The words of John Walton will echo forever among Capitals fans when he declared, "It's not a dream! It's not a dessert mirage! It's Lord Stanley and he is coming to Washington!" But while he was the radio voice of the Capitals throughout the incredible 2018 run, there was another voice that made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final that many Washington fans will also remember.
The Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights met in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 4, 2018. If you tuned into the radio broadcast during the first period, you may have heard a familiar voice, that of Ron Weber.
Weber was the radio play-by-play caller for the team in its very first season. He was truly the voice of the Capitals during his time in the booth as he would continue on for 23 seasons calling 1,936 consecutive games, never missing a single one.
"The closest I came was the night of the Persian Gulf War where my play-by-play was pretty well eliminated," Weber said. "I wasn't on more than I was that night when that Persian Gulf War broke out, but I did get some play-by-play in."
For fans of the team during their early years, Weber's voice was essentially synonymous with the team.
But there was one thing that Weber never got to do during his tenure and that was call a Stanley Cup Final game. His final season in the booth was 1996-97, just one year before Washington would go on to win the conference and play in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in team history in 1997-98.
"Bad timing, eh?" Weber said.
That was something that did not sit well with the current radio voice of the Capitals, Walton, and it was something he was determined to rectify.
"From a historical context, [Weber] deserved to be involved with the final," Walton said. "It was something that I was made aware of going back to 1997-98, the first year he wasn't part of the broadcast and when the Capitals went to the final and he wasn't a part of it, that was unfortunate. That was a wrong that needed to be corrected."
In 2018 when the Capitals went on their glorious run to the Stanley Cup, Walton began thinking of bringing Weber into the booth for a home game in the Stanley Cup Final.
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"I had it in the back of my mind -- probably late in the Tampa series, certainly after Game 7 against Tampa -- that if we went to the final, that if we had an opportunity, since the series was going to start in Las Vegas, if we got a lead in the series, I wanted him to come on," Walton said. "I didn't tell him about it, I didn't have any conversation with him ahead of time. I did have a conversation after Game 3. I had it in the back of my mind, I talked with Ken Sabourin about it after Game 3 and I talked with Ben Raby and I said look, I want to do this. If anybody's got any objection it never sees the light of day, but this is something that I think would be important to a lot of people. They were unanimous in their support. They were vocal in their support as well. It wasn't just me, it was them too."
The idea was floated to Weber and he agreed. Twenty years after calling his last game for the Capitals, Weber was in the booth for the first period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
"That was very nice of John Walton to do that," Weber said.
"The funny part was that the Caps had the first period they did, they get three quick goals, the place is going crazy and my Twitter feed is nothing but do not let him leave," Walton said.
After that incredible period of hockey, a period in which the Caps led 3-0, Weber had a request for Walton.
"[Weber] said the only thing that he wanted more than being a part of the broadcast, he said if this team won he always dreamed about being in a Washington Capitals Stanley Cup championship parade and if there was anything that I could do to make that happen," Walton said.
He was only too happy to oblige.
"When we won, those words did not stray too far from my head after having him there," Walton said, "And after we won Game 5 and we came back and the plans were being made, I had brought that up to the powers that be with Monumental Sports."
Walton continued, "I got to see the reaction from people in the parade when they saw Ron. There were people crying when they saw Ron. When we turned onto Constitution, there were people who were shouting and yelling at both of us, but it was the ones that were yelling and looking for Ron's attention and people who were in the Capitals satin jackets and the old-school jerseys. I get choked up thinking about it. And Ron, as much as he is a wordsmith on the air, he and I are different in the fact that I'm a little bit more emotional overall. He's a little bit more matter-of-fact. But he turned, he tapped me on the back and he just looked at me and he smiled as big as I think he could have smiled. He said, this is great. And he turned around and he waved some more. It was everything that he wanted it to be. I was so glad and so honored. There's nobody I would have rather been in the parade with. To be with him was a memory for me for a lifetime and I'm sure for him too."
"I give [Walton] credit for arranging where I'd sit next to him in the parade which almost was as big a thrill as the clinching of the Cup," Weber said.
Thursday is the two-year anniversary of Game 4, a game full of incredible memories for Caps fans from what the team was able to do on the ice, winning ia 6-2 blowout to take a 3-1 stranglehold of the series. One of the best moments of the night, however, did not happen on the ice. It happened in the booth where Weber, who was the voice of the team in its first season when Washington won just eight out of 80 games, finally got his chance to call a Stanley Cup Final game.
"I still have people who stop me and people who stop him who love the fact that he had a microphone on and that he was part of that moment in team history," Walton said. "He didn't get to do it the last time. It was a great thrill for us to have him commenting on what was going on in the game and I think it meant a lot to a ton of long-time Caps fans."
"That was nice to be a part of it, but the main thing was just to glory in their win," Weber said. "They finally did it."
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