Braden Holtby

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For Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, 250 isn't just another number

For Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, 250 isn't just another number

Braden Holtby became the second-fastest goalie to reach 250 career victories when the Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 on Wednesday. 

Holtby needed just 409 games to get there. Only Hall of Famer Ken Dryden did it faster (381). Holtby accomplished it before Jacques Plante (430), like Dryden a Hall of Famer who played for Montreal, and multiple-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Osgood (450).

“It’s pretty crazy when you think about it, but I’ve been pretty fortunate to play on some really good teams,” Holtby said. “Wins is a stat that is shared with your whole team and is a consistency thing in the regular season so it shows the commitment we’ve had in this organization. Hopefully we can continue that.”  

Over the past six games, Holtby has solidified his game. He has a .921 save percentage with 163 saves on 177 shots. It’s all about ramping up for the playoffs, which start in five weeks. He has started six of Washington’s last seven games. 

Only Olie Kolzig (303) has more wins in franchise history. Holtby is 12 wins away from moving into the top-50 all time. At age 29, he has one year left on his contract with the Capitals after this season and it’s unclear what the future holds. Holtby is in the fourth year of a five-year, $30.5 million contract signed in 2015. 

But that’s still far enough down the road that the Capitals can focus on defending their Stanley Cup title. Unlike last year, Holtby will be the starter when the playoffs begin the second week of April.  

“[Holtby] was great out there and he’s been great for us for so many years,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. “It’s impressive. For us as players we’re so happy for him and for us as players we’re so proud of him and happy for him. Second goalie to reach that milestone. That says it all about him. How important he is for us and the franchise.”

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Bradley Beal's childhood idol Dwyane Wade thinks he could be one of the next great guards

Bradley Beal's childhood idol Dwyane Wade thinks he could be one of the next great guards

CHARLOTTE -- The 2019 NBA All-Star Game will be the final one for Dwyane Wade, who is months away from riding off into the prismatic Miami sunset as one of the greatest players in the league’s history. He will go down as one of the best shooting guards of all-time, ranked somewhere behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

With Wade gearing up for his exit, the logical question is who is next? Who will carry on the legacy of great shooting guards?

When Wade entered the league in 2003, Bryant was the top two in the game. When Bryant debuted in 1996, Jordan was just a few years from calling it a career.

The answer to who’s next after Wade may have shared the stage at Bojangles Coliseum on Saturday at All-Star media day, but deciding who is complicated. The best choices either aren’t seen solely as shooting guards, or they haven’t accomplished enough to be considered the heir apparent.

James Harden certainly comes to mind first. The 2017-18 NBA MVP is clearly on his way to all-time greatness. But he plays more point guard than Wade, Jordan or Bryant ever did.

After Harden, there is a group of twos that should be in the mix. Klay Thompson of the Warriors is establishing a Hall of Fame career. Victor Oladipo was All-NBA and All-Defense last season. And Devin Booker of the Suns is just scratching the surface of his potential.

Then, there’s Bradley Beal of the Wizards. Beal wears No. 3 in part because he idolized Wade growing up. He is now a two-time All-Star and has some similarities to Wade in his game and his athletic build.

Wade was asked about the next generation of great shooting guards at media day and made an interesting point. He believes we will all know in due time who will take the mantle because that’s how the game has played out for generations.

“You don’t pass the torch, guys take the torch. Like, Kobe didn’t pass the torch to me. Ray Allen didn’t pass the torch to me,” Wade said.

“I’m not passing no torch to James or to Brad, they’re taking the torch. Them guys are unbelievable players.”

Beal, 25, is having a season that compares statistically to some of Wade’s NBA prime. Beal is averaging 25.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

From age 23 through 30, Wade put up 26.2 points, 6.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. Wade, though, had some years mixed in that are on a level Beal has yet to reach. He averaged 27 points or more three times, six assists or more six times and regularly averaged more than a steal and a block per game.

That’s not to mention Wade’s playoff numbers and the fact he won three NBA titles. Beal said it himself at media day, that he has “a long way to go.”

