Hockey Traditions: Karl Alzner and Braden Holtby

Have you ever noticed what happens at the end of a game when the Washington Capitals win? Everyone lines up and does the head-tap with Braden Holtby. It a long-standing hockey tradition designed to honor the guy who took all the punishment in the net and kept the team in the game.


We have all seen the way in which Braden gets in the zone before the game. And we know about his water bottle rituals and odd acrobatic stretches before the game. What we have been wondering about though is the role Karl Alzner plays at the end of the game. Have you ever noticed the way Karl stands next to Braden as the rest of the team head and fist bumps Holtz? And when they have all passed through the congratulation line, Karl gives him a hug, wraps his arm around him, and escorts him off the ice.

So we asked Karl the other day, “What’s up with you and Braden at the end of the game?” He paused, thought about it, and then then said, “I don’t know.” Like most traditions it started one day and became an end-of-game ritual. Karl said he doesn’t remember doing it in Hershey where he and Holtby got their start playing with the AHL Bears. He doesn’t even know how it started but figures it probably had to do with their long friendship and playing history.

neuvy alzner

Apparently Karl doesn’t realize he has been escorting the goalie after a win for sometime now. Here he is in 2010 with another former Hershey Bear goalie turned Caps goalie–Michal Neuvirth.

So, we don’t know why they do it, but we think it is pretty cool and symbolic of the special bonds that hockey players develop over the course of their careers.

Photos by  Mel Abernethy and Brittney Marcum

Author: Maggie Marcum

Managing Editor for Friends in Cold Places.

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