- Washington Capitals
:"For the BAA team, see
Washington Capitols. For the ABA team, see Washington Caps."NHL Team
team_name = Washington Capitals
bg_color = #CF142B
text_color = #003153
conference = Eastern
division = Southeast
founded = 1974
history = Washington Capitals
1974 - present
media_affiliates = Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic
team_colors = Red, Blue, White
owner = flagicon|USA
general_manager = flagicon|CAN
head_coach = flagicon|CAN
captain = flagicon|USA Chris Clark
Hershey Bears(AHL) South Carolina Stingrays( ECHL)
stanley_cups = None
conf_titles = 1997–98
division_titles = 1988–89, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2007–08
The Washington Capitals are a professional
ice hockeyteam based in Washington, D.C.They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League(NHL). They play in the Verizon Centerin Washington's Chinatown neighborhood.
Along with the
Kansas City Scouts, the Capitals joined the National Hockey League as an expansion teamfor the 1974–75 season. The team was owned by Abe Pollin, owner of the NBA's Washington Bullets. Pollin had built the Capital Centre in suburban Landover, Maryland, to house both the Bullets (who formerly played in Baltimore, Maryland) and the Capitals. His first act as owner was to hire Hall of Famer Milt Schmidtas general manager.
With a combined 30 teams between the NHL and the rival
World Hockey Association, the Capitals had few players with professional experience and were at a disadvantage against the long-standing teams that were stocked with more experienced players. Like the other three teams who joined the league during the WHA era—the Scouts, Atlanta Flamesand New York Islanders—the Capitals did not factor the arrival of the WHA into their plans.
The Capitals' inaugural season was dreadful, even by expansion standards. They finished 8–67–5, far and away the worst record in the league. Their 21 points were half that of their expansion brethren, the Scouts. The eight wins are the fewest for an NHL team playing at least 70 games, and the .131 winning percentage is still the worst in NHL history. They also set records for most road losses (39 out of 40), most consecutive road losses (37) (both still NHL records) and most consecutive losses (17), a mark tied by the 1992–93
San Jose Sharks. Coach Jim Anderson said, "I'd rather find out my wife was cheating on me than keep losing like this. At least I could tell my wife to cut it out." Schmidt himself had to take over the coaching reins late in the season.
In 1975–76, Washington went 25 straight games without a win and allowed 394 goals en route to another horrendous record: 11–59–10 (32 points). During the middle of the season,
Max McNabwas hired as GM, and Tom McViewas hired as head coach to replace Schmidt. For the rest of the 1970s and early 1980s, the Capitals alternated between dreadful seasons and finishing only a few points out of the playoffs. In 1980 and 1981, for instance, they were in playoff contention until the last day of the season. The one bright spot during these years of futility was that many of McNab's draft picks (e.g. Rick Green, Ryan Walter, Mike Gartner, Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, Gaetan Duchesne, Bobby Carpenter) would impact the team for years to come, whether as important members of the roster or crucial pieces to major trades. By the summer of 1982, there was serious talk of the team moving out of the U.S. capital, and a "Save the Caps" campaign was underway. Then two significant events took place to solve the problem.
First, the team hired
David Poileas General Manager. Second, as his first move, Poile pulled off one of the biggest trades in franchise history on September 9, 1982, when he dealt longtime regulars Ryan Walter and Rick Green to the Montreal Canadiensfor Rod Langway, Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis, and Craig Laughlin. This move turned the franchise around, as Langway's solid defense helped the team to dramatically reduce its goals-against, and the explosive goal-scoring of Dennis Maruk, Mike Gartner, and Bobby Carpenter fueled the offensive attack. Another significant move was the drafting of defenseman Scott Stevensduring the 1982 NHL Entry Draft(the pick was made by interim-GM Roger Crozier, prior to Poile's hiring). The result was a 29-point jump, a third-place finish in the powerful Patrick Division, and the team's first playoff appearance in 1983. Although they were eliminated by the three-time-defending Stanley CupChampion New York Islanders(three games to one), the Caps' dramatic turnaround ended any talk of the club leaving Washington.
