A few hours after the Capitals and their new trophy landed at Dulles Airport Friday afternoon, they kicked off the Stanley Cup’s grandest tradition: raucous, joyous visits to local watering holes.
The celebration started at Don Tito, a restaurant in Arlington. Around 7:30 p.m., a black Chrysler Pacifica pulled up, carrying the Cup in the back. By that point, only three Capitals had made their way inside for a private party on the roof. That included T.J. Oshie and Matt Niskanen, who had endeared themselves to the fan base after riding the Metro together to Games 3 and 4. This time they took an Uber. Wilson followed a few minutes later. He re-emerged from the restaurant and walked out to the Pacifica, which was surrounded by swarms of fans. He lifted the Cup out of the case and carried it into the restaurant to a thunderous applause.
Players arrived on their own accord. Rookie Nathan Walker, who became the first Australian player to appear in the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring, initially was turned back by bouncers because they didn’t recognize him as a Capitals player. About a half-hour later, Evgeny Kuznetsov pulled his black Mercedes up to the side door of the building and carefully positioned his car at the curb as fans cheered on his parallel parking skills.
The crowd only grew as the sun went down. Red-clad fans brought their children and dogs to stake out the arrivals. Coach Barry Trotz arrived in a polo shirt and shorts just before 9:30.
As the players mingled on the roof, they were cheered by hundreds on the street below. Wilson and Devante Smith-Pelly sprayed the crowd with champagne. “We want the Cup! We want the Cup!” chanted the crowd, before Oshie came to the ledge of the roof to hoist the trophy over his head. Eventually, players brought the Cup into the masses below, who cheered maniacally.
This was Day 1 of … well, of many. The videos tell the story.
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