It was a glorious year, but it is now officially over. The Capitals are the defending champions no longer. The St. Louis Blues rode two first period goals to a 4-1 Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday to claim the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
Caps fans knew this day was coming for several weeks after Washington’s first-round exit, but it still stings nonetheless now that you can no longer call them the champs.
For all those fans out there who may need a lift after seeing the Cup handed over to the Blues on Wednesday, don’t be sad. Here are seven reasons why you should be glad it was the Blues.
This is the Blues’ first Stanley Cup
For all the St. Louis fans out there who despaired, for all the fans who thought it was never going to happen, for all the fans who stuck with the team despite all the gaffes and low points, all the playoff losses and even the Ken Hitchcock/Mike Yeo experiment, this is your moment. Caps fans were there last year. When your faith as a sports fan finally gets rewarded, it is an amazing experience. More than the joy you feel is the sense of relief.
The Blues are no longer on that list of teams without a championship with hapless franchises like the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Clippers. St. Louis will forever be the 2019 champions.
St. Louis had to wait even longer than Washington for the Cup
The Caps took to the ice for the first time in 1974. The team did not go all the way until 2018. That is a wait of 44 years to see the Cup coming to Washington. The first season for the Blues came in 1967 making this a championship 52 years in the making. That is the longest any team in the NHL has had to wait for its first championship.
When the Blues first entered the league, they were grouped into a division with all the other expansion teams because of the NHL’s bafflingly stupid division alignment. The result was that they made the Stanley Cup Final the first three years of their existence and were swept in all three series. They had not even reached the Stanley Cup Final since then. Of the five other expansion teams in their division, the Blues are the only team still in existence that had not won a Cup. The only other team that did not was the Oakland Seals.
Not only did the Blues have to wait longer than the Caps for their first title, they haven’t even been back to the final since 1970. Even with all their playoff struggles, Washington made it to the final in 1998. St. Louis didn’t even get that.
This helps ease the pain of losing the Rams
The Caps’ season is over which stinks, but fans can now watch the Nationals. When the fall rolls around there will be the Redskins and the Wizards in addition to the Caps. In terms of the big four (NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA) all St. Louis has are the Cardinals and the Blues. The city had two NBA teams, but the Bombers ceased operations in 1950 and the Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968. The sting of losing those teams has probably worn off by now. You cannot say the same about the Rams who left for Los Angeles in 2016 and promptly made the Super Bowl in the 2018 season.
That stinks. A Stanley Cup championship should definitely help ease that pain.
Former Caps Craig Berube and Zach Sanford get a ring
A lot of Caps fans out there were cheering for former Cap Marcus Johansson to win the Cup. He did not, but two other former Caps did.
Head coach Craig Berube played 419 games with the Caps and compiled 1,220 penalty minutes during that stretch. Zach Sanford, who scored the Blues’ final goal of Game 7 and proved to be an important player in the Final for St. Louis, played only 26 games with the Caps as a rookie in the 2016-17 season.
Some fans may be bitter about Sanford considering the Caps sent him to St. Louis as part of the Kevin Shattenkirk deal. Watching a player like him have success on a championship team while Shattenkirk is no longer a Cap stinks. Considering that the Caps got T.J. Oshie from the Blues for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley (who they got back) and a third round pick, I think Caps fans can let this one go.
At least it wasn’t Boston
Since 2000, the Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have combined for 12 championships. The Patriots and Red Sox both won the most recent Super Bowl and World Series. No one wanted to see Boston win again. Sure, the Bruins accounted for only one of those 12 championships, but still. You guys have won enough. Time for someone else.
Take that, Marchand!
The NHL season began with Brad Marchand fighting an unwilling Lars Eller in Washington’s season-opener. Eller wanted a rematch in Boston, but suddenly Marchand became a pacifist and refused to drop the gloves. To make matters worse, he also threw shade at Eller afterward saying, “I don’t really feel the need to try to prove anything. [Eller] plays, you know, maybe 10, 12 minutes a night and I’m playing 20. So in a 1-0 game, to go on the power play, it doesn't make a lot of sense so that’s the way it is.”
Well, now that 10-minute a night player still has as many Stanley Cup rings as you do.
When one team is celebrating a Cup, the other must wait patiently and watch so they can shake hands afterward. You cannot help but feel for the team that loses in that moment. But not for Marchand. There probably are not many people who felt sorry for him as he watched the Blues crush his hopes for another Cup.
The Blues are one heck of a story
As a writer, I often cheer for a good story and there may have been no better story in the league this season than the Blues. St. Louis was dead last in the NHL standings on Jan. 3 before they finally turned things around. Berube became coach after a midseason coaching change. Jordan Binnington took over in net midway through the season. The Blues literally tried to send him to the ECHL last season, but he refused to go and they had to loan him to the Providence Bruins. Now he is a Stanley Cup champion.
Plus, there was the story of Laila Anderson, an 11-year-old girl battling an immune disease who has become the team’s biggest mascot through this postseason run. Her story was incredibly moving throughout the playoffs and the Blues even flew her out to Boston for Game 7. Wednesday must have been one heck of a night for her and she certainly deserved it. Who could root against that?
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