But Beal is on the short-list of best shooting guards in today’s game. And maybe he can be the one, or one of the players to someday inspire a new generation.

Wade, 37, has been around long enough to see the cycle of NBA history play out and knows guys like Beal, Harden, Oladipo, Thompson and Booker have a responsibility to follow the same lead others set for him.

“There is a bar that is set when you come in [to the league] and you try to reach that bar and hopefully get over it and set another standard and set another bar,” Wade said.

“Those guys do the same thing, they jump over it. That’s how our game continues to get great and continues to get better, so no passing no torch. They’re taking it.”

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Encouraged by his wife, Braden Holtby continues actively championing the LGBTQ community

Encouraged by his wife, Braden Holtby continues actively championing the LGBTQ community

ARLINGTON – For Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and his wife, Brandi, it was a small gesture, but one they hope has an outsized impact because of who he is and the sport he plays. 

Speaking at the annual Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington on Sept. 18, the Holtbys continued their support of the LGBTQ community when he introduced figure skater Adam Rippon, the first openly gay skater to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. That support is crystalized during Hockey is for Everyone month, a time of added attention to initiatives that foster social change through and in the sport.

The Holtbys have long been part of that work – and not just during February. Hockey is a sport where diversity is lacking. That’s changing at the grass roots level as it takes off in bigger American cities and it’s there the Holtbys figure they can make a difference.

“You can definitely see there’s changes being made to people’s mindset and the main thing is you want to impact the youth,” Braden Holtby said. “You want to hit that ground level so there’s respect paid from Day 1 for a person’s life and realize the importance of it. Don’t do something you don’t understand and will regret later.”

It’s something Brandi has always keenly felt growing up and helped her husband understand. On a trip to San Francisco for their honeymoon, the couple walked into an HRC Action Center and Store in a house once owned by Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California as a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors. Milk, whose home and camera shop were located in the heart of the Castro District in San Francisco, was assassinated in 1978.  

The Holtbys spent a few hours talking with volunteers and learning about the organization. You might have seen the ubiquitous blue stickers with yellow stripes signifying an equals sign on cars throughout the D.C. region and the country. HRC is the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group in the country.    

“I’ve never really been a guy for the spotlight or anything like that,” Holtby said. “I didn’t do enough early on in my career and my wife has been the one to push me to use that a bit more because you can use that for good.” 

The Holtbys showed their support in other ways. They have twice marched in the Capital Pride Parade and three times attended the Capital Pride Festival, which it is a part of. Last year Holtby was celebrating the Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory and couldn’t make the parade, but he was at the national dinner in September at the Washington Convention Center. It’s all part of starting a conversation in the sport about LGBTQ issues.  

“Especially with LGBT rights and everything it’s not a weird thing any more, people understand it better,” Holtby said. “That shows through in inclusion and it shows through in the way people live their lives. Having that empathy, it’s something you may not have thought of, especially if you grow up and play hockey your whole life and there’s one way to do things. We want people to think on a broader spectrum.”

Holtby said that trip to San Francisco early in their marriage was just the introduction to HRC, but that Brandi had always thought the issue of LGBT rights merited her support.   

“You know different people, you meet different people, whether family or otherwise, and you hear stories that you didn’t think actually happened and you don’t think is right,” Holtby said. “And that’s a big reason why she wants to push those the right way so people have a little more kindness and empathy. It’s just a small part, but hopefully if you can effect a couple people – especially the way the world is today – I think it’s good.” 

If reaching young hockey players is the main goal, the topic of LGBTQ issues can still come up organically in an NHL dressing room, too. Holtby was proud that three Capitals teammates – Brett Connolly, Chandler Stephenson and Nathan Walker – came to the HRC dinner where he made the introductory. They all had a preseason game the next day, but made the effort anyway to support Holtby and support the cause. There is strength in numbers. 

“I feel like we’re just doing our part. But it means a lot to people, especially when you see us marching in the parade here and the support that the Capitals have given, too,” Holtby said. “It means a lot for fans, especially, to know that they’re included and they’re included in our team as well no mater what their circumstances are. We’re all a family and a hockey community and we want to see that out.” 

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