WASHINGTON - While the Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup celebration was on Tuesday, fans were gearing up for another event on Wednesday.
Devante Smith-Pelly was scheduled to make an appearance at the Dick’s Sporting Goods store on Grand Corner Avenue in Gaithersburg, Maryland between 5:30 and 7:30 in the evening.
CAPS VICTORY PARADE: Relive the best moments
At the Caps Victory Parade and Rally Tuesday, the crowd chanted his initials and pumped their fists as his teammates brushed off his shoulders.
Smith-Pelly enjoyed this championship celebration just two days before his 26th birthday.
WUSA9’s cameras captured the Canadian player rocking a specially made WWE belt on the way to the parade and rally.
Smith-Pelly had key roles in the Caps winning the Stanley Cup.
For some fans, he is also helping to change perceptions and break stereotypes.
“You’ve got African Americans that play hockey, that love hockey, love sports,” Alphonso Wilkins said.
Some fans said Smith-Pelly had his share of adversity but still came out on top.
Smith-Pelly’s name was first hurled into the spotlight in February. Four fans sitting next to the penalty box during a game in Chicago shouted racial slurs.
The people implied Smith-Pelly he was in the wrong sport by repeatedly chanting ‘basketball.’
“It’s sad that it's 2018 we’re still talking about the same thing,” Smith-Pelly said at the time.
The fans apologized and raised nearly $20,000 in donations for the Fort Dupont Ice Rink in Southeast D.C.
Smith-Pelly had to fight for his spot.
“He was on seven different teams,” Sports Director Darren Haynes said during WUSA9’s live parade broadcast. “He just made the cut to get into this Capitals team.”
He only scored a little over a half dozen goals the entire regular season, but in the postseason, #25 shined by scoring seven goals.
“He hit his stride at the right time,” Randy Staples explained.
“It also opens the door to let young black, African Americans know that, ‘Hey I can do this,’" Wilkins said.
“People of color can play hockey and not only get into the league but also thrive and play at a high level,” Jody O’Keefe said.
Smith-Pelly said he’d been dreaming about the win since he was a little kid.