Washington Capitals Director of Hockey Operations Kris Wagner, along with his wife, Jenn, and children, Ty and Addie, pose with the Stanley Cup during its stop at Shanahan Middle School on Friday. Dillon Davis | The Gazette
On Friday, October 12, the Stanley Cup spent the day with Kris Wagner, the Capitals director of hockey operations, in Columbus, Ohio. (Reminder, you can find links to each and every “day with the Stanley Cup” that has already occurred right here.)
Wagner, who hails from the Youngstown area, began his journey to becoming the director of hockey operations for a world-champion organization at Kent State University, which at the time, had a Division I hockey program. After KSU dropped their hockey program, Wagner transferred to Bowling Green State University, where he majored in sports management.
In an interview with the Delaware Gazette, Wagner detailed how he became a member of the Washington Capitals:
When the time came to do an internship, Wagner said he applied to every United States franchise in the National Hockey League. With multiple offers in hand, he chose to intern with the Washington Capitals. What Wagner thought was simply an internship would ultimately lead to a world championship ring and his very own day with Lord Stanley’s Cup.
“I actually left,” Wagner said of the end of his internship. “On the Monday after I left, they called me back and asked, ‘Where’d you go?’
Upon reminding them his internship had ended, Wagner said he was asked to come back for a part-time position. From there, he moved up to a hockey operations assistant, then to the director of scouting operations. After Wagner and his wife, Jenn, had their two children, the family moved to Columbus while he was still traveling the world as the director of scouting operations.
After the Capitals changed management ahead of the 2014-15 season, Wagner was promoted to his current position as the director of hockey operations and capped off his 20th season with the franchise by hoisting the Stanley Cup last June.
“Perseverance is key,” he said. “We went to the Stanley Cup Finals within weeks of me starting my job (in 1998). I remember standing there, the Detroit Red Wings had won and were skating around with the Stanley Cup, and I thought, ‘this is easy. This year we made it and we lost, next year we’ll make it and we’ll win.’ That wasn’t the case. It took 20 more years. But I just kept at it, every person I worked with worked harder. You just stay at it.”
Wagner said his fondest memory of winning the finals was the parade that followed when the team returned home to Washington, D.C.
“It’s a wonderful, beautiful city, and to be able to go down Constitution Avenue with hundreds of thousands of people (attending), with my family, that was something special.”
With the 2018-19 season now underway, Wagner feels the experience of last season has the entire organization prepared to get back to the top.
Shanahan Middle School
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The Stanley Cup is the championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hockey League (NHL) playoff winner. Few people get the opportunity to see the Stanley Cup in person, making its recent appearance at Shanahan Middle School quite remarkable. The Washington Capitals are the current NHL champions, and it’s tradition in the league for each person in the winning team’s organization to receive a “Day with the Cup”. Olentangy parent Kris Wagner is the director of hockey operations for the Capitals. When it became his turn to host the Stanley Cup, Kris and his family decided to share their special day with the district. To turn the Stanley Cup appearance into a teachable moment, principal Joshua McDaniels hosted a pep assembly focused on perseverance—a Shanahan Middle School “Scout Way” characteristic. Teacher Ashlee Ralph shared her own story about hard work and perseverance and compared it to the hard work and perseverance it takes for hockey players to win the Stanley Cup. #oneolentangy #shanahanmiddleschool #washingtoncapitals #stanleycup #hockey #nhl
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PREVIOUS DAYS WITH THE CUP
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By Jon Sorensen