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Personalized Welcome to woman cave also as know as sewing room doormat
“Well, it was a little different. When I first got drafted, keep in mind I’m 19 years old. I had to look up on a map to see where Washington, DC was. It was interesting. They flew us down to give us a tour of the city – my mom and dad and my girlfriend and I. So we came down and they picked us up in a limousine and showed us all the sights. Then the driver jumps on the beltway and we’re driving past the Capital Centre in Landover. And he was telling us about different things and he says, ‘Yeah, that’s the Capital Centre. They have lots of concerts there and different events. The Washington Bullets play there.’ Then he says, ‘You know what? I think they might even have an ice hockey team there.’ So I knew very early that I was going to a place where hockey was not very high on the priority list.” Personalized Welcome to woman cave also as know as sewing room doormat
— Mike Gartner, on coming to Washington in 1979 after being raised in hockey-mad Ontario
It’s a good thing Mike Gartner wasn’t looking for Washington, DC on a “hockey map” in those days. At the time, the Capitals were a five-year-old expansion franchise and an NHL doormat. In those five pre-Gartner seasons, the Capitals never made the playoffs, never won more than 24 games and never amassed more than 63 points. The year before Gartner’s arrival, the Capitals averaged 9,925 patrons per game and failed to achieve a sellout in any of their home dates.
With the arrival of Gartner, the tide began to turn. He combined with friend and fellow high draft pick Ryan Walter to give the Capitals an exciting and youthful one-two punch. The playoffs were still a few years away when Gartner first made the scene, but the Caps began trending upward right away and haven’t looked back since. The year Gartner left, Washington set franchise marks for average attendance per game (17,013) and number of sellouts in a season (23).
On Monday night, Gartner joined the game’s truly elite when he was enshrined in the hallowed Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, just a short drive from where he grew up. Gartner, who authored 708 goals in 1,432 regular season NHL contests, gained entry in his first year of eligibility and becomes the first Washington Capital player ever to achieve hockey’s grandest individual accolade.
“Well I was ecstatic,” he says, when asked to recall his feelings when he learned of his election to the Hall. “Although I knew there was a three-year waiting period and there is a voting process, I really didn’t know until that day that there was actually a meeting going on and that they were going to be voting on some inductees. When I got the call, I was taken aback by it. I had to just sit for five or 10 seconds and collect my thoughts before I even responded. It was a real thrill.”