‘Keeper of the Cup’ recounts Capitals’ Stanley Cup celebration


Four years ago Tuesday, the Washington Capitals hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in their then-44 year franchise history.

Phil Pritchard is the famed 'Keeper of the Cup,' the man who maintains the pristine and almost other-worldly status of Lord Stanley. He's seen his fair share of memorable moments between the Cup and players who have won it. Four years after Washington took home the Cup, Pritchard recalls the hours, days and weeks following the legendary moment. It all started the night of the Game 5 win.

“Alex [Ovechkin] said, ‘C’mon, we’re going out on the town!’” Pritchard said. “I remember someone saying something about, you don’t celebrate in visitors’ towns. That’s not a thing you do…Alex said, ‘Las Vegas is a town for everybody.’”

And celebrate they did. Capitals players and coaches walked Sin City with hardware in hand throughout the night and into the next day.

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“We’re walking now in downtown Las Vegas with the Washington Capitals, and Alex Ovechkin has the Cup over his head, walking into the side door of the MGM Grand,” Pritchard said. “You can hear people on the phone going, ‘I think Alex Ovechkin just walked by me with the Stanley Cup.’”


Ovechkin and company were never shy to celebrate their successful climb to the top of the NHL mountaintop—something players and fans alike had hoped for since the Capitals drafted the Great 8 over a decade earlier. Once they got back to the nation’s capital, that’s when the celebrations really started flowing.

Arguably the signature moment, aside from the championship parade that proceeded through the national mall, was the team going celebrating in a fountain on the Georgetown waterfront.

But prior to celebrating throughout the streets of D.C., Ovechkin made a special point to bring Lord Stanley back to his house in the D.C. area. Just after the plane had landed from Las Vegas, Ovechkin took the Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy to his home in the Washington metro area.

“We pulled right into his driveway, the garage door opened up, and his dog came running out to see him. He was so thrilled to see his dog, he put the Cup down,” Pritchard said. “It was so Alex—how much he cared about his family, the importance of what the trophy meant to his family.”

Ovechkin waited over a decade to hoist the Stanley Cup ever since the Capitals drafted him. He earned every bit of the summer-long celebration, as did the team. Ovechkin is as woven into the sports culture of Washington as the Cup is itself.

“I had met Alex over the years, but I began to understand more and more how much of a fan, how much respect he has for this great game of ours,” Pritchard said.