It might have been Game 1 out of 82, but Hendrix Lapierre’s first NHL goal might go down as the most memorable moment of the 2021-22 season. Taking a pass from TJ Oshie, the 19-year-old sent a shot towards the net that squeaked through Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. Lapierre tumbled hard into the end boards, later admitting he didn’t know he scored until he heard the roar of the Capitals’ crowd. The rookie was then picked up and mobbed by a grinning TJ Oshie, which began a raucous celebration on the ice. Lapierre was congratulated at the bench by Alex Ovechkin, who Hendrix was a huge fan of growing up. So much so that he had one of Ovechkin’s fathead’s on his wall.
While that all sounds like a perfect story, there was one thing absent from Lapierre’s goal: no. 29 Lapierre jerseys in the crowd. It’s both a sign of the times and just how fast Lapierre’s rise to the NHL has been.
After being drafted by the Capitals in 2020, Lapierre played only 21 games in junior before his NHL debut on Wednesday. The QMJHL, where Lapierre plays, held a partial season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the prospect missed many of those games in the fall and winter after being selected to Team Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp. Combined with the surprising severity of Nicklas Backstrom’s hip injury and Connor McMichael’s ascension to top prospect status, Lapierre was not forecast to make the team. And because his lack of playing time, he had literally no hype surrounding him. Not only did most casual Capitals fans not know who Lapierre was, but even the ones who did were unfamiliar with what his number would be in the NHL, 29, making a jersey purchase remote.
It created an interesting situation where not only did any fans (that we know of) have any Capitals jerseys of Lapierre at the game, but neither did his girlfriend or family, who traveled to DC earlier to watch his debut game.
AND THE FAM'S ALL HERE 😍 pic.twitter.com/DFZWmxyHB4
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 14, 2021
But there was one intrepid fan who, minutes after seeing Lappy score his first NHL goal, dropped some serious cash to leave the arena in a custom-made one. The longtime Capitals fan’s name is Paul. Paul’s reasoning for the Lapierre jersey, beyond Lappy’s general talent and goal that night, was that his own birthday is on March 29th (Tom Wilson’s birthday).
“So 29 is my lucky number,” Paul said in an interview with RMNB. “When I first saw Lapierre come out onto the ice, I told everyone around me that this guy was going to score tonight.”
Then he went and did.
“When Hendrix scored, I went crazy,” Paul continued. “I left my seats and immediately went to look for the custom shop at Capital One Arena to ask them to make his jersey for me. When I got to the shop, they said no one has the number 29 on the team and I responded, ‘Yes, there is someone with that number. HE JUST SCORED.”
The jersey creation process wasn’t without its challenges. Paul couldn’t find Lapierre’s name on the Capitals website, so when he put the customized name down, he misspelled the customized name on the receipt LaPirre. The jersey creator thankfully spell-checked before creating the jersey.
“He is an Aries so he is impulsive as hell,” explained Paul’s best friend Claire.
“I’m repping a future legend!” Paul said excitedly.
Capitals fans who want to be as cool as Paul can purchase a Lapierre jersey on the NHL’s online store. Lapierre’s name was recently added to the dropdown as one of the players that can be customized onto jerseys.
— NHL Jersey Numbers (@NHLNewNumbers) October 12, 2021
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