Jason Chimera is a 37-year-old veteran who's played a lot of hockey in his career, spending seven years as a Capital.
So when he left Washington in free agency this summer to sign a two-year deal with the New York Islanders, it was obviously a change for the player and the fans who'd come to love him.
"The Ice Cheetah," as he was known among his teammates, didn't have to wait long to play in front of the Verizon Center crowd. The Islanders traveled to Washington for their second game of the season. It also happened to be the Capitals home opener.
The organization wasn't going to let Chimera's presence go unmarked, so the team played a warm tribute video as he took the ice in the first period. Cheering filled the arena.
The Capitals ended up beating the Islanders 2-1 in the contest, but Chimera had nothing but good things to say about his former team and their fans in his postgame comments.
Asked for his reaction to the tribute video and applause, the veteran winger was grateful.
"It was nice. I spent a lot of years here and it was nice. It was emotional for sure," Chimera said. "A nice gesture by the fans. A nice gesture by the Capitals."
He said he wasn't surprised by how fans received him despite playing for an opposing team.
"They're just classy people. It's a great city to be in. A great city. I've had a lot of good people treat me really well here," Chimera said. He also pointed out the quality of hockey fans in the DMV.
"They're a knowledgeable fan base, they're a good fan base and, for the most part, I've been treated first-class all the way."
Chimera's message to the cheering crowd was simple: "Thank you."
But he didn't have a lot of time to hang around the building.
"No," he said when asked if he got time to see any of his former teammates. "You kind of come in and come out, so it's tough to get, ya know."
"I'm with the Islanders now. It was a nice moment there when they gave me the tribute, but you move on and I've put it in the past already. You want to win with this team now."
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