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Tom Wilson brings the Stanley Cup home for an emotional day in Toronto

Tom Wilson brings the Stanley Cup home for an emotional day in Toronto

TORONTO—Tom Wilson and the Stanley Cup made a number of stops on their tour of Toronto on Sunday, but there was never any doubting where the rugged Caps winger would take the trophy first.

The first stop, of course, was North Toronto Memorial Arena, the rink where it all started.

Wilson, who learned to play and love the game here as a 5-year-old, entered the charming old building to a standing ovation from the program’s current players, friends, family—including three generations of Wilsons—as well as a handful of former coaches and players.

For the Caps’ toughest player, it was just the beginning of an occasionally emotional day in his hometown.

Over the next three-plus hours, Wilson mingled, reconnected, posed for pictures with each of the youth teams, took a lap in the stands with the Cup and conducted an unintentionally hilarious Q & A with the youth players.

Before he started fielding questions, Wilson jokingly requested that the kids only ask softballs. The second kid who stepped to the mic musta missed the memo...much to the delight of everyone in the building.

“Why do you like fighting?” a boy asked Wilson, who had 13 fights last year, the second highest total in the NHL.

Wilson was ready with a quick answer.

“Just so everyone knows, I don’t think I got into one fight when I played for North Toronto,” he cracked. “Keep the gloves on. Play hockey. …You know what, I’ve just always been big on sticking up for my teammates. It’s part of the game still. It’s a five minute penalty and sometimes you gotta do it.”

Wilson also acknowledged that, as a youngster, he owned a black and gold Alex Ovechkin jersey and was a big fan of No. 8. While not exactly breaking news, it was something I hadn’t heard before.

Hundreds of kids attended, but just one was a special guest of Wilson’s: Brock from The Hospital for Sick Children, who overcame significant health issues thanks to the treatment he received at the world-renowned medical center. Sunday’s event benefitted the hospital’s SickKids Foundation.

Midway through the program, Toronto Mayor John Tory stopped by to congratulate Wilson. Tory also played his youth hockey at North Toronto Arena. After thanking Wilson for bringing the Cup home and partnering with the hospital for the event, Tory had some jokes.

“Did you actually play in this arena?” Tory asked Wilson, who nodded. “Well, I want you to know, so did I, which is why I’ve got the North Toronto jersey on. The only thing is, my career went terribly wrong somewhere and I ended up as the mayor of Toronto and you ended up on the Stanley Cup champions. So congratulations to you.”

Geoff Campbell, one of Wilson’s first coaches, said he’s never been surprised by the success Wilson has enjoyed as he’s moved up the ranks from AA to AA to junior to the NHL and now to world champion. That insatiable drive to be the best, according to Campbell, came built-in.

Wilson said the most humbling part of his day at NT Arena was seeing his poster on the wall, right next to the one honoring Hall of Famer Eric Lindros, who also grew up playing at the single-sheet facility.

Pete Wilson, Tom’s older brother, said he got choked up a couple of times watching Sunday’s event unfold just a few blocks from the family home.

“Seeing that banner up there, and seeing the community come out and support this event and support SickKids, it’s just so surreal,” he said. “I found myself getting choked up a couple of times because this was such a staple in our lives. I mean, we were here ALL the time. All three kids came through here. My dad coached here. My mom even coached here way back.”

As hectic as the day was at times, Tom Wilson did get a little alone time with the Cup, which he spent asking questions about its storied history.

After the celebration at North Toronto Arena, Wilson took the Cup down to the scenic Ontario Place marina, where he posed for the day’s most memorable photo.

Wilson’s unforgettable day didn’t end on the pier. But that photo did signal the end of what Wilson wanted to share with reporters.

Winning the championship marked the realization of a childhood dream, and now it was time for some private time with family and his closest friends, many of whom also donned white t-shirts emblazoned with, “We did it!”

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How to watch Capitals vs. Avalanche: Time, TV channel, live stream

How to watch Capitals vs. Avalanche: Time, TV channel, live stream

The Washington Capitals bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Nashville Predators, where they gave up four leads in a 6-5 contest, with a commanding 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night to end a three-game losing skid. Now, they welcome the Colarado Avalanche to town Monday night. 

The Avalanche have gotten off to a perfect 4-0 start this season, a record which was preserved in a 3-2 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night. Ex-Capitals left winger Andre Burakovsky netted the game-winner while goaltender Pavel Francouz stopped 34 of 36 shots. 

Washington's John Carlson notched a goal and an assist while Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his second goal of the year in the win against Dallas, while Ilya Samsonov impressed in his second career start in net. He's now stopped 49 of the first 51 shots faced in his young NHL career. The Caps will look for their key contributors to perform against the undefeated visitors.

Here's everything you need to know about Monday evening's game, with the opening face-off coming at 5:00 p.m. live on NBC Sports Washington.  

Capitals vs. Avalanche: How to watch

What: Washington Capitals vs. Colarado Avalanche, Game 7 of the 2019-20 NHL Regular Season

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C. 

When: Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Avalanche game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports channel finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Predators on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

RadioCaps 24/7 Radio

CAPITALS vs. AVALANCHE TV SCHEDULE

4:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live

4:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

5:00 PM: Avalanche @ Capitals Live

7:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

8:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

8:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

Capitals vs. Avalanche Injury Report

Capitals: D Michal Kempny, hamstring injury, day-to-day

Avalanche: C J.T. Compher, lower body, day-to-day; D Ian Cole, hamstring, day-to-day

CAPITALS vs. Avalanche PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Michal Kempny, D, Washington Capitals: The defender could make his season debut as he recovers from a hamstring injury. He felt good after an optional practice on Sunday and said if he doesn't play Monday, he'll be back soon enough. His return will bring a boost to the defensive backline for the Caps. 

John Carlson, D, Washington Capitals (2 G, 8 A, 10 Pts): Carlson has been quite the provider from up top on offense, leading the NHL in assists along with points leader Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Nobody else has more than four assists on the Capitals. 

Andre Burakovsky, LW, Colarado Avalanche (2 G, 2 A, 4 Pts): Burakovsky not only scored the game-winner Saturday night against Arizona, but also nothed an assist and had four shots on goal. After spending his first five seasons in the nation's capital, the Avalanche traded second and third-round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft and forward Scott Kosmachuk for his services in June. 

CAPITALS vs. AVALANCHE SERIES HISTORY 

Number of meetings: 85

All-time series record: Caps lead 44-32-9

Last meeting: Caps won 4-3 (OT) (4/7/19)

Last 10: Caps lead 9-1

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John Carlson reps the Nationals' batting helmet after winning Capitals' 'hard hat' award

John Carlson reps the Nationals' batting helmet after winning Capitals' 'hard hat' award

It's like winning is contagious or something.

Everybody likes to be a part of winning, and that's all the Washington Nationals seem to be able to do lately.

No one has been a bigger supporter of the Nationals' magical postseason run than the Washington Capitals, who have been awarding a Nats' batting helmet to players with standout performances. After a victory on the road in Dallas, John Carlson became the latest Capitals player to don the Curly W.

 

Carlson earned the award after ripping a wrist shot in the second period that put the Caps up 2-0.

He joins rookie defenseman Martin Fehervary and rookie goalkeeper Ilya Samsonov as the team's game-MVPs so far in the season. Fehervary and Samsonov won the helmet after the Capitals' first two victories. 

The award comes at a time when Washington's professional sports teams have rallied around each other. In addition to the hard hat award, the Nationals cheered on the Washington Mystics while flying to St. Louis, as the Mystics won the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.

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