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Postseason = Parade Season: Some of the Most Memorable Stanley Cup Winner Celebrations

A parade is something that screams summer. Nothing is more fun than gathering with others to socialize and celebrate during the hot summer months, especially when the gatherings revolve around sports. With the closing of the Stanley Cup coming soon, the winning team has planned a sure-to-be epic parade or celebration. Here are some memorable parades that will go down as legendary in NHL history.


2020 & 2021: The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boat Rallies

Courtesy of WUSF.org

In 2020 and 2021, the Tampa Bay Lightning won back to back Stanley Cups, being the second team in this millennium to accomplish that rare feat. With all the effort the players put in, the celebration had to be huge. Being from Florida, which is not traditionally known as a hockey state, the Lightning had to get creative to find something that would connect Florida’s culture and the NHL’s most coveted trophy.


Enter the boat rallies: instead of doing a traditional parade on the street, the Bolts decided to take to the Hillsborough River and Tampa Bay. Players, team staff, fans, and even the mayor flocked the river and the bay on everything from large yachts to jet skis. Even in 2021, when it was raining the day of the boat rally, everyone still went “back to boat,” according to the t-shirts that Captain Steven Stamkos wore. Rain or shine, the boat rallies were a celebration of the team’s success in a true Florida fashion.



2018: The Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin’s Speech

Courtesy of Patrick McDermott

In 2018, the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Achieving such a milestone called for quite a celebration and the opportunity to give a speech worthy of being remembered. The Caps had a party at the National Mall with thousands of cheering fans in attendance. As the captain of the team and arguably one of the most talented hockey players of his generation, fans were excited for Alex Ovechkin’s speech.


He began by thanking the fans on behalf of his teammates and their families, saying “thanks babes” and that they were “killing it.” After thanking the general manager and the coaching staff, Ovechkin led his teammates and the fans in singing “We Are The Champions” by Queen. At the end of the chorus, Ovechkin motioned for the music to be turned down. Then, he concluded his speech: 


“At the beginning of this year, I said, well us said ‘we’re not gonna f**king suck this year!’ [Now] We’re Stanley Cup Champions!...It’s yours, boys and girls and birds, LET’S GO!”

The crowd erupted into cheers. This electric moment in the nation’s capital has been regarded by many hockey fans as the “greatest sports speech of all time.”


2022: The Colorado Avalanche and Bowen Byram’s Police Incident

Courtesy of Trevor Crawley

In 2022, the Colorado Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup in over 20 years. The Avs planned a huge celebration on the streets of Denver. According to the Denver Post, over 500,000 fans were in attendance. Now, there were plenty of memorable moments from this parade, from Gabriel Landeskog’s wild, shirtless speech to Nazem Kadri’s infamous “Too Many Men” shirt. But, the moment that fans will never forget was yet to come.


Sometime during the middle of the parade, then 21-year-old defenseman Bowen Byram got separated from the rest of his teammates. He was caught up in the excitement of the crowd and had gone out to greet the fans. However, when Byram tried to rejoin his teammates on the streets, he was stopped by a police officer, who thought he was just a crazy fan who was trying to sneak past the barricades. After pushing Byram back into the crowd several times, it was only when fans started yelling, “he’s a player” that the officer realized his mistake.  


1997 & 1998: The Detroit Red Wings and the Million Fan March

Courtesy of Detroit Free Press

When the hometown team wins the biggest prize in the NHL, everyone in town has a reason to celebrate. Or, in this case, one-tenth of Michigan’s population, making it one of the most attended parades in the state’s history. In 1997, after a spectacular season, the Detroit Red Wings ended their 42-year Stanley Cup drought and finally got to hoist the trophy again.


About 12 hours after their grand victory, the Red Wings reassembled in downtown Detroit to host what the Detroit Free Press has called “the mother of all victory parades.” Anyone and everyone was invited to attend, no tickets required. 1 million people filled the streets of Detroit, with some fans even climbing trees to get a better view of the players and the Stanley Cup. With picturesque, 80-degree, sunny weather, the parade was a perfect way to kick off the summer.


In the book “Stanleytown: 25 Years Later,” then-captain Steve Yzerman declared, “It was the icing on the cake, and I’ll never forget it.” And, when the Red Wings won again in 1998, 1.2 million fans showed up, surpassing the previous year’s attendance.


Though they may seem like just a gathering, these parades add a special touch to the NHL’s rich history surrounding the Stanley Cup, proving that winning is not only special to the team, but to the fans as well. As this season ends, it is certain the winning team already has an awesome celebration in the works that will be talked about for years to come. 




Edited by Emma Habel


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