Well Caps fans, it’s official.
Braden Holtby took the ice with the Vancouver Canucks for their first day of training camp on Monday after signing a two-year, $8.6 deal with the team over the offseason.
Holtby’s iconic red number 70 sweater is gone and has now been replaced by a blue number 49; Canucks forward Tanner Pearson wears number 70 with the team.
@Holts170 looking good in his @CCMGoalie #Eflex5 pads.
📸: @Canucks pic.twitter.com/bnzy54yekg
— Goalie Gear Nerd (@GoalieGearNerd) January 4, 2021
Holtby’s departure has been a hard pill to swallow for most Capitals fans who watched the 2008 fourth-round pick blossom into the best goalie in franchise history, leading the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup in 2018. During his time in DC, Holtby won the Vezina and the William M. Jennings Trophy. His activism off the ice had an immeasurable impact on others as well.
BRADEN HOLTBY IN CANUCKS BLUE I’M FINE pic.twitter.com/NiGW2ZpeU8
— jan~ he/they (@lesbijans) January 4, 2021
Holtby definitely won’t be lonely across the border. He is joining defenseman Nate Schmidt who was traded to the Canucks in October from the Vegas Golden Knights. Schmidt played four seasons with the Capitals before he got picked up by the Golden Knights during the 2017 Expansion Draft.
“It’s gone off without a hitch here so far,” said Schmidt during a post-practice interview. “Having Holts and Beags here is an awesome start for me because you have guys who know the real true Schmidty.”
We are officially underway! The #Canucks hit the ice at @RogersArena for the first day of training camp for the 2021 season, presented by @TD_Canada. pic.twitter.com/qz08ujPlHu
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 5, 2021
Holtby and Schmidt will complete the DC reunion as they also join centerman Jay Beagle who previously played 10 seasons with the Capitals from 2008-2018. Beagle is now entering his third season with the Canucks.
Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko, who impressed in the 2020 playoffs, is looking forward to working with Holtby this season as he tries to take the next step in his career.
“Holts and I have hit it off really well,” said Demko. “We’ve been in the weight room and on the ice together getting to know each other. It’s been awesome we clicked really well.”
Well this is different. @Holts170 is ready to roll as a member of the #Canucks. pic.twitter.com/sViJDNAfLC
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) January 4, 2021
As for Holtby, he is excited to learn from new coaches and teammates.
“Every guy sees the game a little differently,” said Holtby. “As a goaltender, you just want to soak in as much of that as you possibly can.”
Meanwhile, back in Washington, Holtby’s banner still hangs outside of the MedStar Capitals Iceplex as the Caps begin training camp without one of their leaders for the first time in 10 years.
1/3/21 and still here 🤷♂️🤷♂️🤷♂️ @russianmachine https://t.co/Lp40hZzj1J pic.twitter.com/WUdUwmWVxI
— Just Another Greek Tragedy (@DaWhistlesGoWoo) January 3, 2021
Caps players are sad to see their long-time goaltender leave, especially defenseman John Carlson.
“It’s definitely weird,” said Carlson. “I think he’s been a constant pretty much my whole career, whether it was in Hershey or here in training camps. We’ve had a long run together.”
That bond also translated to John’s oldest son Lucca, who liked Holtby so much, he called him his favorite hockey player — even over dad.
Screenshot courtesy of @canucks
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