What looked too good to be true was. On Thursday night, Washington won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in Vegas, finally ending the Golden Knights fairy tale of a season in a short-lived series . There was no loser in this year's Stanley Cup Final, but there certainly was a winner - Alexander Ovechkin.
The Las Vegas Golden Knights accomplished feats that no other team has done before, Sin City became win city and evolved into a hockey town over the course of the year. But Ovi was the real knight in shinning armor, winning playoff MVP and setting a franchise record of 15 playoff goals.
It's difficult to not be ecstatic for The Great 8. He worked his tail off for 13 seasons with the team that drafted him to accomplish this. He's constantly oozing with emotion and it's very refreshing to see a hockey player as overzealous as Ovechkin. Before this year, Ovi lost to the Penguins just short of 10 times in the playoffs, and opposite to the NBA ideology of "if you cant beat them join them," he never contemplated the blasphemous act of playing for them . And even after falling to the Pens at home in game 1, he persevered and beat the Penguins for the first time in the Crosby-Ovechkin Era. That is why this cup means so much more to him. He truly earned it.
The Caps were buzzing all series and despite the historic, inaugural season displayed by Vegas, Washington made the Golden Knights look like squires this entire series. I think the Capitals could have swept the series, but Ovechkin, who had full authority over the celebrations, wanted to end the series in Sin City. He took full advantage of the circumstances and had booths booked at Hakkasan night club before puck drop. 13 years to win your first Stanley Cup in Vegas may have been worth the wait for The Great 8. Sources say he can still be found on the strip shirtless, double fisting Russian mules.
A few players on Washington achieved individual milestones, making this cup run that much more memorable. Barry Trotz is the most deserving coach in the NHL right now to win a cup, and finally, after 20 years since he entered the NHL he gets his first. Now, At 55, he plans to celebrate no different than his players.
The greatest and most touching soundbite of the playoffs came from Oshie, who got to share this moment with his dad battling Alzheimer's.
I'm not crying, you're crying...
It's extremely difficult to find this kind of raw emotion anywhere else. Widely considered the hardest championship to win in sport, the Stanley Cup Championship has a tendency to bring out indescribable emotion in players and fans.
Jay Beagle is the ultimate 4th liner and with his hockey resume that shouldn't surprise anyone. He became the first player in history to win a championship in the ECHL, AHL and NHL, serving as an inspiration to the hundreds of players banging it out in the NHL's developmental leagues.
Every year, a playoff hero emerges. Someone who has been low key throughout the season, flying under most peoples radars, only to become a playoff animal, thriving in the high pressure, hard hitting games. Scarborough's own, Devante Smith Pelly was an absolute train in this year's playoff. He ripped 7 goals in 24 games, one of them being the game tying goal in game 5. That matched his season total of 7 goals in 75 games. DSP is a fan favourite in Washington, and like most fan favourites, its largely due to his grit.
Doesn't even miss a drill. That's a hockey guy...
But it was the playoff MVP who started this trend.
This year's Stanley Cup narrative put hockey on the map. A league that is usually criticized for being "too serious" changed things up when Las Vegas had to fill seats out in the desert. Vegas and DC started their very own pre-game ceremonial standoff with each other. Hosting pre-game ceremonies with theatrics and performances that seemed like a hyrbid of medieval times and the Ice Capades in the middle of a Diplo concert.
This circus show had fans racing home to catch pre game ceremonies.
Vegas definitely knows how to put on a show. Bringing out Lil Jon for a concert in game 1 and having Bruce Buffer announce if the player's are "ready to rumble" may be the primary reason Vegas took game 1. This had Washington wondering what's the perfect way to rebuttal this performance. The answer - Shaggy and Sting. A duo that would excite anyone over the age of 50.
They countered the charismatic Bruce Buffer with a Wheel of Fortune themed intro presented by host Pat Sajak. Not nearly as hype but equally absurd.
Also, shout out to Washington and their fan base. I never thought of them as a hockey town but they proved otherwise, flooding the streets in a sea of red every game. Here's a hilarious, first-hand video of what it was like in the middle of the jamboree, Thursday night.
Now, Ovechkin becomes the first Russian captain to ever win the cup. He led the NHL regular season in goals, the playoff in goals, and he is now your Stanley Cup MVP.
So, raise your glass hockey fans because he has a message for all of you.