The Capitals would make the playoffs for each of the next 14 years in a row. They became known for starting slow before catching fire in January and February. However, regular-season success did not carry into the playoffs. Despite a continuous march of stars like Gartner, Carpenter, Langway, Gustafsson,
Mike Ridley, Dave Christian, Dino Ciccarelli, Larry Murphy, and Kevin Hatcher, Washington was knocked out in either the first or second round eight years in a row. In 1985–86, for instance, the Caps finished with 107 points (a franchise record that still stands today) and won 50 games for the only time in franchise history, good enough for the fourth-best record in the league. However, they were bounced out of the playoffs in the second round by the New York Rangers.
The next season brought even more heartbreak, with a loss to the Islanders in the Patrick Division Semifinal. This series was capped off by the classic
Easter Epicgame, which ended at 1:56 am on Easter Sunday 1987. The Capitals had thoroughly dominated most of the game, outshooting the Islanders 75–52, but lost in overtime when goaltender Bob Masonwas beaten on a Pat LaFontaineshot from the blue line. For the 1989 playoff push, Gartner and defenseman Larry Murphy were traded to the Minnesota North Starsin exchange for Ciccarelli and defenseman Bob Rouse, however the goaltending once again faltered and they were eliminated in the first round by the Philadelphia Flyers. The Capitals finally made the Wales Conference Finals in 1990, but went down in a four-game sweep at the hands of the first-place Boston Bruins.
By the mid-1990s, the
Stanley Cupseemed to elude the Capitals. Despite having rising stars in right-winger Peter Bondra, defenseman Sergei Gonchar, and center/left-wing Joe Juneau, the team's core players were mostly aging.
The Capitals were favorites during the 1993 playoff series with the
New York Islandersbut they were upset in six games. That series was most remembered when center Dale Hunterchecked the Isles' Pierre Turgeonfrom behind in Game 6 after Turgeon scored the series-clinching goal. Turgeon fell awkwardly onto the ice and suffered a separated shoulder that caused him to miss the Isles' second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hunter's post-goal check earned him a suspension for the first 21 games of the next season – at the time the longest suspension for an on-ice incident in NHL history.
Eastern Conference champions
Then in 1998, Peter Bondra's 52 goals led the team, veterans Hunter, Juneau and
Adam Oatesreturned to old form, and Olaf Kolzighad a solid .920 save percentage as the Caps got past the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, and Buffalo Sabres(the latter on a dramatic overtime win in game six on a goal by Joe Juneau) en route to the team's first (and to date, only) Stanley Cup finals appearance. The Capitals won six overtime games, three in each of their series against the Bruins and Sabres. However, the team was no match for the defending champs, the Detroit Red Wings, who won in a four-game sweep.
That same season, Oates,
Phil Housley, and Dale Hunterall scored their 1,000th career point, the only time in NHL history that one team had 3 different players reach that same milestone in a single season.
Disappointments and rebuilding
In 1999, the Capitals missed the playoffs due to numerous injuries, one of the highest in the league that season. After that season, Pollin sold the Capitals to a group headed by AOL executive
The Capitals went on to win back-to-back Southeast Division titles in 2000 and 2001, yet both years lost in the first round to the
Pittsburgh Penguins. After the 2000–01 season, Adam Oatesdemanded a trade but management refused and stripped him of his team captaincy.
In the summer of 2001, the Capitals landed five-time
Art Ross Trophywinner Jaromir Jagr, one of the best players in the NHL in the 1990s, by trading three young prospects to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jagr was signed to the largest contract ever in NHL history - $77 million over 7 years at an average salary of $11 million per year (over $134,000 "per game"), with an option for an eighth year. However, Jagr did not live up to expectations, as the Capitals failed to defend their division title and missed the playoffs in 2002 despite a winning record. Still, the 2001–2002 season marked the highest attendance in franchise history, drawing in 710,990 fans and 17,341 per game [ [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/notes/was.htm USATODAY.com - Sports ] ] .
In the summer of 2002, the Caps made even more roster changes, including the signing the highly regarded Robert Lang as a free agent, a linemate of Jagr's from Pittsburgh. The Capitals were back in the playoffs 2003, but disappointed fans again by losing in six games to the
Tampa Bay Lightningafter starting off with a two-game lead in the best-of-seven first-round series. The series is well-remembered for the three-overtime Game 6 at the then-MCI Center, the longest game in the building's history, which was eventually decided by a power play goal as a result of Jason Doigskating on the ice too early and warranting a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.
