Early Sunday morning, Manny Nicolas and his friend, Byron Graham, were stopped in front of a kebab spot on K Street NW in D.C. when three guys opened the door to Nicolas’s 2013 black Infiniti G36X.
“Do you know who I am?” Nicolas said Andre Burakovsky replied, before introducing himself.
Nicolas, a Caps fan, said he immediately recognized the name, but didn’t believe it was really the Capitals’ 22-year-old forward. Burakovsky showed Nicolas some photos on his phone. Then Nicolas noticed Burakovsky’s right hand, which was in a cast, the result of a slap shot by Detroit’s Brendan Smith last week.
“I saw his hand, and I was like, ‘It is you!’ ” Nicolas recalled. “He was a very cool guy.”
Nicolas lives in Silver Spring, but he and Graham agreed to drive Burakovsky and his two buddies back to Burakovsky’s apartment in Northern Virginia. Graham said the five of them were just “cracking jokes” during the ride. They also took a selfie, which Nicolas, who is on the left with no hat in the photo, posted to Instagram later that day and was picked up by NHL.com and other outlets.
Nicolas said he and Burakovsky exchanged numbers and that Burakovsky texted him Monday to say, “You’re famous now.” Nicolas told Burakovsky to let him know when he’s back on the ice. (Barry Trotz said that won’t be until mid- to late March.)
“It went viral fast,” Nicolas said of his Instagram photo. “I was amazed.”
Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a story about people climbing into late-model sedans after mistaking them for Ubers. Nicolas said his car, which Graham was driving Sunday, has been mistaken for an Uber before.
“I can see why,” he said. “I’m assuming [Burakovsky] ordered an UberBLACK, which are the nicer cars.”
This post has been updated.