For nine seasons, defenseman Karl Alzner provided the Capitals with a steady presence on the blueline, consistently shutting down the opposition’s best players. When the 2017-18 Capitals took the ice for their home opener tonight, they did so without the longtime blueliner, who, as a result of salary cap constraints, was forced to sign elsewhere this offseason. Ironically, Alzner took the ice, but as a member of the visiting Montreal Canadiens. And in an emotional return, the Caps honored the “Iron Man” with a fitting tribute.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 7, 2017
Drafted by the Caps with the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Alzner was a steadying presence on the backend, and played in 591 games in a Capitals sweater, scoring 19 goals, 98 assists, and 117 points with a plus-61 rating. He earned the title of the Capitals’ Iron Man after he reached the 500 consecutive games played plateau in the 2015-16 season. Alzner ranks 20th in franchise history in games played (eighth among defensemen), fifth among defensemen in plus/minus, ninth in defensive point shares (number of points a player contribute via his defensive play), and averaged 20:12 of ice time a night during his time in Washington.
But Alzner’s presence was not just felt on the ice. Off the ice, the popular blueliner was a huge participant in charitable events and activities hosted by the team, and his humble personality made him a fan favorite. While it was all but inevitable that he would depart in free agency this past July, the loss was certainly a tough one to swallow. While there have been other defensemen on the Capitals over the last 10 years that have played important roles, there’s no denying the fact that Alzner was the blueline’s rock. And while he never put up huge offensive numbers like that of fellow rearguards Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov, Alzner contributed by consistently shutting down opponents and protecting the Caps’ netminders.
So when the Capital One Arena crowd rose to their feet to salute the team’s longtime Iron Man, it was a fitting and deserving tribute to a man who gave 120% both on and off the ice. Karl left a legacy that will always be cherished by Capitals fans and teammates alike, one of a hard work ethic and dedication. During his time in Washington, Alzner was the type of player every team should want to have: selfless, dedicated, and hard-working. And while he may play for another organization, he will always be a Washington Capital. Welcome back Karl and Thank You!
By Michael Fleetwood