Christmas, 2008. I knew what was under the tree that year and I was super excited to finally get to use it. A few weeks earlier when the package arrived, it took everything not to open it up. The present with my wife’s name on it was a #27 Karl Alzner jersey. Mine was a #40 Semyon Varlamov sweater. In glorious Caps Red, they were a sight to behold.
Fast forward to that spring. Things weren’t looking good for our jerseys. Sitting in what would become our regular seats for the following year, we watched Game One of the Rangers Series. Alzner was down on the farm in Hershey and sitting on the end of the bench was Varly, not knowing that by the end of the series the entire DC area would be abuzz about the rookie goalie who saved the Caps season. In a few games time, someone would make up a ‘VAR-LY’ jumbotron graphic and 18,000 people would proudly chant the young goalie’s name. After Game Seven, standing at our seats, I heard someone yell “VARLY! VARLY!” I looked back to see two guys pointing at me. “WE SAW YOU GAME ONE! YOU KNEW! YOU KNEW!” I knew only what my eyes had told me at Development Camp the previous year: the kid was good enough for me to put his name on a jersey.
Fast forward again. After several seasons of impressive stats and many stints on on the IR for various pulls, tweaks and sprains, it was time for Varly to negotiate a new contract. My jersey was already no longer valid, Varly having changed numbers before last season, but that was OK. In a week’s time, talk went from ‘How much is Varly worth?’ to ‘Which KHL team would get him?’ to ‘Colorado gave up WHAT for him!?’. You can blame it on agents or miscommunication or stubbornness or what have you but regardless of the reasons, Varly is gone.
We got a lot of good moments out of Varly. Ignoring Avery. The Crosby Save. Throwing his arms against the crossbar to keep from sliding into the net. Winning the Winter Classic. Unintentionally trashing ‘fat’ American girls. Every non-injurious, ‘how’d he do that!?’ acrobatic save.
So it is with a heavy heart that I will be packing away my Varly jersey to be worn during pick-up games. Wearing it to Caps games just won’t feel right anymore. Sometimes you have to move on. It’s a shame too… it’s a really nice jersey.
Wait… there’s a ‘V’ on there. And an ‘O’. All I need are some ‘2’s and ‘9’s and a ‘K-O-U-N’…
“Honey? Where’s the sewing machine!?”