I’m not 100% sure how you go about paying tribute to a guy who has done so much for an organization, but I’m sure going to try. Karl Alzner, Washington’s 1st round pick (#5 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, is departing, and it hurts.
After a wildly successful tenure with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, Alzner joined the Bears for 48 games and the Capitals for 30 games during the 2008-2009 season. If you know a thing or two about hockey, you know it’s incredibly difficult to find many defensemen who end up in the NHL without a few years of “seasoning” in the AHL and/or ECHL as well no matter how many injury recalls there are. Even Alzner admitted that he wasn’t sure he’d ever break into the NHL, but we’re sure glad he did.
The following year, Alzner once again split time with the Bears and Capitals. He recorded three goals and 18 assists with the Bears in 56 games as well as five assists with the Caps in 21 games.
Additionally, since he split time between the NHL and AHL both seasons, Alzner was on Hershey’s roster for the back-to-back Calder Cup Championships of 2009 and 2010.
By 2010-2011 though, Alzner was full-time with the Capitals and remained that way through 2017. All said, he has appeared in a whopping 591 regular season NHL games. He has 19 goals and 98 assists in the regular season. Additionally, he’s appeared in 64 playoff games for the Capitals with three goals and eight assists.
He has played in every regular season game for the Capitals six times over the course of nine years. On January 13, 2017, Alzner played in his 500th consecutive game, a feat only 23 other players have accomplished. Fans paid tribute to the “Iron Man” blue liner with a banner at Kettler and a tribute video or two popped up on YouTube as well.
As the clocked ticked closer to noon on July 1, 2017, many Caps fans had already resigned themselves to the inevitable – Alzner would be signing somewhere else and would play for an organization other than the one that drafted him for the first time. Leading up to July 1, it was apparent that the Capitals would not have the cap space to keep Alzner, and tweets started to emerge foretelling Alzner’s signing with the Montreal Canadiens.
So, it’s with a heavy heart and immense gratitude that we pay tribute to Alzner and wish him luck next year. It’s been a heck of a ride, one we weren’t really ready to see end. We understand that the time has come for Alzner to spread his wings and leave our nest, but it’s hard to see a classy guy like Alzner leave.
Throughout the day, fans have shared their memories of Alzner on and off the ice.
Cory shared, via Tweet, “At a charity event at Blue Dolphin, he was there and was about to go on stage, and I didn’t realize it and had wanted an autograph. As he was walking towards the stage, I had thought that was a perfect time, ignorant that he had somewhere to be. With hat and marker in hand, I walked quickly behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around quizzically and saw me smiling as he saw the pen and hat. I asked if he wouldn’t mind signing my hat for me. He stopped, in front of a crowd of about 100 people, took my hat and signed it for me. When he was done I thanked him and he shook my hand. It was then I saw him walk up there and take the microphone, and I realized just how special that was. He had stopped in the middle of an event to acknowledge a fan. He was legitimately one of the nicest and best people I’d ever met. I wish nothing but the best for him in Montreal.”
Angela had a similar experience with Alzner, sharing with me via Facebook – “When I met him and asked him to sign my jersey he very casually said yes and then I put it in front of him and he said, ‘This is me. You picked me.’ When he signed the photo it said, ‘Thanks for picking me.’ I picked him because if a defenseman is doing his job, you don’t really notice him. At that moment it was clear that he doesn’t play hockey for the fans. He plays for the love of the sport.”
As if those moments wouldn’t make anyone love the guy, he also has shared some of his doggie parenting skills with fans, which was one of the most often commented memory.
The dogs tearing up his house during the overtime game and Karl’s reaction 🙂
— PuckNutz (@JonItBe) July 1, 2017
— Marge (@Margefro87) July 1, 2017
Always classy, Alzner never hesitated to make fans feel special.
Such a great guy! Can never forget meeting him and having him sign my hat❤️ pic.twitter.com/2woPwNwQ0P
— Vanessa Janet (@capsaddict) July 1, 2017
He was a great neighbor too!
He lives in my neighborhood, just fun seeing him around. Walking dogs, taking kids to park, riding his scooter. Glad MTL is our 2nd team.
— Marissa R (@Rink_Mama) July 1, 2017
He made first time visitors want to return often!
He’s one of the first guys I met, my first time going to a practice. He was so kind. pic.twitter.com/QvQ3QkvmYt
— N (@darthrami) July 1, 2017
Who can forget Casino Night?
— Dana Ziegler (@danadaniello) July 1, 2017
He even took an interest in photography.
— Marge (@Margefro87) July 1, 2017
Walking the Red Carpet…
Getting to walk with Alzner in the first Rock the Red Carpet event. Best day ever. pic.twitter.com/avUlm1b7Mw
— Brighid (@Brighid68) July 1, 2017
And those on-ice memories…
skating past me at warmups and being so nice to everyone pic.twitter.com/Ch5g6xGUxN
— Sav 🥀 (@stylishholtby) July 1, 2017
We’re going to miss him…
I think I was at a game when he scored a goal. It was the game after the one where Ovi scored goal no. 500.
— CheerKnitHanson (@CheerKnitHanson) July 1, 2017
And I’m pretty sure many fans are going to keep tabs on Alzner’s career, his family, and, of course, his dogs!
By Julie Beidler
A special thanks to all who have and will continue to share memories!