According to a report from Scott Allen of the Washington Post, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is personally purchasing Stanley Cup championship rings for more than 500 full-time employees. Traditionally, Cup rings are designated for players and coaching staff, so suffice it to say that this is a extremely generous offer from Leonsis and the Capitals’ ownership group.
You may recall that this isn’t the first time this year in which Leonsis has gone above and beyond for his employees. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs Leonsis surprised roughly 200 employees with a trip to Las Vegas, where they were put up in the Excalibur for one night and given a ticket to see the Capitals play the Vegas Golden Knights for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“I never expected an owner of the company to do this,” Capitals guest relations manager Omar Castro said at the time. “We get to share in this with them. … He’s thinking of us as part of a family, as part of the experience.”
Well, now that family is going to share some awfully expensive jewelry. More than 500 employees will be fitted for rings this week with delivery expected sometime in the fall. Admittedly, employee rings may not be as lavish as the ones reserved for players and coaches, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
You may recall that Pittsburgh Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle presented 150+ employees with Stanley Cup rings after the team’s 2017 Stanley Cup Championship, as well. NBA owner Dan Gilbert bought championship rings for more that 1,000 workers when his Cleveland Cavaliers won its first NBA title in 2016. Ditto for Houston Astros owner Jim Crane of MLB when his club won the World Series last year. Frankly, it’s a new trend in sport that we can get behind.
In the meantime, Capitals players have begun arriving at the team’s practice facility in Arlington, Virginia to prepare for the upcoming season. For the first time in their history the Capitals enter a season as defending Stanley Cup champions, as a result they’ll likely be confronted with new challenges. During the Alexander Ovechkin era the Capitals have traditionally been a strong, if not unassuming, regular season team. The Caps have missed the playoffs just once in the past ten seasons and look poised to top the Eastern Conference once again. Having said that, it’ll be interesting to see how the team deals with a shortened offseason and the brighter spotlight over the course of the upcoming 2018-19 season.