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Capitals fan follows through, names newborn son after Lord Stanley's Cup

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals fan follows through, names newborn son after Lord Stanley's Cup

The Capitals' Stanley Cup championship celebration is unlikely to ever be topped.

The franchise's first-ever championship and the city's first title in over 25 years was cause for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

Those who watched or attended the championship parade will never forget that beautifully raucous June 12 afternoon.

One of the parade's most memorable moments included a female Capitals fan holding a sign stating she would be naming her soon-to-be-born son Stanley. But it wasn't just any Caps fan, but the sister of NBC Sports Washington's very own Ryan Billie, who produces Caps Pregame and Postgame Live, and can be heard on the Capitals Talk Podcast.

On Thursday, Aileen delivered on her promise, delivering a handsome son, named Mateo Stanley.

When the Capitals trailed the Blue Jackets two games to none in the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Alex Ovechkin said his team would return home with a 2-2 series tie, and that's what the Caps did.

When Ovechkin proclaimed that the Capitals "will not be suck" before the start of the season, the team backed it up, winning the Stanley Cup.

And when a Caps fan says she will name her son after the Stanley Cup, that's exactly what she does.

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Ted Leonsis on what a Stanley Cup means for Washington

Ted Leonsis on what a Stanley Cup means for Washington

When the Capitals finally won the Stanley Cup, there was perhaps only one person whose excitement could match that of Alex Ovechkin. That was the man ultimately responsible for putting it all together, Ted Leonsis.

Leonsis, the majority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, bought the Capitals in 1999. He has since seen this team rise from the low years of the rebuild and two lockouts all the way to the very top, becoming Stanley Cup Champions.

I got the opportunity to speak with him 1-on-1 before the Capitals' season-opening win over the Bruins on a variety of topics from the Cup celebration to Alex Ovechkin’s legacy.

Here is Part 1 of that conversation.

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF THE INTERVIEW

What has this summer been like for you with the celebration?

Well, there hasn't been much of an offseason and it's been a lot of work and a lot of self-reflection and much joy.

But now that's being drained out of the equation because it's dawned on everyone that we get our rings this week, we put up the banner tonight and then it's next season. So trying to find that and strike a balance between celebrating and paying homage to the past and then being focused on making the playoffs and then trying to repeat is a tall order.

Since the franchise's inception, the Capitals have always had to fight for their place in this city. What does a championship do for the franchise and for hockey in Washington, D.C.?

I believe we have cemented and reinforced our relationship with a whole new generation of fans.

I think the parade, when you see that many people that committed and how young they were, that this is their touch point. For their life, they'll talk about what happened, they were there when the Caps won the Stanley Cup.

I really saw this on Sunday at our last preseason game. I had so many people come up to me and say this is my son or my daughter's first hockey game and that they were dressed to the nines in Caps gear and they basically became gigantic for life Caps fans last year. They shared in this communal thing. They were given permission to be Caps fans for life.

I'm convinced that we have grabbed the generation of fans and then recommitted to the people that were fans and the fanbase that we had built over the last decade or so. We have a big, big fan base now and we have this responsibility to continue to invest and make sure that the team is great.

A lot was made of the team’s celebration over the summer. As the owner of the team, what was your reaction to how they celebrated?

I bet you that this was calm compared to some other celebrations, it's just we live in the world now of social media and everything can be seen and shared.

If you just look at everyone's day with the Cup, bringing it to hospitals, bringing it to the newsroom in Annapolis, the list goes on and on.

I think the first few days after we won the Cup was very populous, let's share it, have a shared experience with the fans. But I think the players were incredibly respectful just watching them the other night, seeing their name carved on the Stanley Cup was a very, very meaningful moment. They understand the place in history that the Stanley Cup has and their name is on it and the names of some of the players that went off the Cup was amazing to make room for them. It's just the way it goes and their name now will be on that Cup for 65 years.

What was it like when you saw your name engraved on the Cup?

