In years past, early October signaled the beginning of the NHL season across North America. Oct. 5, 2005, in Washington signaled a new era of Capitals hockey led by a top overall pick that would become a generational superstar.
Fifteen years ago on Monday, in a debut delayed a year due to a lockout, Alex Ovechkin made quite an impact in his first NHL game in the nation’s capital, scoring 2 goals in a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. He would go on to net 52 goals that season, good enough to take home the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie.
Ovi’s immediate impact has continued for 15 seasons since that debut, to the tune of over 700 goals, 11 All-Star selections, three Hart trophies and most importantly a Stanley Cup title. On Monday, the team and its owner, Ted Leonsis, celebrated their star player.
“15 years ago today was Alex Ovechkin’s first game played in D.C. with the Capitals,” team owner Ted Leonsis wrote on social media. “I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Ironically, Oct. 5 marks the NHL debut for Ovi’s top rival as well. Sidney Crosby made his NHL debut for the Penguins 15-years ago Monday, tallying an assist in a Pittsburgh loss at New Jersey. Their first head-to-head meeting wouldn’t come until Nov. 22 of that year, and since then only 15 points separate the two superstars over their career (Ovechkin with the slight edge, of course!).