In the 2003–2004 season, the Caps unloaded a lot of their high-priced talent — not just a cost-cutting spree, but also an acknowledgment that their attempt to build a contender with high-priced veteran talent had failed. Jagr had failed to finish among the league's top scorers or make the postseason All-Star Team during his time with the Capitals. They tried to trade Jagr, but as only one year was left on the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement before it expired, few teams were willing to risk $11 million on an underperforming player. In 2004, Jagr was finally sent to the
New York Rangersfor Anson Carterand an agreement that Washington would pay approximately four million dollars per year of Jagr's salary, with Jagr himself agreeing to defer (with interest) $1 million per year for the remainder of his contract to allow the trade to go ahead. This was quickly followed by Bondra going to the Ottawa Senators. Not long after, Robert Lang was sent to Detroit and Gonchar to the Bruins. The Robert Lang trade marked the first time in the history of the National Hockey Leaguethat the league's leading scorer was traded in the middle of the season. The Capitals ended the year 23–46–10–6, tied for the second worst record, along with the Chicago Blackhawks.
2004 NHL Entry Draft, the Capitals won the Draft Lottery, and selected Alexander Ovechkinfirst overall. During the NHL labor dispute of 2004–05, which cost the NHL its entire season, Ovechkin stayed in Russia, playing for Moscow Dynamo. Several other Capitals played part or all of the lost season in Europe, including Olaf Kolzig, Brendan Witt, and Jeff Halpern. The Capitals' 2005 off-season consisted of making D.C.-area native Halpern the team's captain, signing Andrew Cassels, Ben Clymer, Mathieu Bironand Jamie Heward, and acquiring Chris Clark and Jeff Friesenvia trade.
The Capitals finished the 2005–2006 NHL season in the cellar of the Southeastern Division again, with a 29–41–12 campaign, having 12 more points than the 2003–04 Season, good for 27th out of the 30 NHL teams. Yet the team played close in every game, playing in 42 one-goal games, although losing 2/3 of those games. Ovechkin's rookie season exceeded the hype, as he led all 2005–06 NHL rookies in goals, points, power-play goals and shots. He finished third overall in the NHL in scoring and tied for third in goals; and his 425 shots not only led the league, but also set an NHL rookie record and was the fourth-highest total in NHL history. Ovechkin's rookie point total was the second-best in Washington Capitals history, and his goal total was tied for third in franchise history. Ovechkin won the
Calder Memorial Trophy, beating out Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosbyand Calgary Flamesdefenseman Dion Phaneuf. Many longtime Capitals had career years, with Dainius Zubrusnetting 57 points, Halpern having a career-best 33 assists, Matt Pettingerputting in a career-best 20-goal, 38-point effort and seven others on the relatively young team topping 20 points for the first time. Two notable landmarks were also hit by Capitals, as the team's longest tenured Capital, Olaf Kolzig, won his 250th game in goal and Andrew Casselsbecame the 204th player to play 1,000 games, although he did not finish out his season with the team. A notable first was that Washington area native Jeff Halpernwas named captain of the hometown Capitals. At the 2006 trade deadline, March 8, Witt was traded to Nashville.
In the 2006 offseason, Halpern left the Capitals to join the
Dallas Stars; Chris Clark became the Capitals' new captain. Richard Zednik returned to the Capitals in 2006–07 after a disappointing 16-goal, 14-assist season in 2005–06 with Montreal, but was later dealt at the trade deadline to the New York Islanders after a disappointing and injury plagued season; the Caps also signed former Philadelphia Flyersenforcer Donald Brashear.
Yet the Capitals finished with the same point total (70) in 2006–2007 as they did the year before, although they won one less game.
Alexander Ovechkinwas the Capitals' lone representative in the All-Star game. The year was also notable for the breakout of Alexander Semin, who notched 38 goals in only his 2nd NHL season.
2007 offseason and 2007-08 season
The Capitals unveiled new uniforms on
June 22, 2007which coincided with the NHL Entry Draft and the new league-wide adaptation of the -designed uniform system for 2007–08. The change marks a return to the red, white, and blue color scheme originally used from 1974 to 1995. [http://www.washingtoncaps.com/news/news.asp?story_id=4783] The new primary logo is reminiscent of the original Capitals' logo, complete with a hockey stick formed by the letter "t"; it also includes a new feature the original logo didn't have: 3 stars representing Maryland, Virginia, and DC. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/21/AR2007062102100.html "Back in Red, White and Blue, Caps Make a Colorful Statement"] "Washington Post" June 22, 2007.] More simply, the stars are an obvious reference to the flag of DC, which is in turn based on the shield of George Washington's family coat of arms.
