Tom Wilson and Andre Burakovsky first met each other at Capitals’ Development Camp in July 2013. The two teenage prospects roomed together that week. They had instant chemistry.
“He learned me a lot of things like eating peanut butter,” Andre Burakovsky said to me then in an interview. “I tasted cinnamon roller. It was really good too. He learned me to eat some different things over here (like macaroni and cheese). He’s a really good player, a really good friend. We have spent some good time together.”
As the interview ended, Wilson snuck over and put a skate bag over Burakovsky’s head.
Six years later, the two brobeans who lived together, wrestled each other, antagonized each other, and won a Stanley Cup together, must now grapple with a future where they’re no longer on the same team. In June, the Capitals dealt Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche for draft picks and cap space, acquiescing on a trade request the Swedish forward made during the winter.
“The memories with that guy will be forever,” Wilson told The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir recently in a phone interview. “I was saying to my girlfriend, ‘Who am I going to go to dinner with on the road?’
“There are definitely guys who are teammates and you’re friends with, but you move on, you lose touch,” Wilson added. “But Burky was a best buddy. So it sucks when that happens.”
On the day of the trade, Wilson tweeted a photo of himself handing the Stanley Cup to Burakovsky. “Good luck the rest of the way, see you in the corners!!!” Wilson said.
Love ya brother. Good luck the rest of the way, see you in the corners!!! @andreburakovsky pic.twitter.com/q4XEZm8hjY
— Tom Wilson (@tom_wilso) June 28, 2019
Wilson explained the message to El-Bashir.
“Yeah, I saw a couple of tweets saying, ‘You have to go into the corners to see someone in the corners,’” Wilson joked. “No, it’s all fun. I wanted to keep it light on social media. I sent him a text with more emotion than that. I’m happy for him. I think he’s going to do good. I think he’s going to go and find his game. It’ll be good for both sides.”
On Monday, Burakovsky’s move to Denver became official when the restricted free agent signed a one-year deal worth $3.25 million. The short term contract will allow Andre, who has had several down seasons in a row, to prove himself worthy of a long-term deal while limiting the Avs’ risk. The Avalanche will give Burakovsky a long look in the team’s top six – an opportunity he would unlikely get from the Capitals moving forward.
Burakovsky leaves behind in DC good friends, bizarre pregame rituals, bad dancing, and a legacy of big goals.
But the biggest thing he may be leaving behind is his friendship with Tom.
“Love ya brother,” Wilson said.
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