WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie didn’t have much of a voice left after a few days of celebrating with the Stanley Cup.
But the forward came up with a new slogan for Washington Capitals fans.
“There’s been a lot of chants,” Oshie said onstage at the National Mall at the end of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup parade Tuesday. “There’s been, ‘Let’s go Caps.’ There’s been, ‘We want the Cup.’ We’ve heard in the streets, ‘We’ve got the Cup.’ We’ve got a new one for you today: Back to back.”
That created a roar from an energized crowd that filled the National Mall for a rally in honor of the Capitals winning the first championship in their 43-season history. They clinched the title with a 4-3 win against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 last Thursday.
“I couldn’t see the end of people from the stage,” forward Tom Wilson said. “This is home. This city has made us feel so welcome. It’s unbelievable to give back the least we could and just celebrate with them.”
The rally followed a parade that started at 23rd Street and went along Constitution Avenue to the National Mall at 7th Street.
Players waved from buses and threw beads to fans packed 10 deep along the route. Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and defenseman Brooks Orpik stood at the front of the last bus taking turns lifting and kissing the Cup.
Broadcasters John Walton and Joe Beninati emceed the rally at the National Mall. At the front of the stage where the Prince of Wales Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup.
Coach Barry Trotz said the multinational makeup of the roster makes the Capitals the perfect team for Washington.
“We’ve got Americans, we’ve got Canadians, we’ve got Swedes, we’ve got Danes,” he said. “We got Russians, we got Czechs, we got Australians. We’ve got rookies. We got veterans. We got great people. It sounds just like D.C. and the community of D.C.”
Trotz, owner Ted Leonsis, and players repeatedly thanked Capitals fans, with some calling them the best in hockey.
“I just want to thank all of you guys,” Backstrom said. “This is something we’ve dreamed of since we were kids, and to see you guys out there today celebrating with us, we’re absolutely nothing without you guys. So thank you very much.”
Defenseman John Carlson, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, said he wasn’t ready to talk about the future because he’s having too much fun in the present.
“We’re just happy to be here celebrating with each other,” he said. “It takes a lot, and that’s what we’re so proud of, is how much we had to give and how many times we got knocked down. We just did whatever it took and maybe won on a year that people said we didn’t deserve it or we didn’t have the talent on our team to do it. I think that makes it sweeter too.”
Trotz, whose contract expires July 1, said he’s confident he’ll be back with the Capitals.
“I’m not thinking about it right now,” he said. “We’ll talk. We’re going to enjoy this with the players. I love the players, I love D.C., my family loves it here. We’ll get something done.”
Ovechkin was the final speaker at the rally. He restarted the “back-to-back” chants, then gathered his teammates at the front of the stage to sing what’s become the Capitals’ new anthem, Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”
After the singing and one final celebration video, Ovechkin grabbed the microphone for a parting message: “I said, not me say it, it was just us saying, ‘We’re not going to [stink] this year. We’re the Stanley Cup champions.”