Chocolate City will never be thought of as hockey town. At its core Washington, D.C. is a basketball city whose sports passion is an NFL team that wears burgundy and gold.
In their dubious beginning which started in 1974 few Black sports fans were down with the Washington Capitals. They had no reason to be. During the Caps first decade the Bullets (now the Wizards) were always in the hunt for a playoff spot. They won six division titles in seven years and made three trips to the NBA Finals winning the franchises only title in 1978.
40 years to the day the after the Bullets beat the Seattle Supersonics, the Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 and ended the championship curse that hovered over the DMV since 1991.
While the hockey world gives Alexander Ovechkin his props for finally winningthe Stanley Cup, Washington could have been lacing up their boots for another game Sunday had it not been a clutch game tying goal from Devante Smith-Pelly.
Devante Smith-Pelly scores an unbelievable goal, Vegas dazzles with another fantastic pregame show and the Capitals enjoy a celebration 44 years in the making in this edition of Best of the Night! For the latest hockey action, subscribe to our channel by clicking the big, red shiny SUBSCRIBE button Watch live hockey wherever you are: https://www.nhl.com/tv Breaking news, scores, stats, analysis & real-time highlights: https://www.nhl.com Feeling social?
Smith-Pelly may ultimately become a mere footnote on the road to Chocolate Citys first championship on ice in hockey lore. Cast off by the New Jersey Devils, DSP scored seven goals during the regular season. However, it was his seventh goal of the playoffs that tied game five of the Stanley Cup Finals and set the stage for Lars Ellers game winner.
Canadas Black hockey heritage has always been obscured in the great white north. Hockey is the national pastime of Americas northern neighbor. Black players treat the frozen pond of their youth the way their counterparts in this country treat Rucker Park in New York or Barry Farms in DC playing basketball. They are places where dreams are spawned, and greatness is honed.
But while the NBA routinely features a Black starting five, the NHL still doesnt have an entire Black line in its league.
The great Edmonton Oilers teams of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier wouldnt have been multiple Stanley Cup winners had it not been for the goaltending of the great Grant Fuhr. Unless youre a hockey aficionado his impact on one of the NHLs great dynastys is a footnote at best.
Goaltender of Edmonton Oilers five-time Cup-winning 1980s dynasty was first black player elected to Hockey Hall of Fame
Jarome Iginla isnt perceived as one as one of the games all-time great scorers outside of hockey circles either. Iginla was a six time All Star who is one of only six players to score 30 goals in 11 consecutive seasons including 50 twice. He is also one of only 20 players to score 600 goals in his career and stands in elite company as one of only 34 with 1,300 points.
Though he never won a Stanley Cup, Iginla did lead the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004 and scored a goal in the 2002 Olympic gold medal game to lead Team Canada to its first championship in 50 years.
An elite offensive machine on the ice, 18-year NHL veteran Jarome Iginla is the model of consistency and professionalism, acknowledging Jesus Christ as his redeemer and example.
Smith-Pelly may never earn the reverence of Fuhr or Iginla, but what he did in this years Stanley Cup Playoffs is legendary. On the merits of his sprawling, game-tying goal in the cup clincher, some enterprising chef at Bens Chili Bowl would do well to create a half smoke which bears his name.
He let the world know that he had no plans to visit the White House if President Donald J. Trump invites the Capitals for a visit saying, “The things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist”.
Devante Smith-Pelly finished off a great effort from Jay Beagle in Washington’s first ever home win in a Stanley Cup Final.
In championship moments, youve got to walk it like you talk it. And during the Stanley Cup playoffs, Smith-Pelly did. His game tying goal may be lost in the hoopla of Chocolate Citys first championship on ice, but Washington doesnt win this Cup without his consistent brilliance.
Smith-Pelly was a physical, intimidating presence who scored clutch goals while striking fear into the heart of those in his area throughout the NHLs second season.
The Capitals have won more games in the league than any NHL team over the last decade. Despite winning consecutive Presidents Cups signifying the most points during the regular season and a first ballot Hall of Famer in Ovechkin there was apathy throughout the region.
Black fans were doubly disgusted by the early playoff exits and the consistent underachievement of the Wizards, who share the Capital One Arena with them.
Devante Smith-Pelly stays red hot, giving Washington a 3-0 lead in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
However, the run to the Stanley Cup has awakened a multicultural sports phenomenon that over 40 years ago was inconceivable. The Capitals will never resonate with as many fans as the NFL franchise, but the championship run has awakened a new passion for the team because that brother can play.
Groups of Black women crowded into sports bars rocking the red in packs as the march to the cup gathered steam. Black guys who would spend over $30 for hats and t-shirts to represent DC sports teams made investments in Caps swag and have been more comfortable sporting the citys NHL gear.
However, Smith-Pelly may have found his home. After stops in Montreal the town that ran P.K. Subban to Nashville and New Jersey who is reorganizing its front office he would appear to be the perfect lifetime Capital.
Devante Smith-Pelly ties up Game 5 in the third period.
DSP is being revered by a town that looks like him demographically, and his performance during these playoffs will earn his place amongst other Black sports icons in DC sports history.
His postseason exploits on the ice are the stuff of legend while his vehemence about not visiting the White House is something that has earned him a place in the soul of the community.