marrow transplants. So, for sure, this Stanley Cup title is a gift that will keep on giving.
Despite the Saturday frat hi-jinks and drunken foolishness in the fountains of squares in Washington, D.C., I fell in love with these players on and off the ice. They were certainly all business on the ice when they needed to be and answered every challenge in the most impressive fashion.
For the record, I don’t know anyone on the ice for the team at all. I’ve never had a personal conversation with any of the players.
I know Trotz very well but the rest of these younger men are guys I ask questions to a few times a year after games. But I watched all of them closely over the past six weeks as I traversed the country following a team that I always kinda believed was special. (That’s why I held flights for the finals weeks ago and was ready for every twist at the end of May!)
There was a character element and an integrity in what they were doing that I admired every night. I talked a lot about it on the radio and on social media in April and May. And there was a calm – in Trotz, in Holtby, in troubled spots, when they were down, when they were behind in games and mojo and health, this team rallied like a Stanley Cup champion.
So in the end, my pal Trotz was without a NHL coaching contract but not without a Stanley Cup.
On the way out of T-Mobile Arena after watching Ovechkin cart the chalice into the locker room, I walked out onto the plaza and through the same New York, New York casino that I sat in Vegas watching Dallas and Buffalo play in the Stanley Cup final. It was Game 6 on June 19, 1999 and it was an epic 3OT thriller. To think that two decades later, I’d be 100 yards away watching my friend Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals skate the Holy Grail is all but inconceivable. And to see Tony Robbins sitting on the bench waiting for Ovechkin to roll by with the chalice for a champagne shower is randomly miraculous.
Watching Ovechkin go nuts with the Stanley Cup this weekend was something special. In the era of social media, every crazy fiasco was captured with rapture and joy. It makes grown men cry. It made me cry as I made my way down onto the ice.
Steve Levy of ESPN looked emotional in the postgame in speaking of the respect for Barry Trotz and these men. He said, “This one feels different.”
I don’t know. I’ve never really been associated in that way with anyone who has won the Stanley Cup before now so I’ll take his word for it.
I ran into people like Thomas Boswell underneath the arena on Wednesday night and they had extra emotion for all of it because it’s so…freaking…hard…to…do. Winning.
It took Barry Trotz 30 years to become an overnight sensation.
And his success shared was my ultimate reward for a life of loving hockey in an unlikely media market and staying pals with my hockey friend from Manitoba. For the tiny hockey community in Baltimore, it was one little victory for the little guy who still makes time for Skipjacks friends all these years later. The first professional coaching job he ever had was in Baltimore. I was the beat writer. And my friend of nearly 30 years won the Stanley Cup on Thursday night in Las Vegas. He allowed us to come along for the ride and have some fun and act like fools in the aftermath.
That’s what hockey guys do…
I won’t be diving into public fountains with the Cup when it comes to Baltimore. (OK, well maybe I will?) But at this point in my life to have had a night in Las Vegas celebrating a Capitals Stanley Cup in a room full of champions was as good as it gets.
And I’ve done some really crazy incredible things on this planet in the sports world.
I just don’t know how I top that one…
The only thing left on my bucket list is fixing the Baltimore Orioles right after I get Trotz to bring that Stanley Cup up to Baltimore and filling it with the champagne of our mutual friend Tom Ebright, whose wife was from Dundalk.
I’ll start that project later in the week…
The #DearOrioles series is coming soon…
And the Stanley Cup is coming to Baltimore. There’s nothing that’s gonna screw up my summer after what happened in Las Vegas last Thursday night.