I was unbelievably humbled. One because you just know there's a permanence there and two, I just look back at when I bought the team, we weren't a 'have' team. We built a new practice facility, we have a new AHL group, we are able to attract and keep great players. When Alex signed his long-term deal then Nick Backstrom said he'd sign his long-term deal.

The other day I'm watching TV and is it Bryce Harper's last game? Bryce Harper's like Alex Ovechkin and I go no Bryce! Look at what Alex did. He didn't make the drama. He said 'no this is where I want to be, this is where I want to grow up, I want other great players to know you can win a championship here in Washington.'

We didn't have any of that drama. Our drama was having the best record in the league during the regular season with great generationally gifted players, but we couldn't get through the second round.

Now that we have and we have a Stanley Cup, I was telling people we've won in the last decade three Presidents' Trophies and we were embarrassed to talk about Presidents' Trophies and now people write they had the best record in the last decade and they won three Presidents' Trophies and a Stanley Cup. All of a sudden they have meaning and they're valuable.

Winning the Stanley Cup was a momentous thing for our community, for our players, for our franchise and we understand its importance and I think that's why the players have rallied and said let's try to do it again.

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Capitals Top 5: Ranking the best plays from the Stanley Cup run

Capitals Top 5: Ranking the best plays from the Stanley Cup run

 As the Capitals prepare for the 2018-19 season, it’s time to take one last look at the magical Stanley Cup run and the five plays that made it so special.

Today’s countdown: The top 5 plays from the Capitals Cup run

TOP 5 PLAYS FROM CAPITALS STANLEY CUP RUN 

5. Lars Eller scores in double OT in against Columbus

Every magical moment from the playoffs would not have been possible if not for Eller’s overtime goal against Columbus. Down 0-2 in the series, the Caps were facing an 0-3 hole as Game 3 went to overtime.

An 0-3 hole would have essentially been the end of the series. They were not going to climb back into that series. But then everything changed.

Eller scored one of the ugliest goals you’ll ever see, but it was a pretty sight to Caps fans. They would not lose again in that series. It is not an exaggeration to say this was the goal that saved the season.

4. Alex Ovechkin bats puck out of the air for late Game 3-winner against Pittsburgh

Game 3 against the Penguins looked like it was headed to overtime with the score tied at 3 late in the third period until Nicklas Backstrom broke the puck out of the defensive zone.

Backstrom was joined by Ovechkin on a 2-on-1 and fed the Caps’ captain right on the doorstep of Matt Murray.

Murray made the first save, but with the puck dangling in midair, Ovechkin whacked it in for the game-winner with just 1:07 left to go to silence the Pittsburgh crowd.

3. Evgeny Kuznetsov finishes off Pittsburgh in OT

I know, No. 3 seems low for the moment Washington finally got the Pittsburgh monkey off their backs, but that’s how epic the playoff run was.

The Caps stood one goal away from finishing off the Penguins or heading back home to face a Game 7. A Pittsburgh turnover led to a rush in the other direction with Ovechkin feeding Kuznetsov for the breakaway.

Kuznetsov tucked the puck through the five-hole of Murray and the celebration was on.

2. The Save

How different could the Stanley Cup Final have been without this save from Holtby?

Down 0-1 in the series, but up by a goal late in Game 2, Holtby made the incredible stick save on Alex Tuch to preserve the lead and the win for Washington.

It’s now known as “The Save” and will go down as the greatest save in franchise history and one of the great saves all time in hockey.

1. Lars Eller’s Cup-clinching goal

Eller scored the goal that saved the season and he scored the goal that finished it.

As the puck squeaked past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Eller pounced and put it in the net for what would be the Stanley Cup-clinching goal. It is the biggest goal in the history of the franchise and one that will forever cement the Tiger in Capitals history. 

Marc-Andre Fleury, Eller pounced and put it in the net for what would be the Stanley Cup-clinching goal. It is the biggest goal in the history of the franchise and one that will forever cement the Tiger in Capitals history.

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