Stanley Cup Champions!! I never get tired of seeing it in print, re-watching the games as well as additional coverage, and following the players collective and individual celebrations with Lord Stanley.
Summer seems to be flying by, mainly because hockey filled a good portion of it. The team will be back to business in mid-September when they head back to town for training camp. The roster, by all indications, will look mostly the same as last season with the exception of Philipp Grubauer and Jay Beagle moving on to the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks respectively. Grubi is an amazing goalie who protected the net (and perhaps didn’t receive enough credit ) giving Braden Holtby the time for a much-needed rest and reset. He deserves to shine protecting his own net (hoping he takes over primary duties) and I wish him only the best.
Jay Beagle has and always will be one of my favorite hockey players. He wasn’t one of the “superstars” of the team yet he was one of the hardest working players who gave his all every shift whether it was on faceoffs, grinding teams down, or sacrificing his body to block shots on the penalty kill. Analysts have said his production is easily replaceable; perhaps it is. One Jay “Beagleism” that will be hard to replicate is his dedication to the fans. I have said before that Beagle and Holtby are what I consider fan ambassadors of the Washington Capitals who give so freely of their time to those that attend practice hoping to meet them, get a photo, or autograph. I myself was fortunate enough to have three encounters with him and each time was just as positive as the last.
When the Stadium Series sweater came out I initially wasn’t a fan. Seeing them at home games changed my mind; I just needed to decide whose number would be on mine. Number eighty-three came to mind mostly because in my heart I loved him as a player and person, yet my mind knew this was probably his last season in a Capitals’ sweater. On a whim I went to the last team practice of the regular season hoping to get his autograph on it. (why do I go on freezing days) Beags , dressed in shorts and flip-flops (I guess they never get cold) greeted, took photos, and signed anything anyone asked of them including my sweater, which I will always treasure.
When camp starts he will no longer be there to greet us. I’ve thought a lot these last couple of months on who could even remotely interact with the fans the way he has. My thoughts; Andre’ Burakovsky. I’ve met him once at Casino Night and he seemed genuinely happy to meet all of us. I have seen fans’ social media photos with him and he is always smiling. Who amongst us doesn’t love seeing “Uncle” Andre’ interacting with all his teammates little ones; especially Lucca and Rudy Carlson. It’s a great way for a younger player to develop and nurture his own following of fans who love the sport and the team. While losing the player we referred to as our top dog won’t be easy, who would you see trying to fill Jay Beagles’ skates?
On opening night in October I will be at Capital One Arena celebrating the team winning the Stanley Cup. It will be an emotional night for both the team and the fans who have been waiting to see the banner raised into the rafters for forty-four years. Jay Beagle won’t be on the ice in person, but he WILL be there in spirit as I plan on wearing his sweater to honor him. I encourage those that have a Beagle or Grubauer one to do the same. Bring your tissues!
By Lisa Desabrais