By Dion Johnson, Special to the AFRO
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonis and Capitals star captain Alex Ovechkin capped what has become the most legendary team, fan interactive week in D.C. sports history by visiting the Fort DuPont Ice Rink in Southeast, D.C.
And the best part about it—they brought the Stanley Cup with them.
The Washington Capitals, including Alex Ovechkin, from Russia, front left, cheer as they celebrate winning the hockey Stanley Cup during a victory rally for the Washington Capitals, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, on the National Mall in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Fort Dupont’s ice rink serves as the only full-sized indoor ice rink in the District, while simultaneously serving dozens of young, African-American children in the heart of their own neighborhood. Therefore, dozens of young Black kids were able to touch and feel the Stanley Cup, as well as meet with the hockey superstar, Ovechkin, themselves.
The Southeast D.C. ice rink is also the home of the Fort DuPont Cannons Ice Hockey Club, founded by Neal Henderson. Since the founding of the Cannons in 1978, it has become the oldest minority youth hockey program in North America. The Capitals have been longtime partners and supporters of Fort Dupont, with players occasionally dropping by the rink for Cannon practices.
Leonis told reporters that he hopes this championship will help attract more minorities to take up the sport.
“We have worked for years and years on ‘Hockey is for Everyone,’” said Leonsis. “Take all the work we do with scholarships, the work we do in trying to support youth hockey—it’s exemplary.”
Henderson echoed Leonis’ sentiments on attracting more Black youths to get into hockey.
“The Washington Capitals have brought it to a bigger scale,” Henderson told the media. “So with that in mind, you are going to get a bigger audience. Hopefully, the minorities will then see it and have the opportunity and seek to find out how they will be able to become involved.”