In July 2013, Andre Burakovsky, an 18-year-old Swede drafted earlier that year, joined the Capitals for the first time during the team’s annual development camp. Burakovsky, with his tenuous command of English and an unfamiliarity with peanut butter, was placed in the care of Tom Wilson to adjust to North America.
When Burakovsky made the Capitals roster full time at the end of last year, he went right back to Wilson, staying with the bruising Canadian forward and his roommate, center Michael Latta. While Wilson and Latta are inseparable, even during the offseason, they took time to take Burakovsky under their wing. The trio’s exploits provided continuous amusement to Caps fans with Twitter or Instagram accounts. That time, however, has come to an end.
Last Wednesday, Burakovsky went to see Ed Sheeran at Verizon Center. When it came time to head home, Burakovsky didn’t crash in Wilson and Latta’s spare bedroom. Instead, he slept in his own apartment for the first time.
— Tom Wilson (@tom_wilso) September 24, 2015
— Michael Latta (@Latta17) September 24, 2015
“It’s back to the way it started,” Wilson told me. “We took him in and he left us.”
“It’s sad,” Wilson said. “He’s a good kid. He was fun to have around. We had a lot of good times together, but we’re not in elementary school anymore. It’s the real world.”
A few days removed from the big departure, Wilson and Latta’s bachelor pad has mellowed. The youngest of the three, Burakovsky received extensive badgering from his compatriots, who thought of him as a little brother.
“It’s a lot quieter because we always yell at Burkie,” Latta said.
What Wilson and Latta do next with their third bedroom remains to be seen. Eloquently described as “a great room” by Wilson, the space looks likely to be converted into a guest bedroom. Wilson and Latta suggested they might offer it to future teammates who needed a place to stay — as long as they didn’t mess up their dynamic.
“We could help someone out if they need it, but Lats and I are good together,” Wilson said.
“We made our mistake so it’s a strict interview policy,” Latta said. “Three sets of interviews.”
As for Burakovsky, he seems to be doing fine without Wilson and Latta.
“It’s a little bit more lonely,” Burakovsky said, laughing. “I’m getting older and more mature so I can take care of myself. It’s kinda nice to have your own place, relax by yourself, and do whatever you want.”
One concern is whether Burakovsky can feed himself. While Andre insisted that he “can make food,” the Capitals team chef has been giving him recipes and pointers just in case. While Burakovsky is growing up off the ice, he’s growing up on it too. With Nicklas Backstrom out, the number two center spot is his. Both these moves are big adjustments for Burakovsky, but ones he’s confident he can make.
“It seems like forever ago we were cooking mac and cheese at the Residence Inn at his first development camp,” Wilson said. “He’s come a long way. Hopefully he’s ready to get kicked out of the nest.”
— Michael Latta (@Latta17) September 28, 2015
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