The Capitals finally signed Swedish phenom
Nicklas Backstrom, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, to three-year entry-level contract. They also recently signed 19 year old Simeon Varlamov to a three-year entry-level contract. They then went on to fill needs at defense, by signing puck moving defenseman Tom Poti, right wing, by signing Viktor Kozlov, and center, by signing playmaker Michael Nylander. Because of these signings there was much more hope for the 07–08 season and players were looking towards the playoffs.
After starting the season 6–14–1, the Capitals fired coach
Glen Hanlonand replaced him with Hershey Bearscoach Bruce Boudreauon Thanksgiving Day, 2007. On January 10, 2008, the Capitals signed Ovechkin to a league-record $124 million contract extension; at 13 years, it also had the second-longest term of any contract in the NHL, after New York Islandersgoaltender Rick DiPietro's 15-year contract. Despite the Capitals' young defense and injuries to key players such as Michael Nylander and Brian Pothier, Boudreau engineered a remarkable turnaround. Aided by key moves at the trade deadline ( Matt Cooke, Sergei Fedorovand Cristobal Huet), Ovechkin's league-leading 65 goals,Cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/recap?gameId=280403023|title=Ovechkin passes single-season mark as Capitals keep playoff hopes alive
accessdate=2008-04-03|publisher=ESPN.com] and Mike Green's NHL defenseman leading 18 goals, the Capitals won the Southeast Division title for the first time since the
2000–01 NHL season, edging out the Carolina Hurricanesfor the division title on the final game of the season. Their remarkable end of season run included winning 11 of the final 12 regular season games. The Capitals became the first team in NHL history to make the playoffs after being ranked 14th or lower in the standings at the season's midpoint. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/05/AR2008040502708.html Coming All the Way Back - washingtonpost.com ] ] . The Capitals drew the Philadelphia Flyersin the first round, and managed to force a Game 7 after being down 3-1 in the series. They ultimately lost to the Flyers 3-2 in OT.Cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?articleid=361339&page=NewsPage&service=page|title=Overtime goal sends Flyers to semifinals|accessdate=2008-04-22|publisher=NHL.com] After the season concluded, Boudreau's efforts were rewarded with a long term contract.
The accolades for the team continued to roll in after the end of the season. Alex Ovechkin won the
Art Ross Trophy, the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, the Hart Trophyand the Lester B. Pearson Award. Ovechkin became the first player in NHL history to win all four awards. He also was the first player to win an MVP award in any major sport in the Washington, DC area since Joe Theismannwon the NFL MVP in 1983. Moreover, he was named an NHL First Team All-Star and became the first player since 1953 to be named as such in each of his first three years in the NHL. Nicklas Backstrom was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, but ended up second to Chicago's Patrick Kane; however, Backstrom was still selected to the All-Star Rookie Team. Bruce Boudreau won the Jack Adams Awardfor NHL best coach. Ovechkin and Mike Greenwere named to the Sporting News All-Star Team, with Ovechkin being the Sporting News Player of the Year. [ [http://blog.washingtonpost.com/capitalsinsider/2008/06/ovechkins_trophy_haul_has_begu.html#comments A.O. Snags Hart, Pearson; Boudreau Wins Adams - Capitals Insider ] ]
"This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Capitals. For the full season-by-season history, see
Washington Capitals seasons"
"Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses/SOL = Shootout Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes"
:1 As of the
2005–06 NHL season, all games will have a winner; the OTL column includes SOL (Shootout losses).
