Coach Boudreau may be one of the most unassuming coaches in all of professional sports, but all he knows how to do is win. And win he did in his first year in D.C.
On Thanksgiving Day 2007, he inherited the worst team in the NHL and then led his charges from a 6-14-1 record to a Southeast Division championship and the team’s first playoff berth since 2003. Pacing Boudreau’s exciting offense was 22-year-old Alex Ovechkin, a ‘goal-scoring machine’ with a penchant for eclectic clothes and variations of facial hair. The Russian-born power forward scored 65 goals in 2007-08 – the most in the NHL in 12 years – and became the first player in league history to win the Hart Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award,Art Ross Trophy and the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in one season.New to the D.C. scene in 2007-08 was Ovechkin’s running mate, rookie Nicklas Backstrom. The 20-year-old center from Sweden set a team rookie record with 55 assists and finished second in NHL rookie of the year balloting.
As active as Boudreau, Ovechkin, Backstrom and the rest of the Capitals are in the rink, the team is equally involved out of it. Ovechkin sponsors his own section in Verizon Center called Ovi’s Crazy 8s. The perennial NHL All-Star purchases eight Capitals season tickets and donates them to Most Valuable Kids, who distribute the tickets to underserved children or soldiers so they can see the Capitals up close at Verizon Center.