Hendrix Lapierre was a top-10 talent in the 2020 NHL Draft whose stock tumbled after head and neck injury concerns scared off teams. Lapierre fell to the Washington Capitals, who traded up to select him at pick number 22.
Being drafted in the 20s was not necessarily the fairytale Lapierre imagined as he was putting up points with aplomb in Midget, but in some ways, what happened in reality was even better. The then 18-year-old center said he was “really, really happy” to join the talented Caps and there was one reason in particular.
“I was a big Ovechkin fan growing up,” Lapierre said on October 6, 2020 after being picked. “I had his jersey. I had his poster on my wall. My first jersey that I received was an Ovechkin jersey.”
Lapierre dug up some priceless photos from his childhood a day later. In one pic, a young Lapierre can be seen rocking an Ovechkin jersey. In another, he poses in front of an Ovechkin fathead while cradling a bunch of trophies from one of his tournaments.
Congrats Hendrix and all draft picks this year!!! Meet u soon :)))) https://t.co/tCdDks89v3
— Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) October 8, 2020
“When your Fathead becomes your teammate,” the Capitals observed on social media.
Well, sorta. In the same organization: ✅. Teammates: ❎.
Exactly one year and one week later, Lapierre, now 19, made the Capitals after a sensational Training Camp where he finished for the team-lead in preseason points with five. Lappy made his NHL debut against the New York Rangers in front of his family and girlfriend at Capital One Arena. He centered the third line, skating between NHL veterans Conor Sheary and TJ Oshie.
Not only did Lapierre officially become Alex Ovechkin’s teammate that night, but he also scored his first NHL goal as his hockey hero moved into fifth on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list (732). Taking an incredible backhanded pass by Oshie, Lapierre raced in alone and fired a shot that leaked past Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. Lapierre slid hard into the boards, but was pulled back up to the ice by Oshie, as the two were mobbed by the rest of their teammates.
Minutes later, Lapierre got a thundering ovation from Capitals fans as PA announcer Wes Johnson announced his tally. Capitals goal scored by number 29, HENDRIXXXXXXXX lahPIERRE.
— Byron J. Hudtloff (@ByronHudtloff) October 14, 2021
Down at ice level, Ovechkin had just returned to the bench for a shift change. Ovechkin gave Lapierre a friendly headbutt.
The two sat beside each other, Lapierre to Ovechkin’s right, as Wes Johnson’s goal call echoed around the arena. Ovechkin, gazing up at the jumbotron, patted Lapierre on the helmet to congratulate him again. Lapierre let out a huge smile and looked on star struck.
Lapierre spoke about the moment after the game with NBC Sports Washington’s Al Koken.
“He’s an awesome guy,” Lapierre said of Ovechkin. “He’s such a good teammate but he’s such a good player too. He finds ways to score all the time. He’s always ready in the room. He was actually really cool to me after my goal. I really appreciate those kinds of things. For them maybe it’s basic, but for me as a young guy, to get those shoulder taps and see those guys score, it’s pretty special. He’s amazing to watch. Everyone is.”
Lapierre added, “It was such a perfect night. The fans were incredible. The atmosphere was incredible. It’s tough to put into words, but it couldn’t of been better.”
🎶 oh, what a night 🎶 pic.twitter.com/gtO1qQ8X60
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 14, 2021
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