Doug Mohns, 1974–75
Bill Clement, 1975–76
Yvon Labre, 1976–78
Guy Charron, 1978–79
Ryan Walter, 1979–82
Rod Langway, 1982–93
Kevin Hatcher, 1993–94
Dale Hunter, 1994–99
Adam Oates, 1999–2001
Steve Konowalchuk& Brendan Witt,
*Steve Konowalchuk, 2002–03
*No captain, 2003–05 (2004–05 lockout)
Jeff Halpern, 2005–06
*Chris Clark, 2006- "present"
"Retired Numbers": The Capitals have retired three numbers. Defenseman
Yvon Labre's number 7 was retired in 1980, during the last season of the career of this original Capital. In 1997, the Capitals retired the number 5 of defenseman Rod Langway, and center Dale Hunter's number 32 was raised in 2000. The Capitals also honor the leaguewide retirement of Wayne Gretzky's 99. Mike Gartnerwill have his number 11 retired on December 28, 2008
"Hall of Famers": The Capitals have four former players in the
Hockey Hall of Fame. Right wing Mike Gartnerwas the first to be inducted, in 2001, after a long NHL career that included ten years (1979–89) with the Caps. A year later, defenseman Rod Langway(1982–93 with Washington) joined Gartner, and in 2004, defenseman Larry Murphy(1984–89) was selected. In 2007, defenseman Scott Stevens(1982–90) became the fourth Washington Capital to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. In addition, Langway and former team owner Abe Pollinare honored in the Washington Hall of Stars, a series of banners honoring D.C. sports figures on the right-field wall at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
First-round draft picks
Greg Joly(1st overall)
*1975: Alex Forsyth (18th overall)
*1976: Rick Green (1st overall) &
Greg Carroll(15th overall)
Robert Picard(3rd overall)
Ryan Walter(2nd overall) & Tim Coulis(18th overall)
Mike Gartner(4th overall)
Darren Veitch(5th overall)
*1981: Bob Carpenter (3rd overall)
Scott Stevens(5th overall)
Kevin Hatcher(17th overall)
Yvon Corriveau(19th overall)
Jeff Greenlaw(19th overall)
Reggie Savage(15th overall)
Olaf Kölzig(19th overall)
John Slaney(9th overall)
Pat Peake(14th overall) & Trevor Halverson(21st overall)
Sergei Gonchar(14th overall)
Brendan Witt(11th overall) & Jason Allison(17th overall)
Nolan Baumgartner(10th overall) & Alexander Kharlamov(15th overall)
Brad Church(17th overall) & Miika Elomo(23rd overall)
Alexandre Volchkov(4th overall) & Jaroslav Svejkovsky(17th overall)
Nick Boynton(9th overall)
Kris Beech(7th overall)
Brian Sutherby(26th overall)
Steve Eminger(12th overall), Alexander Semin(13th overall), & Boyd Gordon(17th overall)
Eric Fehr(18th overall)
Alexander Ovechkin(1st overall), Jeff Schultz(27th overall), & Mike Green (29th overall)
Sasha Pokulok(14th overall) & Joe Finley(27th overall)
*2006: Nicklas Backstrom (4th overall) &
Semen Varlamov(23rd overall)
Karl Alzner(5th overall)
Anton Gustafsson(21st overall) & John Carlson(27th overall)
Franchise scoring leaders
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.
"Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Capitals player"
NHL awards and trophies
Prince of Wales Trophy
Hart Memorial Trophy
Alexander Ovechkin: 2007–08 Lester B. Pearson Award
Alexander Ovechkin: 2007–08 Art Ross Trophy
Alexander Ovechkin: 2007–08 Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
Alexander Ovechkin: 2007–08 Calder Memorial Trophy
Alexander Ovechkin: 2005–06 Frank J. Selke Trophy
Doug Jarvis: 1983–84 Jack Adams Award
*Bryan Murray: 1983–84
Bruce Boudreau: 2007–08 James Norris Memorial Trophy
Rod Langway: 1982–83, 1983–84 William M. Jennings Trophy
Al Jensenand Pat Riggin: 1983–84
Franchise individual records
*Most Goals in a season:
Alexander Ovechkin, 65 (2007–2008)
*Most Goals in a season, rookie:
Alexander Ovechkin, 52 (2005–06)
*Most Assists in a season:
Dennis Maruk, 76 (1981–82)
*Most Assists in a season, rookie:
Nicklas Backstrom, 55 (2007–08)
*Most Points in a season:
Dennis Maruk, 136 (1981–82)
*Most Points in a season, rookie:
Alexander Ovechkin, 106 (2005–06)
*Most Points in a season, defenseman:
Larry Murphy, 81 (1986–87)
*Most Penalty Minutes in a season:
Alan May, 339 (1989–90)
List of NHL players
List of NHL seasons
* [http://capitals.nhl.com/ Official website of the Washington Capitals]
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