WASHINGTON (AP) — Nicklas Backstrom dreamed in regards to the street much less traveled.
Driving down Constitution Avenue on his means to every dwelling recreation since his NHL debut in 2007, he imagined the road lined with overjoyed Washington Capitals fans.
”It at all times popped up in my head that one time we’re going to have a parade right here, and at last that day is right here,” Backstrom mentioned.
It all turns into actuality Tuesday when Backstrom and the Stanley Cup-champion Capitals give town its first parade for a main professional sports group for the reason that NFL’s Redskins in 1992. The parade is 26 years within the making for Washington sports fans who endured lengthy, lean years of heartbreak.
”I do not assume anybody doubted what this metropolis would do,” longtime Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman mentioned. ”It’s simply a matter of getting there and being able to do it. They positively held up their finish of the discount.”
Tens of 1000’s gathered for viewing events of street playoff video games on the best way to the Capitals’ first championship since starting play in 1974. They camped out on the streets to watch on large video screens – the sorts of scenes extra germane to presidential inaugurations on this city than sporting occasions.
”I believed it was actually cool once we had been even at dwelling and everybody was exterior and going nuts and they might present that proper after we might rating a aim,” defenseman John Carlson mentioned. ”I believe that was in all probability one of many coolest moments of the playoffs for me and simply seeing the help. … I believe we deserve it, and so do the fans.”
It has been a very long time coming. Since the Redskins gained the Super Bowl in January 1992, the 1998 Capitals had been the one Washington group within the NHL, NBA, NFL or Major League Baseball to attain a league semifinal till this spring, a drought of 74 mixed seasons with out a championship.
When the Capitals took the Cup into the Nationals’ clubhouse on Saturday, coach Barry Trotz needed gamers to know: ”There’s no curse or something. It’s all gone.” All that they had to do to know that was look across the previous two months to see the doubt being chipped away.
Nationals supervisor Davey Martinez, who texted with Trotz all through the run, acquired his first actual style of Washington sports within the playoffs with the Chicago Cubs final 12 months when he got here out of the dugout seeing 50,000 fans in crimson and could not hear himself assume as a result of it was so loud.
”Right then and there I mentioned, ‘Hey, these folks, they’re in, they adore it,”’ Martinez recalled. ”This is thrilling. And town then rallied this 12 months across the Caps. I get it. It was superior. It was good for town. Good for us. I do know our boys had been all in, they had been enthusiastic about every thing. I instructed them yesterday, ‘Let’s simply preserve it rolling. The metropolis’s all-in.”’
Washington is not a metropolis accustomed to being all-in due to the scars of so many playoff failures through the years. Longtime Capitals season-ticket holder Jimmy Patterson mentioned fans turned reluctant to get collectively to watch video games as a result of the temper on the finish of the evening wasn’t one thing anybody needed to endure in a group setting.
That’s a part of what made the general public gatherings for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference remaining and all through the Stanley Cup Final so outstanding. Exorcising franchise-long demons by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins within the second spherical appeared to free fans to truly get pleasure from themselves.
”It confirmed what they had been able to and reveals should you get to that degree, they are going to match it and even step it up a little bit greater than the precise gamers,” Zimmerman mentioned.
Fans celebrating the Capitals beating the Penguins led ESPN’s Michael Wilbon – a former Washington Post columnist – to name D.C. a ”minor league sports city.” It’s not the primary knock on Washington, although 14 years of enjoying baseball within the metropolis has given Zimmerman some readability on explaining that it is not Boston, Chicago, New York or Philadelphia, and he does not assume it has to be.
”This is such an fascinating metropolis as a result of not many individuals are from right here, so it is onerous to be a Boston or a Chicago,” Zimmerman mentioned. ”That’s a generational sports city. So it is nothing towards (Washington). They should not be like that. They don’t have any cause to be like that.
”Numerous these folks transfer right here for work of their early to mid-20s or come right here even later than that they usually undertake a group. This is what occurs these days: Everyone compares every thing. Just let or not it’s. Let or not it’s what it’s. We have nice fans and clearly should you make the playoffs and get to a Stanley Cup finals, you could have actually nice fans identical to any metropolis would.”
Thousands of fans are anticipated to watch the parade, from 17th to seventh on Constitution. Trotz has been interested by one thing like this since he arrived in 2014.
”You begin interested by, ‘Well, what wouldn’t it imply?’ after which you concentrate on a potential parade on some of the well-known streets in all of the world, actually, and it is form of now coming into play,” Trotz mentioned. ”It’s going to come true.”
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