Red Reflection: Despite the Playoff Failures, the Young Guns Era Certainly Left Me With Some Memories

91971796Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

I have been a Capitals fan all my life ( I was born just days after the Capitals lost Game 4 of the 1998 Stanley Cup Final) and while I may not remember the first Caps game I ever saw on television, there have certainly been a number of memorable games over the years that have been firmly imprinted in my memory. Many of those games during what was dubbed the “Young Guns” era in Washington, a time when the Caps’ core of a young Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and former Capitals Alexander Semin and Mike Green dominated the league with a high-flying offense and a flair for the dramatic. And while those years always resulted in playoff disappointment, I wouldn’t trade any of those (good) memories for anything.

Perhaps the reason those seasons were so memorable is the memories I have of celebrating goals with my family or big moments such as comebacks, or perhaps, at times, it was the significance of the games (the 2011 Winter Classic is just one such game). The Capitals certainly played some of the most exciting hockey the NHL had seen in years with the offensive prowess of Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Green, and a supporting cast that included Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann, Mike Knuble, and Brooks Laich (among many others). The first game I ever attended was on December 4, 2010, when the Caps hosted the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets); they would lose 3-1 but the highlight of the game was celebrating Ovechkin’s goal with my family members who were with me.

Of all the games I watched the Capitals teams of the Young Guns era play, none was more memorable than the team’s 4-3 come-from-behind win against the Chicago Blackhawks on March 14, 2010. After Ovechkin was ejected from the game from boarding then-Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell (a play he would be suspended two games for), the Capitals found themselves down 3-0, only to score three goals in the third period to force overtime. I still vividly remember celebrating Backstrom’s (who led the comeback with a goal in regulation and the overtime winner) overtime winner with my dad and brother, and delighting in watching the stunned reactions of the Blackhawks fans in attendance.

Despite their regular season success, the Capitals could never reach the ultimate goal of lifting Lord Stanley’s prized chalice above their heads with the core of Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, and Green. Their first round Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in 2010 still remains one of the biggest disappointments in my time as a Caps fan. But despite these playoff failures, the good memories kept me hopeful that better things were to come for the Young Guns core in the future. And while the Caps have yet to win the Stanley Cup, I still remain as loyal as ever to the team I love. And thanks to the Young Guns era, the memories I have will continue to fuel the passion I have for the Capitals.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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5 Responses to Red Reflection: Despite the Playoff Failures, the Young Guns Era Certainly Left Me With Some Memories

  1. Pingback: Capitals Alumni Profile: Brian Pothier | NoVa Caps

  2. Diane Doyle says:

    I enjoyed reading this article. An era I remember well. The “Young Guns” essentially represented the “coming of age” of my elder child who was a few months older than Ovi (and nearly a year after Semin). If the astrologers were right, she and Semin were very similar in that department (Pisces with Moon in Pisces) and I could see similarities in them. The friendship of Ovi and Semin reminded me of one of her friendships. One of her grade school friends was born 6 days after Ovi. I would watch the parallels in the lives of my first born and the Young Guns. She was in a different country from her birth, too, ending up in Ireland. But wanted to come back to DC area to celebrate her 30th birthday and we planned a big celebration. So at it turns out, her 30th birthday celebration turned out to be an engagement party for her as her fiance had proposed. So a few months later I learned that Ovi was delaying his return to DC from Russia so he could celebrate his 30th birthday with them and, next thing you know, his 30th birthday party ends up being an engagement party, too.

    Like

  3. Ron Bove says:

    You certainly brought back some great memories of the past and I, like you, am sure they are going to go for the cup very soon. LET’S GO CAPS

    Like

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