- The Washington Times
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jeremy Werblowsky said Tuesday felt like a dream for him. It’s a good thing he came all the way from Israel to be a part of it.

The Washington Capitals were born in 1974, the same year as Werblowsky and childhood friend Bernice Cohen. Mr. Werblowsky and Mrs. Cohen grew up sharing a passion for the team, one that didn’t die when Mr. Werblowsky moved to Israel when he turned 18.

He flew from the town of Modiin, Israel, back to the U.S. to share Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with Mrs. Cohen, and he stayed for Tuesday’s Stanley Cup parade down Constitution Avenue.

“It didn’t seem like this was ever going to happen,” Mr. Werblowsky said.

These were two of more than 100,000 fans who swarmed the city for the Capitals‘ triumphant parade. Attendees celebrated with the team and revisited the unbridled joy of the Stanley Cup that Washington won four games to one over the Vegas Golden Knights.

It was the first Washington championship in the four major sports that Mrs. Cohen’s four children were alive to experience. Two of them also attended the parade and rally and stood much closer to the stage where players and staff were seated.

“This is more important to me than watching my kids’ birth. Just watching them actually enjoy a championship after so many years,” Mrs. Cohen said.

Fans roamed around the Chinatown neighborhood and the mall hours before the parade started, and bars such as the Greene Turtle at Capital One Arena began selling promotions like buckets of beer just as early. Official Stanley Cup gear was on sale at certain street corners, but some fans also wore more offbeat shirts — one depicted “The Save,” Braden Holtby’s win-preserving paddle save from Game 2, and another said, “My Cup Size is Stanley.”

The buses arrived nearly an hour before the scheduled 11 a.m. start of the parade to line up near the Lincoln Memorial. Some carried players and their families while others transported longtime season-ticket holders who were invited to participate. It took until 12:40 p.m. for the last bus to travel the length of the route: 10 blocks east on Constitution Avenue, beneath a giant American flag hung by cranes, and onto the National Mall via 7th Street SW.

Many players chugged beer when they were officially introduced by John Walton and Joe Beninati, the Capitals‘ radio and television play-by-play announcers, respectively. Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin picked up Australian rookie Nathan Walker and flipped him sideways as he drank.

With an eye toward next season, T.J. Oshie instigated a chant of “back-to-back!” and head coach Barry Trotz, who is entering the offseason without a new contract, added that “we’re gonna do it again.”

As much as a championship parade is designed to honor the winning team, Tuesday was also focused on thanking the fans.

“Since day one that I’ve been here, you’ve made me feel nothing but family,” Wilson said. “This city is truly unbelievable. Passionate but respectful fans. And I just want to thank you guys for everything.”

“Every time I drive on Constitution for the rest of my life, I’m gonna remember this day and how amazing it was, and it’s all because of you guys,” Holtby said.

Before it was the team’s turn to speak, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser addressed the crowd, introducing herself as “the mayor of the world champion Washington Capitals.”

“We’re here today because we have the hockey team in the world, we’re here today because we have the world’s best fans and we’re here today because we are simply the best city in the world, too,” Mrs. Bowser said.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, the CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, delivered a message about the “love and respect” shared by the fans and Washington community.

“All I’ve ever wanted to do was hold a mirror up to the people that we serve. And all I see reflected back is love, and that’s what this is about,” Mr. Leonsis said.

Ovechkin was saved for last in both the player introductions, which were otherwise numerically ordered, and the speeches. He gestured to the crowd to pipe down as they cheered him on his path to the microphone. In his signature choppy, accented English, he said: “What’s up, babes.”

The captain said he knew the parade would be crazy, “but it’s basically nuts.”

He invited the masses to sing along to a refrain of the Queen song, “We Are the Champions,” a song that has become the Capitals’ unofficial anthem and a celebratory finale to a season that began with some doubts and ended with a title.

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