Sunday, former Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt returned to Capital One Arena for the first time since being drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft. And this may be shocking for some, but he had a good time.
Recently, Schmidt’s former teammate Karl Alzner had his homecoming game against the Capitals and went to the wrong penalty box.
“I saw that,” Schmidt said laughing via NBC Sports Washington’s Tarik El-Bashir. “I hope I’m not in that position. What are you saying?”
Schmidt did however admit to getting confused when first arriving for the game.
“I was walking the wrong way, ready to start the day,” Schmidt said. “I was following Huey (Caps TV Producer Steve “Huey” Farrell) on the way in. It was good to see some familiar faces that’s for sure.”
The night before the game, Schmidt caught up with many of his teammates, making light of a hair-cutting, uh, incident (?) last April. Not-barber Braden Holtby began giving Schmidt a mohawk in a hotel bathroom, but became timid and stopped midway through.
Ex-Cap Nate Schmidt said he saw a few former teammates last night. "Most of the D men, some goalies."
I asked if any of them offered to cut his hair:
"I can't confirm or deny that, but yes."
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) February 4, 2018
During the actual game, Schmidt skated a team-high 24:54 and tallied a secondary assist on Ryan Carpenter’s first period goal.
— TRSN Vegas (@TRSNLasVegas) February 4, 2018
Schmidt, Vegas’s first-pairing defender, was tasked with shutting down the league leader in goals, Alex Ovechkin. Ovi had one shot on goal (11 shot attempts total), and failed for the second consecutive game against the Golden Knights to register a point.
“Nate did a great job on (Ovechkin),” Gallant said to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Steve Carp. “But it was a team effort.”
The Minnesota native also received a wide variety of tributes during the game.
The Capitals tweeted at Schmidt during the game that it was “[g]ood to see ya.” He also received a short welcome back message from the team in-house.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 4, 2018
According to the AP’s Stephen Whyno, the crowd gave Schmidt a brief standing ovation.
Nate Schmidt gets standing ovation and welcome back message. Good kid. Was popular here.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) February 4, 2018
But some Capitals fans criticized the team for not doing a video tribute, which they normally reserve for more veteran players.
Nate Schmidt deserved a video tribute. The 2 second, "let's acknowledge a former player when he is on the ice and the play is about to start" was completely disrespectful. Fans will always love and show support for Schmidt though.
— Between the Blue Lines (@btwntheblueline) February 4, 2018
— 📣📣📣 (@TheHornGuy) February 4, 2018
I am too. Just a brief mention is not good enough. @capsgameent
— DanielleinDC (@VeggieTart) February 4, 2018
Fans came in droves to show support for the former Caps player, printing out signs that RMNB provided on its website. (More photos here.)
— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) February 4, 2018
We love you and miss you, Nate! pic.twitter.com/HL8aKMwPXz
— Monica Ruiz (@DogGrrrl) February 5, 2018
Some fans even brought handmade signs they created themselves.
— Resistance Is Not Futile (@kscarfone) February 4, 2018
love you❤️ pic.twitter.com/n7wk9D04Sj
— alyssa (@alyssadrew97) February 4, 2018
Love and miss you 💞 pic.twitter.com/SsyQYPf4NT
— Tess Nicol (@tnicol035) February 5, 2018
Schmidt trended in Washington DC during the actual game.
Nate Schmidt is trending in Washington, but oddly there seems to be no love for GMGM – George Mcphee!
— Capitals Outsider (@CapsOutsider) February 4, 2018
He tossed pucks to fans during warmups.
— FriendsinColdPlaces (@inColdPlacesDC) February 4, 2018
After the game, Schmidt seemed genuinely moved by the reception, liking droves of fans’ photos and videos on Instagram and Twitter.
— Logan Chandler (@loganchandler69) February 4, 2018
He even asked, according to the the Vegas Golden Knights’ Twitter account, for one of RMNB’s signs.
“I don’t know. I haven’t received one yet.” —Nate Schmidt on if he’s received a Welcome Home Nate Schmidt sign.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) February 4, 2018
Schmidt thanked his former fans and called it a “special day” on Twitter.
What a game today, great win for the fellas. Thank you to the fans for all the support today, it was a special day!
— Nate Schmidt (@nateschmidt29) February 4, 2018
“It was phenomenal. I loved my time here,” Schmidt said. “It was an absolute blast. A lot of people reached out already. It was good to see a lot of familiar faces around. It’s just that I feel truly blessed that a lot of people gave me a lot of support over the years here that I had. I had a lot of fun here as well. It means a lot to me.”
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) February 4, 2018
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.