During Media Day at Verizon Center yesterday, seeing the players as they were being interviewed was quite the experience. Seeing how this team was nothing a few short years ago, to a team that is full of youth and character that seemed excited for the season to begin. But it was an old vet that had me thinking of the past instead of the Caps' future.
Sergei Fedorov's presence in the room was that of a consummate professional. The way he looks, acts and how he speaks. His experience spans 18 years in the NHL. He has amassed 472 goals and 1146 points throughout his career. When he is in his second skin, a pair of skates and a stick in his hand, he usually has a wide smile on his face. Whether it's game 7 in the playoffs or practice drill, Fedorov just looks like he loves to be out there.
As I watched the Comcast Sportsnet interview with the Capitals' Russian contingent in the Acela Club at the phone booth, I couldn't help but look past Fedorov to the seats my wife and I sat in for game 4 in the 1998 playoffs. The Caps made their run in 1998 and that team was vastly different than the one rubbing elbows with the Washington media today. How far this club has come from that gritty, hard nosed, experienced team that willed its way to the finals to a team of extreme talent and youth that may be Washington's best shot at a Stanley Cup.
Fedorov was apart of that memory, he scored in that game and lifted the Cup in this very building. He was a big part of Detroit's success for many Stanley Cup wins. I have watched nearly his entire career through high school and college and even now, he was the model of a player that always played to win. To see him here in a Capitals' sweater makes me all that more hopeful for this team, this year.
It was a special moment for me as I mingled with players and media. The whole point of the media day event was to talk about the future but instead I couldn't help but to look back at the struggle of a franchise that has tried and is trying to reach the pinnacle of their league. It has been a long road to get here.
Now we are at the start of a very promising season, knowing that a Stanley Cup championship is not far away from this team. It finally looks as if there could be a light at the end of the tunnel. And the moment is not lost on this team that feels the burden of high expectations. While they are young, they know what it takes to get there. Thanks to veterans like Fedorov.