RODOVRE, Denmark — Lars Eller had his day with the Stanley Cup on Wednesday, and it was a historic one.
Eller became the first player to bring the Cup to Denmark, something the Washington Capitals forward had been dreaming about for a while.
“I’ve been trying to picture this day for a long time, but I couldn’t imagine this,” said Eller, the first Denmark-born player to win the Stanley Cup. “It’s unbelievable to see all of you guys here.”
Eller, born and raised in Rodovre, a district in Copenhagen, started his day by celebrating with family and friends. By the time he arrived at the square outside Rodovre Town Hall, hundreds of people from all over Denmark, a country known mostly for soccer and handball, had gathered together to celebrate with him.
“It’s a big day for me, for Rodovre, for Danish hockey and for Danish sports in general,” said Eller, who scored the game-winning goal in the Capitals’ Cup-clinching victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. “I’m having 24 hours with Stanley, and to share this with my family, friends and the city is something I’ve been looking forward to since I hoisted it for the first time in Las Vegas.
“Obviously I wanted to share this with the people in Rodovre but of course, also the whole country. I’m thrilled there are so many from outside Rodovre too.”
Once the celebration at town hall ended, Eller jumped into a convertible with the Cup and began a slow drive to his hometown rink. Fans lined the street, taking photos, getting autographs and singing songs about their hometown champion.
Inside the arena, there were chants and a celebration that concluded his day.
Eller, 29, has played 604 NHL games with the St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens and Capitals. He hopes young fans in Denmark were inspired seeing the Cup.
“I want to tell all the young kids to keep dreaming,” Eller said. “Now somebody from Denmark has won it and I want them to see that it’s possible to fulfill that dream if you are dedicated enough.”
The day had a lasting impression on Eller, too.
“It has been a fantastic and memorable day for me that I will never forget,” he said.