Hendrix Lapierre was one of the top 10 talents in the 2020 NHL Draft whose stock fell after head and neck injury issues scared the teams. Lapierre fell to the Washington Capitals, who traded to select him as No. 22 pick.
Being drafted in the ’20s wasn’t necessarily the fairy tale Lapierre envisioned as he self-confidently scored points in Midget, but in some ways what actually happened was even better. The then 18-year-old center said he was “really, really happy” to join the talented Caps and there was a reason in particular.
“I was a huge Ovechkin fan growing up,” Lapierre said on October 6, 2020 after being picked. “I had his jersey. I had his poster on my wall. My first jersey that I received was an Ovechkin jersey.
Lapierre unearthed some priceless photos from his childhood a day later. In one photo, we can see a young Lapierre rocking an Ovechkin jersey. In another, he poses in front of a large Ovechkin head while cradling a pile of trophies from one of his tournaments.
Congratulations Hendrix and all the draft picks this year !!! See you soon :)))) https://t.co/tCdDks89v3
– Alex Ovechkin (@ ovi8) October 8, 2020
“When your Fathead becomes your teammate,” the Capitals observed on social media.
Well, sort. In the same organization:. Teammates: ❎.
Exactly a year and a week later, Lapierre, now 19, reached the Capitals after a sensational training camp where he finished for the team leader with five preseason points. Lappy made his NHL debut against the New York Rangers in front of his family and girlfriend at Capital One Arena. He centered the third line, skating between veterans NHL Conor Sheary and TJ Oshie.
Not only did Lapierre officially become Alex Ovechkin’s teammate that night, but he also scored his first NHL goal as his hockey hero rose to fifth on everyone’s scoring list. NHL times (732). Recovering an incredible pass from Oshie’s backhand, Lapierre ran on his own and fired a shot that escaped Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. Lapierre slipped hard in the boards, but was pulled to the ice by Oshie, as the two were mobbed by the rest of their teammates.
Minutes later, Lapierre received a thunderous standing ovation from Capitals fans as PA announcer Wes Johnson announced his count. Capitals goal marked by the number 29, HENDRIXXXXXXXX lahPIERRE.
– Byron J. Hudtloff (@ByronHudtloff) October 14, 2021
Ice level, Ovechkin had just returned to the bench for a shift change. Ovechkin gave Lapierre a friendly header.
The two were seated next to each other, Lapierre to Ovechkin’s right, as Wes Johnson’s call on goal echoed through the arena. Ovechkin, looking at the jumbotron, patted Lapierre on the helmet to congratulate him again. Lapierre let out a big smile and looked at the smitten star.
Lapierre spoke about the moment after the game with NBC Sports Washington’s Al Koken.
“He’s a great guy,” Lapierre said of Ovechkin. “He’s such a good teammate, but he’s also such a good player. He finds ways to score all the time. He’s always ready in the room. He was really cool with me after my goal. I really enjoy this stuff. For them it might be basic, but for me, as a youngster, to get that pat on the shoulder and see these guys score is pretty special. It is amazing to watch. Everyone is.”
Lapierre added: “It was such a perfect night. The fans were amazing. The atmosphere was amazing. It’s hard to express, but it couldn’t have been better.
oh what a night pic.twitter.com/gtO1qQ8X60
– Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 14, 2021
Photo: @ Lapiz92 / @ Capitals