The Washington Capitals have done it! They beat the upstart Las Vegas Golden Knights expansion team in the Stanley Cup finals, taking the final best of seven game series in just five games, and winning it while on the road in Las Vegas. After 43 seasons, the Washington Capitals are the National Hockey League Champions for 2017-2018.
This has been a loooong time coming. The Caps have not been to the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs since 1998 (where they were swept out in four games). And they have not been alone: Washington area pro sports teams have not been able to win championships for decades. The last time that any Washington professional sports team won a championship before last night was in 1992, when Doug Williams led the Redskins to a Super Bowl championship under Coach Joe Gibbs.
The Capitals were playing their 3,701st game last night. The news media has documented every turn in a winding and frustrating journey for a team that has always had just one goal in mind: to bring the Stanley Cup to Washington, D.C. And the athletes who played this winning season are quick to put all that in perspective when they speak of how they finally achieved their goal.
Players consistently identify teamwork as the key to their success. They may use hockey terminology to describe the strategies and the game plan they followed during this championship season, but teamwork always emerges as the primary empowering value. The individual players have become superstars for their individual achievements—but they are all quick to identify teamwork as the foundation for finally securing the Stanley Cup.
Watch or read their interviews and you’ll learn about how hard they’ve worked to get to this point. You’ll be amazed at their ability to stay completely focused on each shift, each period, each game, as they pursue their greatest goal. You’ll be moved by the way they have endured professional ups and downs, and worked through personal hardships and tragedies. And you will soon realize that their commitment to being a team that works together through every situation—good or bad, win or lose—is what finally brought them the championship.
Like thousands of others who have been “Rockin’ the Red” in support of their quest, I am inspired by this group of athletes and the team they have become—especially by their commitment to teamwork as the way to achieve the greatest goals. They know how to play hockey, and they know how to entertain us. And it turns out they have lots to teach us as well. They are proud to be a team. And now they are a team of champions.