After nine years as a Capital, Karl Alzner couldn’t leave without saying goodbye.
Washington’s longtime Iron Man stopped by Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday to shake hands and say thank you to the Capitals’ training and medical staffs as well as other members of the front office.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Alzner told CSN as left the practice facility.
“It’s nice to see all the love from the trainers and stuff,” he continued. “It's going to be a little bit strange. At the same time, I’m excited to get a new opportunity. [Montreal] is the franchise in the league; it’s hockey. I don’t think it really gets much better than that. It’s competitive and [there’s] management and ownership that’s willing to do absolutely anything to win. That’s kind of the dream, for a player that especially hasn’t won a cup yet. So I’m pretty excited about that.”
Alzner signed a five year, $23.1 million deal with the Canadiens for an annual average value of $4.625 million on Saturday. The 28-year-old defenseman earned $2.8 million last season in Washington.
Although Alzner had known for a while that he wouldn’t be returning to the Caps, it didn’t make a hectic process any easier to stomach in recent days.
“It’s been crazy,” said Alzner, who was drafted by Washington 5th overall in 2007. “It hasn’t been a whole lot of fun. A lot of people say this must be awesome, you get the pick of the litter and figure out where you want to go, where you want to live. It's not really that way. For some guys it is. [But] there are so many decisions to make, especially when you have family and roots as deep as we have here. You have to be smart about your decision. We had some really good opportunities and Montreal was definitely the best one.”
As excited as Alzner is to be joining a franchise steeped in tradition and coming off a division title, he also acknowledged that he had a little trepidation—at first, anyway—about the intense scrutiny that players face in a hockey-mad city like Montreal vs. Washington.
“A lot of talking, a lot feeling nauseous at times because me and Mandy are homebodies and we’re pretty private,” he said, referring to his wife. “So there were a lot of uneasy moments but in the end we feel pretty good.”
So now Alzner is a Canadien. But before totally shifting into Montreal mode, he had a stop he needed to make—at the Caps’ rink where he greeted trainers, coaches and other team employees. He was flanked by Mandy.
“These guys are our family,” Alzner said. “We’ve spent a ton of time together. We’re pretty tight and they all wanted to say bye, too. I know that everyone kind of takes off for the summer so we knew was this was probably one of our only opportunities to do that.”
Oh, and there was one more reason he stopped at Kettler.
“And to send a few packages out before I get completely cut off,” he cracked.