Defender Matt Niskanen played 390 regular-season games with the Washington Capitals, a run that peaked with a Stanley Cup Championship in 2018.
On Saturday, for the first time since he moved to Philadelphia, Niskanen returned to Capital One Arena. And, quite appropriately, Niskanen was heralded with a video tribute and loud standing ovation.
The tribute video spanned all five seasons Niskanen was in Washington showing goals, big hits, and painful shot blocks. The video ended with Nisky celebrating the Caps’ Stanley Cup with his teammates.
“Saying goodbye to your close buddies and your teammates, that’s hard,” Niskanen says in the video. “The organization, the city, the fans, I was part of something really special. No regrets and a lot of great memories there. We’re together forever. Pretty hard to say goodbye.”
Here’s the split-screen of Niskanen watching on the Flyers bench.
Thanks, Nisky ❤️ pic.twitter.com/tA7Bq6u1IX
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 9, 2020
“I think he had a huge role in [in our success],” Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said after the morning skate. “Just did a great job of coming in and especially from my end of things, working with the defensemen, he was someone who I had coached for a number of years and seen his game grow from just being a seventh guy when he came to us in Pittsburgh to ultimately during injury times being a one or two. Then earning a great deal with Washington. He was a great role model for a lot of our defensemen in terms of how he practices, the habits, the systems, the details. He made my job a lot easier coming in, in having a live example of how to do things properly. Obviously, in conjunction with Brooks coming in as well. If you look in the change in our numbers defensively the year before that to that year, it’s pretty unmatched in terms of the improvement shown in one year and the difference they made.
“It’ll be good to have him recognized by the fans. He was a fan favorite. A true pro.”
After the video concluded, a clearly emotional Niskanen waved to fans as he received a standing ovation from the Caps faithful.
Thanks for everything, Nisky.
Headline photo courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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