NoVa Caps contributor, Scott Zweibel pens a heartfelt letter to Braden that speaks for us all. “Thank you Braden Holtby, for giving us all hope.”
Please do not lose faith in us. Regardless of what you glean from this letter, please do not give up on the men in front of you; and the men, women, and children that love the Washington Capitals. You became our rock this season. You evolved into the top-tier netminder that the Capitals have always sought since the decline and unsavory expulsion of Olie Kolzig. Braden, you are (in the most simple of terms), a savior and a foundation piece to build towards this franchise’s greatest success.
I know that this years’ team (especially the defense) failed you down the stretch and in the playoffs. You should have been able to own the single-season record for wins outright and it was the team that faltered. Then in the playoffs it was obvious to me (and your opponents) that 5-on-5 play was lacking, that coverages were being missed, and that zone exits were lackluster. You kept the same focused stare through it all. I (we) applaud your steel resolve and stoic ability to look past the immediate faults and still power forward to lift the team up. You did this, you proved capable, willing, and true to task. We let you down, and we are truly sorry.
When the Capitals extended your contract with new (long) term and dollars worthy of your status in the NHL, many wondered if you would make the leap from “highly-touted and certainly talented goaltending prospect” to “other-worldly savior capable of solidifying a starting job on an elite team.” Not only did you make this jump to the next level, you took ownership of your abilities and made an argument to supplant all other top goalies (most notably Lundqvist, Price, Quick, and Crawford). This was your doing, and your destiny. With that work ethic, your acceptance of the training under Mitch Korn, and the calm you bring to the position; you are giving the Capitals the chance they need to win every night. It simply was not you, it was everyone else that faltered.
I know your Zen-like ability to move forward and not lament will easily accept what is next, what this team has to do to be better and compete on the next level. You are strong and I applaud your willingness to not point fingers at the poorly timed screens, the shot-block attempts that resulted in bouncing pucks or bad luck goals, and the untimely coverages that were blown. As a goalie myself, there is a quick-fire judgement to blame someone in front of you, or to curse the Gods as to ‘why?’ Though you never do. You lock your stare on the next puck, and the next moment; all-the-while bearing a burden that few hockey players (and certainly hockey fans) will ever understand.
I know that feeling Braden. The puck got past you. You (we) are given the task to defend a thin red line and a 6 foot by 4 foot gap in space. In a world where only the scoreboard matters, the puck got past you. This feeling is a burning, a white-hot flesh searing, and shock inducing pain that never really goes away. I tend to believe on some level that in the span of time winning calms this pain, and certainly winning it ALL would prove to be the balm of the soul that would validate living with such a hurt (burden). As a goalie, as a Capitals fan, and as someone in awe of your game (your ability) I long for this relief for you, for me, and everyone we love in this hockey family.
I would just like to ask that you continue what you are doing. Please look forward to that next shot attempt, and that next call to defend the net for the Capitals. Where yesterday we faltered in front of you, today we dust ourselves off, so that tomorrow we can all go to work to NOT fail. You are doing your job, and doing it very well indeed.
Braden Holtby you have nothing to hang your head upon. Seeing you sprawled on the ice last night as the vanquished combatant brought a feeling of emptiness and heartache into me. First because the Capitals lost, and almost as important because THEY let you down. You give your all, and yet you didn’t get the same in return. So please, let the past be, just be ready for the excitement and opportunity in the future.
Photo: Justin Aller
Thank you for the 48 wins tying an NHL record. Thank you for the playoff wins. Thank you for the dazzling saves, and the routine ones. Thank you for your focus and your determination. Thank you for committing to the Capitals despite their faults. Thank you for pushing yourself to be better so that we can all reach some kind of glory that we have never reached before.
Video by: RyanTheBeast29 – subscribe to Ryan’s YouTube Channel.
I stand by my assertion that teams win the Stanley Cup from the goalie on out. We have the goalie we want, the one. The Capitals need to fill 1-2 issues on the defense, even before they can address secondary scoring and 5-on-5 play in the playoffs. However, with you in net, they are free to address everything else.
Thank you Braden Holtby, for giving us all hope.
LET’S GO CAPS!
By Scott Zweibel