When the Stanley Cup was in the Capitol, true Washington Capitals fans stood apart from other hockey fans taking a quick break from their jobs during a recess day to see the famous trophy.
Many were wearing their allegiance on their chest.
The cup routinely makes rounds in the offices of the representatives from the state whose team won the National Hockey League championship that year. The Capitals won their first-ever championship in June, 4-1, over the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton hosted the cup in her office.
Joy Erupts on Washingtonian's Faces as Stanley Cup Arrives on Capitol Hill
“The way the Caps have kept this going by taking this cup to every place they can think of matters, and it matters to us a great deal, that they understood one place to bring it was the Capitol of the United States and bring it to the office of the member who represents the Caps,” Norton said.
Her office in the Rayburn House Office Building was open to the public on Wednesday morning for Washingtonians and staffers to see it.
“I don’t use the word ‘thrill’ very often, but when you have a team that has never won the big prize here, the Stanley Cup, that’s what it is. I think we showed it today when we made the cup available for residents and the staff of the Congress,” she said. “It really means a lot to this city, which is often not treated well and certainly not treated equally. This time we’ve been more than equal, we’ve won the Stanley Cup.”
The most energetic fans arrived at Norton’s office by 9:15 a.m. to line up.
“C-A-P-S, Caps! Caps! Caps!” they chanted in line, decked out in red. Two young boys had a Stanley Cup made out of aluminum foil with them.
By 9:30 a.m., about 30 people were in line. Norton’s office first had Capitol Police officers file through to take photos with the cup. Then, around 9:40 a.m., the public was welcomed inside.
The congresswoman acknowledged that staffers who came through may not have been D.C. hockey fans, specifically.
“I was not surprised that there were a lot of Caps fans right here in the Congress because there’s a lot of sports fans period, and when you see, you got a team that won for the first time, many of these people were here in the region, I knew they were not going to pass up the opportunity to see that cup,” Norton said.
“Bye, Stanley Cup!” a mom said leaving the congresswoman’s office. Her young son waved goodbye.
“Same time next year, Stanley,” another visitor said.
“Want to touch it? You can touch it,” Norton’s communications director Benjamin Fritsch said repeatedly as he offered to take photos of visitors with the cup. That was acceptable, but for hockey players, touching the cup without earning it is bad luck.
Mike Bolt, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Keeper of the Cup, put on white gloves to pick up the cup for three kids to pose with it.
Later, another visitor asked “Can we lift it?” Bolt replied: “You can when you win it.”
The cup was 35 pounds before the Capitals’ and their players’ names were added to it. Now it weighs 37½ pounds. Bolt said the weight gain was due to some added metal.
Norton said she was fascinated by how large it was.
“I think in a real sense symbolizes for us how huge is the victory,” she said.
“Make the Caps great again!” a fan said leaving the office.
Two men came in with a Capitals bobblehead, towel, both wearing Capitals shirts and one wearing a sparkly red blazer.
Most of the visitors after 10 a.m. were staffers and interns.
“We're going to boot you out,” one staffer joked when a visitor said he wasn't a Caps fan but wanted to see the cup to see his team listed on it from winning it previously.
At times a group would come in, take a photo together, then the one person in the crew from the D.C. area would take a photo alone with it.
“Still smells like beer,” one visitor said. Another asked while looking inside, “Is there any caviar left?”
Just after 11 a.m., Bolt packed away the cup in a trunk and moved, with a police escort, to the Cannon House Office Building for a briefing on shifting demographics and hockey’s future from the NHL’s Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs office.
“I’ve only just become a Caps fan. I’m like a lot of Washingtonians,” Norton said before the briefing.
She touted Southwest D.C.’s Fort DuPont ice rink in helping to make the sport more popular among locals.
“I am certainly hoping that the advantage we have of having an actual ice arena here where you can play free if you’re a kid in D.C., where, by the way, lots of kids do so, will spread the sport – I hear – even more,” she said.
At the briefing, Norton noted: “This is really Caps day in the Capitol.”
Representatives from the NHL thanked the members of Congress who are part of the Congressional Hockey Caucus, which include Norton.
“I’ve been a longtime member of the Congressional Hockey Caucus and hoped that this day would come, and it certainly has come,” the congresswoman said. “I particularly appreciate that you’re making the most of it but using this championship by bringing more minority youth to hockey.”
Everyone who attended the briefing was welcome to take a photograph with the cup following the briefing. Then, Bolt packed it up for its next stop.
It sat on display for fans in Room 137, hosted by the leadership office of Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. Only employees of the Capitol or visitors who were escorted by staffers with a pass could see it on the first floor of the House side of the Capitol.
The scene was much busier outside the room and inside, less intimate than in Norton’s smaller office.
Hundreds of people were in line to wait for the doors to open at 2 p.m. Capitol Police officers and Capitol custodians were inside the room taking photos before visitors entered.
Capitals highlights played on a monitor in the room while visitors in small groups filtered in and could take individual photos with the cup.
By 2:15 p.m., the line extended back to Crypt, in the center of the Capitol building. Similar to the scene outside of Norton’s office, about a fourth of them were wearing Capitals jerseys.
Watch: Hoyer Celebrates Caps Win on House Floor