The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup on Thursday and the party went non-stop all the way to Tuesday's parade.
One of the best aspects of that party has been the team's genuine desire to share the celebration with the fans. On Tuesday, the Capitals victory parade gave them the opportunity to open up the party to the hundreds of thousands of fans who filled the streets and the National Mall.
"There's a love affair between the city and the players, it's so fantastic," Barry Trotz said to the media.
"It's been a long time since we had a championship here in this city," Nicklas Backstrom said. "To be able to after all these years to bring it, it's great."
The team rode through the streets of Washington with their adoring fans lined en masse on either side throughout the parade route. As the team arrived at the stage on the Mall, a throng of red-clad fans awaited them stretching as far as the eye could see.
"I couldn't see the end of people from the stage," Tom Wilson said. "This is home, this city has made us feel so welcome. It's unbelievable to give back the least we could and just celebrate with them."
The postseason heartbreak of recent years was not just felt by the players. There were many fans who lived and died in the stands and watching from near and far.
But just as the team was able to get over the postseason hump, so was a home crowd that approached every playoff game with a sense to trepidation. The difference in the atmosphere at Capital One Arena after Washington's win over the Pittsburgh Penguins was a noticeable one and the players credited the fans with helping them finish the job and bring home the Cup.
"It takes every piece of the city, it takes every piece of the team," Wilson said. "You don't just win a Stanley Cup. It's the hardest thing maybe in sports to win. Just to see the atmosphere, see everybody out here, and to celebrate with each other because everybody earned it."
"These fans have lived through a lot with us, too," John Carlson said. "We're all in this together."
And that was why Tuesday's parade was so important.
Despite all the years of heartbreak and the team failing to live up to its lofty expectations, the fans kept coming back hoping things would be different. When the team needed that boost from the crowd to help carry them through four grueling rounds of playoff hockey, Washington was there for them helping to push to the team on.
The Stanley Cup will mean a lot to Alex Ovechkin's legacy. It likely saved Trotz's job. It cemented Braden Holtby's place as the team's No. 1 netminder after a difficult season. It validated the oft-criticized Brooks Orpik's place in the lineup. It turned Michal Kempny into a top-four defenseman.
But despite all the individual benefits that come with winning the Cup, the team has never lost sight of the fact that they also won this for the fans and the city they play for.
"It's sort of a life-changing moment for every one of these players and their families and myself and hopefully for the fans who had to endure a lot of time," Trotz said. "We're glad to bring a championship to Washington."
MORE PARADE COVERAGE:
- Chaos: D.C. celebrates the Stanley Cup with one heck of a party
- An American Hero: Oshie chugs beer through shirt (again)
- Not Gonna Suck: Ovi's famous speech
- Best of the Best: Every moment of the parade
- Staying put?: Trotz keeps hinting at a return to Washington