Yorktown Sentry

Capitals Playoff Spirit Around Yorktown

Junior%2C+Alison+Sawyer%2C+sporting+Capitals+gear+around+school.
Junior, Alison Sawyer, sporting Capitals gear around school.

Junior, Alison Sawyer, sporting Capitals gear around school.

Lindsey Bowers

Lindsey Bowers

Junior, Alison Sawyer, sporting Capitals gear around school.

Joseph Ramos, Sentry Staff Reporter

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It has been 44 years since the Washington Capitals were established as a franchise in the National Hockey League (NHL). Throughout this time, the team had only ever made it to the Stanley Cup Finals once, only to be swept 4-0 by the Detroit Red Wings in 1998. Since that run, the Capitals have seen many changes to their franchise including the addition of star player Alexander Ovechkin who has been trying to bring the Caps back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the past 13 seasons. After seven head coaches, 12 playoff runs cut short (all in the first and second rounds) and countless disappointed fans since the 1998 season, the Capitals have finally won the Stanley Cup. With the Caps playoff success this year and Cup victory, the fan base has been reinvigorated and support for the team can be seen throughout the city and in our school.

After key victories during this year’s playoff run, the halls of Yorktown have been colored with the red of students and faculties’ Capitals jerseys and t-shirts. Students have also posted their celebrations of goals and wins on various social media platforms to spread the enthusiasm pushing the Caps towards their first ever Stanley Cup. One group of students even had a video of their celebration of the Capitals’ series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins retweeted by the official Twitter accounts of the Washington Capitals and the NHL. Most importantly, all of the Capitals playoff games have been heavily viewed by the majority of students, making the Caps playoff run a popular topic of discussion throughout the school.

“Like many people in the school, I have watched pretty much every game and have worn my Capitals apparel upon series wins,” sophomore Robert Gay said.  

Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals’ rival, have also been the subject of much ridicule in the school. The Capitals finally defeated the Penguins during this year’s championship run after many seasons of losing to them in the Playoffs. “Life-long” fans of the Vegas Golden Knights, whom the Capitals defeated in the Stanley Cup Finals, also encountered deserved trash-talking from avid Caps fans during the series between the two teams.

“I’ve seen lots of students wearing red shirts and posting on social media after big wins. There has also been much smack talk to [Pittsburgh] Penguins fans, particularly after the Capitals defeated them in the second round of the Playoffs,” sophomore Aidan Burnside said.

Throughout this year’s playoffs, students have also attended viewing parties hosted by the Capitals. Fans gathered together to watch away games of the Playoffs on jumbotrons in Rosslyn for the earlier rounds and inside Capital One Arena, the home of the Capitals, for the Stanley Cup Finals games. During the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, 26,000 fans went to the viewing party at Capital One Arena to see the Caps play the Las Vegas Golden Knights even though the actual game was happening on the other side of the country in Las Vegas. Despite the ice being empty, the atmosphere was still electric in the rink as fans cheered on the Capitals through the first two games of the series.  

“[The viewing party] had a very fun and enthusiastic environment. There was lots of excitement for the Caps and Washington sports as a whole,” Burnside said.

The actual home playoff games themselves were also very popular events. For the two home games during the Stanley Cup Finals, the streets of D.C. around Capital One Arena were closed down to accommodate the game day festivities. Performers such as Sting, Shaggy, and Fall Out Boy held free concerts on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery prior to the games and fans who did not have tickets congregated directly outside the rink to watch the games on jumbotrons. Upon victory, Capitals-devotees celebrated in the streets and, much to the dismay of law enforcement on scene, took to climbing lamp posts and honking their car horns to the tune of “Let’s Go Caps!”  

All of the support for the Capitals this year has likely originated out of both the Caps long quest for their first Stanley Cup in franchise history as well as the 26 year long championship drought for Washington D.C.’s major sports teams* that fans hope to end. The last time a D.C. team hoisted the trophy of their respective sport was in 1992, when the Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI and brought the Lombardi Trophy back to the nation’s capital. Since then, no team has even made it to the finals of their league, aside from the aforementioned Capitals run in 1998. Now that the Capitals have finally made it back to the finals, those who are not typically hockey fans have been  rooting on the Capitals in hopes to finally bring a trophy of any sorts back home.

“I have been a [Caps] fan for a few years now, and this is the first year that I have really seen support like this for the team. I have noticed a lot of people in the area turning into Caps fans for the playoffs. It seems to be because [the Caps] are finally winning. Everybody would be so happy if a local team finally won a title too,” junior Cate Whitehouse said.

This year’s Capitals playoff run has reinvigorated sports interest in a city where it had been dying out due to the failures of the past. This new enthusiasm has spread to the school and its student body, where hockey fandom has significantly spiked. As the team secured their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, local Caps-mania reached a new high. The streets of D.C. were jam-packed with fans reveling in the long-awaited victory. In the Yorktown area, fireworks could be heard going off in the night to celebrate the triumphant culmination of a two month long playoff effort by the Capitals and their faithful supporters.

 

*Includes Washington Capitals, Washington Nationals, Washington Redskins and Washington Wizards

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Capitals Playoff Spirit Around Yorktown