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Two years later, reminiscing on the Capitals' magical Parade Day

Two years later, reminiscing on the Capitals' magical Parade Day

Being in Las Vegas the night the Capitals won the Stanley Cup was a professional high. Broadcasting those moments as the players skated around the ice, Cup overhead, the realization not only of their dreams but the dreams of Caps fans everywhere... that was the best night of my career.

But Parade Day was a close second.

We had to get to our stage very early that morning. You could already feel the excitement in the air. Even before the sun came up. This was going to be a party unlike any this city has seen since the Redskins last Super Bowl title. But that was almost 30 years ago. This had the feel of something different. Something special.

It did not disappoint.

Michael Jenkins & I made friends with a group of fans near our set. Those guys came equipped with airplane sized bottles of many different kinds of liquor. And they were sharing. So we were drinking. Sure, it might have been around 9 am. But it felt like it was 5 o’clock somewhere. So the insanity began.

We had people lined up and down Constitution Ave. We had the parade covered from every angle. When we caught our first glimpse of the Cup, it still felt surreal. This was really happening. In DC. The demons had been exorcised. The black cloud that followed the city’s sports teams had been replaced with a bright sun and it was shining down on everyone. And it felt like everyone was there. The whole city. It was a sea of red for as far as the eye could see.

RELATED: REMEMBERING LORD STANLEY'S JOURNEY AROUND DC

And what better backdrop. The Monument on one end. The Capitol on the other. Delirious Caps fans lined the mall in between. It was amazing.

Nicklas Backstrom said he used to envision a parade down Constitution Ave every time he drove to work. He said the parade far surpassed even his wildest expectations.

When Barry Trotz addressed the crowd, he beautifully paraphrased Martin Luther King. Saying, “We had a dream.” The dream was realized. Yet, it still felt like we were living inside that dream.

Ted Leonsis thanked the fans. And the community. His dream was to unite the city. To have his franchise bring people together. His dream was playing out right in front of his eyes. Not many people get to experience that in a lifetime. You could see in his face how much this meant to him and his family. Which, at that moment, extended to the entire fan base.

RELATED: TWO YEARS LATER, BEST FAN MEMORIES FROM THE STANLEY CUP CELEBRATION

And, of course, Ovi summed it all up when he stopped the music at the end of the parade for one final statement. His reminder to the fans of how far this team had come that season.,

“We’re not gonna be f*****g suck this year!”

That’s a mic drop moment if there ever was one.

For us, it was the culmination of the wildest two-month rides of our lives. Seeing Alan May tear up when they won the Cup. Then seeing him get emotional again when his team was celebrated in his city... that was all worth it.

The parade was over. The party was not.

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Walking through the city was phenomenal. Everyone smiling, everyone enjoying the moment. I high-fived strangers in the street. I shared a drink or two along the way.

We all made our way to Penn Quarter Sports Tavern. Alan arranged for us to have our own personal keg on the top floor. It was packed. Horn Guy & Loud Goat were leading the chants. Somehow, we all ended up doing inverted keg stands to see who could do it the longest. It was being broadcast by Steve Czaban on 980. I know that because some guys stopped me at the end of the night and said they were listening to the play-by-play on the radio. It was all so crazy. It was all so fun.

I’d sign up for another summer like that right now!

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The 2-year anniversary of the Caps' Stanley Cup reminds us why a 2020 run would ultimately be just as sweet

The 2-year anniversary of the Caps' Stanley Cup reminds us why a 2020 run would ultimately be just as sweet

On June 7, 2018, the Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in team history. It was just two years ago. It was two years ago when all the frustration of past playoff failures made this win that much sweeter, two years ago that the championship drought in Washington officially ended, two years ago when fans lined the streets of the city to celebrate.

Now, in 2020, we have the unique perspective of being able to look back at the 2018 run with anticipation for what could happen in 2020. Last year on June 7, the Boston Bruins led the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final. Washington's season was long over at that point as the Caps lost in the first round.

In 2020, however, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed everything back and the playoffs have not yet begun. Now Washington fans can relive those moments from 2018 and hope that this year Washington will have the chance to do it all again.

There are some people who are not happy about that. There are those who argue that the 2019-20 season is now tainted because of the pause to the season and those who look at the NHL's 24-team return to play format and scoff, saying this year's winner will deserve an asterisk. There are valid reasons why you may feel that way. I have argued before why you shouldn't, but this anniversary may be the best argument of all.

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One of the best parts of the 2018 Cup run was knowing that it would live on. Regardless of what happened in the future, whether the team fell apart after the win and the championship window was closed, whether the Alex Ovechkin-led Caps never won the Cup again, the Washington Capitals would always be the 2018 champions. Their names will always be engraved on the Cup and that championship banner will always hang from the rafters of the arena.

In 2018-19, Washington lost in the first round to a team that, on paper, they should have crushed. In 2019-20, the Caps were seriously struggling before the season was paused. It's hard to think the team would have managed to fend off a red-hot Philadelphia Flyers team to hold onto the division lead. But you know what? Two years ago the Caps were still named the Stanley Cup champs. That didn't change! That is the best part of being a champion and it will be true of the 2020 winners as well.

RELATED: CAPITALS GM BRIAN MACLELLAN DOES NOT SEE WHY THE 2020 STANLEY CUP DESERVES AN ASTERISK

You may not like the 2020 playoff format, but at the end of the day, the winners will have their names engraved on the Cup and they will hang a banner from the rafters to commemorate it. Years from now on the anniversary of when that team hoisted the Cup, articles like this one will be written on what it means. The 2020 champions will always be the 2020 champions and nothing can take that away.

So while you celebrate the 2018 Cup run, get excited for the 2020 postseason and save your asterisk. If the Caps take the Cup, that banner will be just as big when its unfurled at Capital One Arena because they will forever be the 2020 Stanley Cup champions.

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NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

The NHL will transition to Phase 2 of its return to play plan, the reopening of team facilities for training activities, on June 8, the league announced Thursday.

Since the season was paused on March 12, the league has considered itself to be in Phase 1 of the plan, meaning self-isolation. While the NHL and NHLPA have made progress off the ice towards a return to play negotiating things such as the playoff format, throughout all those talks the league still remained in Phase 1. This is the first concrete step the NHL has taken towards an eventual return to the ice.

"Beginning June 8 – subject to each Club’s satisfaction of all of the requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol – Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice)," a statement released by the NHL said. "Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six Players at any one time, plus a limited number of Club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 Protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning."

As the statement notes, participation in Phase 2 activities are voluntary and will be limited to six players at a time. The Capitals have not yet set a date for the team's start of Phase 2.

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Phase 3 of the plan is training camp and, despite Thursday's announcement, we remain far off from that point. According to Pierre LeBrun, the earliest the league would start camps is July 10. Phase 4 is then the resumption of the season.

Presumably, Phase 3 will not start without a date set for when Phase 4. It is hard to believe the NHLPA would agree to an indefinite training camp. Phase 2, however, can begin without any formalized dates for Phases 3 and 4.  So while this is certainly a step towards the return of hockey and a sign that things are improving, all the difficult deciions regarding health and safety protocols as well as a timeline for the eventual 2020 postseason are still yet to be decided.

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