What if, Duchaine thought while watching the Capitals on TV last month, he got a tattoo of Connolly getting his tattoo on that alcohol-fueled day? Duchaine’s friends loved the idea, as did his wife, Lindsey. He tweeted the glorious photo of Connolly, which originated from an Instagram story and belongs in a museum, and vowed to follow through on his idea if he got 10,000 retweets. It was an ambitious, perhaps unattainable goal.
“Screw it,” Duchaine tweeted 20 minutes later. “I’ll do it for 1,000.”
Less than 24 hours later, he surpassed that mark. The reality was that Duchaine had already committed, in his mind, to getting the tattoo, regardless of how many retweets he got.
“That’s crazy,” Connolly told The Athletic’s Chris Kuc when informed of Duchaine’s plan.
“I’d love to be there, I’ll pay for it if I have to, too,” fellow Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly said. “I mean, I wanna see that done for sure.”
In January, Duchaine contacted Tattoo Paradise in Adams Morgan. That’s the shop where Connolly and several of his teammates got inked two days after winning the Stanley Cup, as part of their nonstop celebration that also included pounding beers at Nationals Park and frolicking in the fountains at the Georgetown Waterfront. Duchaine arranged a consultation with Billy Bennett, the artist who tattooed Connolly, and explained his out-there idea.
“He was down,” Duchaine said Monday of Bennett’s response. “This was a cool opportunity for him because he had never tattooed himself on someone else before, so that was sweet. We decided on a style and basic details. He sent me a few mock-ups of the line work and then just went to town.”
On Sunday night, over the course of roughly 90 minutes, Bennett tattooed an image of himself tattooing Connolly on Duchaine’s left biceps. When Duchaine scheduled the appointment a few weeks ago, he didn’t realize Sunday was the day of the Super Bowl, but of all the possible years to miss the NFL’s biggest game to get a tattoo of a bearded man eating pizza on your arm, he picked a good one.
Duchaine chose Sunday because the Capitals were off that night (he attended their Super Bowl matinee loss to the Bruins) and also on Monday, increasing the likelihood that Connolly and Smith-Pelly would accept the invitation he extended to them during the all-star break. The players ultimately had to pass — “They probably had a Super Bowl party at Ovi’s,” Duchaine said — but Duchaine’s wife and several friends tagged along for moral support and to live-stream the experience on Twitter. During the procedure, one viewer commented that all 11 people in his apartment to ostensibly watch the Super Bowl were watching Duchaine get inked instead.
“Do you have any regrets?” Duchaine’s wife asked.
“No, of course not,” he replied. “As long as I’ve had to think about this, I am very happy.”
Unlike Connolly, who sat in a chair while getting his tattoo eight months ago, Duchaine lay on a table. That would’ve made it difficult to consume a slice of pizza to really complete the “Inkception.”
“They also say you shouldn’t eat and get tattoos,” Duchaine said. “I’m sure that afternoon in June there was an exception to many rules.”
Duchaine, who hopes to show Connolly and Smith-Pelly the finished product at some point, said he doesn’t plan to share any close-up photos of his new tattoo until the redness has started to fade and “it can really stand out.”
On Monday, Duchaine explained that his latest tattoo, which will take about two weeks to fully heal, is more than an amusing conversation starter when he wears a tank top.
“It’s going to remind me, of course, of the Cup run, and that it all sort of ended in a moment that we all got to share,” he said. “I look at that photo and I think that could’ve been any of us fans. Looking at Conno in that seat, eating that pizza, with that ‘I don’t really care’ look on his face, that could’ve been me, that could’ve been any of us. That was the feeling of that celebration. They felt it just like we did.”
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