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Ovechkin encourages fans to touch history on tour with Stanley Cup

Capitals captain poses for photos at police department, children's hospital, youth hockey program

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin has been having so much fun with the Stanley Cup he wants to spread the joy throughout the district and its surrounding communities.

So with the help of a police escort, the Washington Capitals captain and owner Ted Leonsis went on a whirlwind tour with the Stanley Cup on Friday. It began at the Arlington County Police Department and was followed by a visit with children at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

It ended at Fort Dupont Ice Arena, the only full-size indoor ice rink in Washington and home of the Fort Dupont Hockey Club, the oldest minority youth hockey program in North America.

 

[RELATED: Ovechkin's sick moves among six NHL Kids' Choice Sports Awards nominees]

 

Everywhere they went they were greeted by crowds of smiling fans eager to get a glimpse of Ovechkin and the Stanley Cup.

"Yeah, it's great," Ovechkin said. "I think this Cup has lots of energy. I tell everybody, 'Touch it,' because, seriously, it's history. Everybody wants to be part of it and we want to share with all our community."

In the eight days since the Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 43-season history, Ovechkin has seen the impact the trophy can have on those who see it and touch it for the first time.

Video: Ovechkin and Oshie hoist the Stanley Cup at Nats game

He experienced it himself the night of the clinching Game 5 win against the Vegas Golden Knights, and he's enjoyed having the opportunity to allow others to be part of the celebration.

"We were excited when we touched it for the first time, when we spent a couple minutes with it for the first time," Ovechkin said. "It was probably the best moment of my career and I think of all my teammates' career. That's why we play. For [the fans], it's maybe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be around it, touch it; someone [kissed] it already. It's great. 

"It's fun to see how people react, how people give you a hug because they really love it, they really enjoy it and they support us."

Patrol officer Sarah Butzer had seen the Stanley Cup twice before it arrived at the Arlington County Police Department headquarters, where Ovechkin and Leonsis posed for photos with members of the police and fire departments. She saw the Cup the first time at an Arlington, Virginia, firehouse when it was in the area during the Stanley Cup Final. 

She saw it again when the Capitals brought it to an Arlington restaurant, Don Tito, for a private party after returning from Las Vegas last Friday. That night, she had an opportunity to touch the trophy. 

"It was a zoo. It was crazy," she said. "I was able to go up briefly and see the players, see the Cup. I had to work at 4:30 the next morning, but it was worth it being tired. I just drank a lot of coffee."

Butzer was grateful Ovechkin and Leonsis gave her and others the opportunity to spend a little time up close with the Stanley Cup.

"It's wonderful that they're so supportive of law enforcement and public safety in general with the fire department and everything," she said. "So we just really appreciate that they've taken the time to come see us and show their appreciation back to us."

At the hospital, children waited in line to take photos. Many of them drew pictures to give to Ovechkin, who reminded them to make sure they touched the Stanley Cup when they had the chance.

"It meant a lot to me," 11-year-old cancer survivor Tyler DeMille said. "I finally got to touch the Stanley Cup. Woo-hoo!"

When Ovechkin arrived at Fort Dupont Ice Arena, he greeted coach Neal Henderson with a hug. 

"Oh, my," Henderson said. "That's something that I'll never forget. I'll carry it to the afterlife."

Henderson, a finalist for the inagurual Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award to be given by the NHL, later lifted the Stanley Cup with Ovechkin and posed for pictures with him, Leonsis and Fort Dupont Hockey Club players. The 80-year-old founded the club in 1978, and the Capitals hold annual ice hockey clinics with the program. Ovechkin hosted players for a holiday skate in 2016. 

"They've been quite an asset to the Fort Dupont Hockey Club and I really appreciate what the Washington Capitals have done financially and socially, and also physically, sending their players down to be with our kids and to give them the spirit of being part of something great," Henderson said. "Mr. Leonsis has changed the whole feeling of hockey in Washington, D.C."

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