LAS VEGAS — Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said the tens of thousands of fans who partied in the streets of Washington, D.C., late into Thursday night, celebrating the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, were an indication that their championship parade is going to be considerably larger than anticipated.
“I think it’s going to be much bigger than everyone is expecting,” Leonsis said on the ice after the Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 to win the Stanley Cup. “We want to be able to say thank you to people in Virginia and Maryland and Washington, D.C. My goal is to create something that elevates and unites all of the people in our community, so people think happy thoughts about Washington, D.C.”
The Capitals have been careful to avoid talk of planning a parade, even as they entered an elimination game against Vegas. But with the Cup secured, the party planning begins.
The trick for the team and the NHL will be the city and federal permits necessary for such a massive celebration. Speculation has run from the Capitals holding the celebration in the streets around Capitals One Arena or at RFK Stadium or on the National Mall, which Leonsis wouldn’t eliminate as a possibility.
“To be honest, the next couple of weeks are going to be all about the fans, all about the city, all about the players,” he said. “The amount of respect that the Stanley Cup has … there’s nothing like it in any others sport. We have a lot of work to do. We’ll try to make it very, very family oriented. To make sure it’s not just the players, but it’s the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters.”
On Thursday night, Capitals fans celebrated en masse as their team captured the Cup in Vegas.
As police officers blocked F Street and announcements were made about the last subway train, many fans ignored those pleas and kept partying on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery and in bars surrounding the rink. A couple of fans climbed light poles and one even scaled the nearby dragon tower.
The championship is the first by a Washington professional sports team in the NFL, NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball since the Redskins won the Super Bowl on Jan. 26, 1992.
“I’ve always said that we have the best hockey fans in the world,” Leonsis said. “All I ever wanted to do was build a team that was as good as the fan base. We can finally say: Best fans in the world, best hockey team in the world.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.