Washington Capitals: Andre Burakovsky, a farewell too soon

Andre Burakovsky, an unpredictable player who delivered for the Washington Capitals in unpredictable fashion.

Some Washington Capitals fans grew frustrated with the way Andre Burakovsky played and sometimes the coaches would give Burakovsky either line demotions or healthy scratches from the lineup entirely.

But Burakovsky is a player nobody should’ve taken for granted. In the end, he’s moving on to the Colorado Avalanche and the new scenery and opportunities that lie ahead will serve him well.

True Capitals fans though understand the impact he left on this organization. He came in as a 19-year old one year after being drafted in the first round at 23rd in 2013 and made an impact right from his NHL debut scoring just 6:43 into Washington’s new season.

In the Capitals season opener that year, a home game against the Montreal Canadiens, Troy Brouwer forced a turnover of the puck on P.K. Subban and found a wide-open Burakovsky for the quick snipe and his first NHL goal.

That laser shot in addition to his speed was a gift for the Capitals bottom-six forwards. Burakovsky had a lot of potential and a lot of big goals to boot and that is one thing the Capitals will remember.

In the playoffs later that season in a Game 4 second round tilt with the New York Rangers, the Capitals were staring at a 1-0 deficit after Derick Brassard broke the tie.

Late in the second period and just 24 seconds into the third period, it was Burakovsky’s two goals that made the difference. Little did fans know, this would be a preview of what was to come three springs later.

There was no such thing as a sophomore slump for Burakovsky, who had his best season in Washington with 17 goals, 21 assists and 38 points. He followed that up with a decent season in 2016-17 until a hand injury on his birthday sidelined him for a good portion of the second half.

He had an even more severe injury the next season and the times he was scratched put a damper on him. But who wouldn’t feel down not being able to participate in a sport you love? Athletes are humans too and yes, even they are on social media.

Burakovsky has noted that he works with a sports psychologist as part of his offseason regimen. This is a special form of therapy for athletes to help them visualize success, have positive self talk, and relaxation techniques.

Burakvosky was even more vocal about it heading into Game 6 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Final after not only spending Game 5 as a healthy scratch but also missing the remainder of the first round and the entire second round with another injury.

Two nights later, he had a game for the ages that will be remembered forever among Capitals fans. In a close fought game early on after Alex Ovechkin put the Capitals on the board 62 seconds in, Burakovsky added a pair of goals to put the Capitals up 3-0. It was en route to a 4-0 shutout to put the Capitals back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in two decades.

TAMPA, FL – MAY 23: Andre Burakovsky #65 of the Washington Capitals celebrates a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 23, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

It is positive moments like that and many more why Burakovsky will always be a part of this great organization. Now he’s on the west coast as a member of a new team that looks to return to Stanley Cup glory. At only 24, he hasn’t even reached his prime yet and if he does, the Avalanche will be glad to reap the benefits.

On Oct. 14, Burakovsky and the Avalanche return to D.C. It’ll surely be an emotional night for Andre himself as well as the Capitals faithful who will no doubt give him a rousing ovation after an emotional tribute video.

Stars and Sticks would like to congratulate Burakovsky on all the success he achieved in D.C., thank him for everything he did for the Capitals on and off the ice, and wish him well in his new endeavors with the Avalanche.