The Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in just six games. As Evgeny Kuznetsov flapped his arms in the dirty bird celebration and Matt Murray picked himself off the ice, the Penguins lost the Stanley Cup. The Capitals slew the mythical Penguins dragon that haunted them and went on to win that Stanley Cup.
The Capitals haven’t stopped partying, including swimming in public fountains and trying to drink Nationals Park dry. Conversely, the Penguins hit the golf course.
Next season, the Capitals will raise a giant red banner to the rafters, as they do every year, but this time it will not be for a wasted division title or Presidents’ Trophy. And the NHL will probably make the Penguins watch the spectacle, as 19,000 Capitals fans again vault past happy into delirium.
Penguins fans, it’s OK to hate the celebration. It’s OK if it feels like someone twisted a knife in your fan heart. It should be your team that is celebrating. It should be you who are partying with them in an exaltation of the sport’s ultimate accomplishment.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Capitals celebrating like a raucous fraternity house after finals week. In fact, it is fun to watch. But you don’t have to like it.
Let the hate flow.
Your rival took the Stanley Cup from you. Perhaps the Capitals jubilation and limitless revelry will be the smack in the face and spark the Penguins needed but never got last season. Possibly seeing a city, which Penguins fans have dominated and taunted, go wild will remind Penguins fans that winning is the goal. And it sucks to lose.
Last season was unprecedented in this writer’s life as countless fans expressed an apathetic opinion on the success of the team. Losing was shrugged off with pithy slogans, “Phil Kessel is a two-time Stanley Cup champion” or “They’ll be fine in the playoffs.”
Well, the Penguins weren’t fine. A team constructed to make history instead allowed their inferior arch-rivals to do so.
The nickel’s worth of free advice from this corner is don’t be petty. Lording five Stanley Cups over the Capitals and their fans while they carry the current Cup isn’t a good look. Instead, enjoy the journey next season. Know that seasons so rarely end with blissful Stanley Cup celebrations and invest that hope and passion into the team, not the past results.
Soon enough, the Penguins window will close. And it could be nine years, 17 years, or 25 years before you see Lord Stanley again. Ask Maple Leafs and Canadiens fans what it’s like to go without the Cup.
Enjoy the Penguins ride. Embrace it. Because it will end.
Just like life, if we’re looking backward, we’ll miss the present and skip by the future. Let the Capitals celebration be a reminder that every year counts. Be happy for them. Or not. The point is, the Penguins lost and you don’t have to like it.