WASHINGTON -- The Capitals raised their first Stanley Cup championship banner on opening night, but it wouldn't be Washington if there weren't some politics involved.
Alex Ovechkin skated with the trophy, the players received roars from the fans and the 2018 Stanley Cup champions banner was unveiled before the Capitals' 7-0 win over the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena. The lengthy pregame ceremony included an entertaining video that chronicled the team's offseason exploits with the Cup, including their now infamous inebriated appearances around the city in the days following their championship parade.
"Thank you. From the bottom of our collective hearts, thank you," owner Ted Leonsis said to the fans. "Our players delivered the Stanley Cup because they love and respect you."
As part of the ceremony, the crowd sang "We are the Champions!" -- a moment that hit home for the players.
"Gave me chills. I was just looking up and I was hearing the crowd sing that song," center Nicklas Backstrom said, then added with a laugh: "I want to experience that again."
Taking part in the ceremony was forward Tom Wilson, a top-line winger for the Capitals in their Stanley Cup run who was suspended 20 games earlier in the day by the NHL Department of Player Safety for an illegal head check on St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. Wilson skated out in uniform and received one of the loudest ovations of the night from the fans.
Absent from the ceremony was former coach Barry Trotz, who left the team after the championship following a dispute over an automatic option on his contract that was triggered when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Now the coach of the New York Islanders, Trotz wasn't featured in the video during the ceremony nor was he mentioned by name during the event.
The Stanley Cup championship was the first in franchise history for the Capitals, and it was secured in only their second Final appearance since their NHL debut in 1974. It also was the first championship for a Washington, D.C., team in the four major pro sports since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in January 1992.
As radio announcer and ceremonial emcee John Walton said, the banner raising was "the end to the greatest sports summer D.C. has ever known."
For T.J. Oshie, the ceremony got him thinking ahead to this season's playoffs.
"When you're part of something like that [ceremony]," said Oshie, who scored 24 seconds into the game, "how can you not be excited to get going and try to do it again?"
The Capitals had previously lost in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in three straight seasons, including twice in a row at the hands of the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. But they defeated the Penguins in the second round last season in six games -- and a reference to the series victory received one of the loudest cheers of Wednesday night. The Capitals then enjoyed a seven-game win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals and a six-game victory over the expansion Vegas Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.
The home opener was a celebration for Capitals fans inside and outside the arena. Streets were shut down to facilitate both a red-carpet entrance for the players and a viewing party for the fans, much like the festivities they had during the postseason.
Those fans sent a message to their team at the end of the opening night ceremony, chanting "back-to-back" as the Stanley Cup banner was raised to the rafters.
Ovechkin said earlier in the week that it was back to business for his team.
"We have to realize it's over. It's a new season. We know how we have to play. We know what gives us a result," Ovechkin said. "I think we've already moved on. We're professionals. We know how hard it is to reach that point."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.