a town that has a long, sordid history of collectively not giving a flying puck about a sport that has abandoned the Charm City at least five times during my lifetime and hasn’t been seen here in almost 25 years.

The speed. The passion. The nonstop action. The incredible skill, athleticism, eye-hand coordination and raw emotion of the sport has always had me preaching the same refrain over 27 years on the Baltimore airwaves and my eight prior years as the beat reporter for the Baltimore Skipjacks first at The News American from 1984-86 and then at The Evening Sun from 1986-1992: “It’s the best sport in our culture.” It’s the most exciting game – I’m sure of that – but its unique appeal as a journalist/fan comes from the commitment of the men who play it and the eternal quest to be able to lift the same silver trophy and skate it around and have their family name permanently attached to the goblet that sets the standard for which all men who skate have extreme and eternal reverence.

Anyone who knows anything about hockey knows it’s all about winning the Stanley Cup. And lifting it. And skating it. And kissing it. And savoring it. And if you’re Alex Ovechkin, waking up in your bed with it!

If you know my last name, you know I come from a baseball family. My Pop didn’t know a puck from a truck and always considered hockey a Canadian sport. My love of hockey comes quite naturally because no one around me knew or cared much about hockey.

(Well, there was that one weekend in February 1980 but other than that…)

I remember my Pop taking me to a Baltimore Clippers game in 1973 and I brought home a Hershey Bears scorecard and then I wanted to go back to see the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. I put the Clippers schedule on the wall. I treasure those old