When Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth went down with injuries late in the regular season, Braden Holtby couldn’t have possibly had better timing in becoming a star in net for the Washington Capitals.
That good timing extended to the birth of Holtby’s son, with Benjamin Hunter entering the world Thursday, two days before Game 7.
“It was planned so it would be the least amount of a distraction to our team as possible,”
Holtby said Friday. “It was a great day. Mom and baby are doing great. But now I’m focusing on hockey.”
Holtby and his fiancée, Brandi, were prepared, and the 22-year-old goaltender hasn’t shown any nerves about the upcoming life-altering event throughout these playoffs.
Having a kid on the way wasn’t a distraction, and Holtby won’t let this be one, either.
“Circumstances are different, but it’s still the same game. It’s still hockey,” he said. “The main thing you learn when you turn professional is to separate personal life from hockey, and that’s what we’re gonna do here.”
After answering six questions about the birth of his son, Holtby politely asked reporters to talk about hockey.
But teammates know this is a big deal.
“The guy’s got enough pressure on him already that he has something like this to deal with this too. He seems to be great. Everything went fine, and we’re all so pumped up for him,” said Alzner, who said players flooded Holtby’s phone with text messages. “It is an exciting time for him, and we hope to make it exciting for a little while longer.”
Holtby is the fourth Caps player to have a child, or in Matt Hendricks’ case, twins, born during this season. Keith Aucoin’s wife gave birth to a son, Brayden Michael, Feb. 29. Jeff Halpern’s wife gave birth in the fall.
“It’s great. When I had Brayden, they were awesome, they were really supportive, they all congratulate you and it’s not even just them, it’s all the wives and girlfriends,” Aucoin said. “When we’re on the road they come over and help out as much as they can. So it’s not just the guys in the locker room, it’s the families that help when you’re on the road so it’s both the guys and the wives and the girlfriends that are a great help.”