The Capitals advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs drains the swamp of despair that has plagued Washington, D.C. sports fan for two decades.
With their 2-1 overtime victory in Game 6 of their playoff series against the Penguins, the Capitals became the first Washington, D.C. major professional sports team to advance to the conference finals since 1998.
To put in perspective how long this drought lasted we look back at how different the sports landscape was on May 23, 1998, when the Capitals opened up Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Dominik Hasek and the Buffalo Sabres.
D.C. PLAYOFF DROUGHT: A LOOK BACK AT 1998
— The Capitals began the 1997-98 season playing home games at US Airways Arena in Landover, MD, and finished the season playing home games at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C.
— Future Capitals Head Coaches Dale Hunter & Adam Oates were on the Washington Capitals roster.
— NHL had only 26 teams (The Predators, Jets, Golden Knights, Blue Jackets, and Wild have been added since).
— Atlanta Thrashers, which now play in Winnipeg, didn’t yet exist.
— The Nationals were still roughly 7 years away from being a franchise.
— The Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays were only one month into their inaugural seasons.
— The Montreal Expos starting left fielder was FP Santangelo. FP Santangelo now does color-commentary for the Nationals.
— Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr, and Randy Johnson were still Seattle Mariners.
— Ichiro Suzuki was a member of the Orix Blue Wave in Osaka, Japan.
— Bartolo Colon was starting just his second full MLB season with the Cleveland Indians.
— Redskins were owned by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and played at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, which had opened less than a year prior.
— Redskins had no 1st round pick and selected Tight End Stephen Alexander from Oklahoma at No. 48 in the second round of the1998 NFL Draft.
— The most recent Redskins game had been started by Jeff Hostetler.
— There were 30 teams in the NFL split into 6 divisions. The Seahawks were still in the AFC and the Cardinals were division rivals with the Redskins.
— The Baltimore Ravens had amassed a 10-21-1- in its first two NFL seasons. The Cleveland Browns did not exist.
— Peyton Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, had yet to take an NFL snap.
— NFL icons John Elway and Dan Marino were still playing for the Broncos and Dolphins, respectively.
— Washington's basketball franchise finished its first season known as the "Wizards" instead of the "Bullets."
— MCI Center was less than six months old.
— NBA on TNT color commentator Chris Webber and Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard were the Wizards leading scorers.
— Michael Jordan and the Bulls were vying for their sixth NBA Championship.
— The NBA was made up of 29 teams in four divisions.
— The original Charlotte Hornets existed with no team yet in New Orleans.
— Seattle SuperSonics comfortably existed with a 61-21 record. There was no team yet in Oklahoma City.
— The Vancouver Grizzlies were still a thing and had not yet relocated to Memphis.
— Markelle Fultz still 6 days away from being born in Upper Marlboro, MD.
— John Thompson, Jr. was still the head basketball coach at Georgetown.
— Ralph Friedgen was still almost three years away from being named head football coach at Maryland.
— DC United was in just its second year of MLS existence and had not yet won the first of four consecutive MLS titles.
— Tiger Woods had only won one major championship.
— The Bowl Championship Series had yet to exist.
MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:
- Streak Over: D.C. finally breaks through
- Celly Time: Fans react to Kuzy's goal
- 4 Reasons Why: Game 6 win wasn't easy
- Power Ranks: Updated Standings
- Series Anatomy: Dissecting Caps-Pens
CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST: GAME 6