|2009–10 Washington Capitals season|
|Home arena||Verizon Center|
|Colors||Red, Navy, White
|Media||Comcast SportsNet Washington
|General manager||George McPhee|
|Head coach||Bruce Boudreau|
|Minor league affiliates||Hershey Bears (AHL)
South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL)
|Division championships||1988–89, 1999–00
The Washington Capitals are a professional ice hockey team based in Washington, D.C. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). Since their founding in 1974, "The Caps" have won one conference championship to reach the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, and captured five division titles. In 1997, the team moved their home hockey rink from the suburban Capital Centre to the new Verizon Center in Washington's Chinatown neighborhood. Former AOL executive Ted Leonsis has owned the team since 1999, and has revitalized the franchise by signing star players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green, and Alexander Semin, and hiring head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Along with the Kansas City Scouts, the Capitals joined the National Hockey League as an expansion team for the 1974–75 season. The team was owned by Abe Pollin (also owner of the NBA's Washington Bullets until his death on Nov. 24, 2009). Pollin had built the Capital Centre in suburban Landover, Maryland, to house both the Bullets (who formerly played in Baltimore) and the Capitals. His first act as owner was to hire Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt as general manager.
With a combined 30 teams between the NHL and the World Hockey Association (WHA), the available talent was stretched thin. The Capitals had few players with professional experience and were at a disadvantage against the long-standing teams that were stocked with veteran players. Like the other three teams who joined the league during the WHA era—the Scouts, Atlanta Flames and New York Islanders—the Capitals did not factor the survival of the rival league 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 records later broken), 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 McNab was hired as GM, and Tom McVie was 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 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 Poile as 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 Canadiens for 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 Stevens during 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 (and eventual) Stanley Cup Champion 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 and won 50 games for the first time in franchise history, good enough for the third-best record in the league. They defeated the Islanders in the first round but were eliminated 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 Epic game, 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 Mason was beaten on a Pat LaFontaine shot from the blue line. For the 1989 playoff push, Gartner and defenseman Larry Murphy were traded to the Minnesota North Stars in 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 Cup seemed to elude the Capitals. Despite having rising stars in right-winger Peter Bondra, defenseman Sergei Gonchar, and center/left-wing Joé Juneau, the team's core players were mostly aging. From 1991 to 1994, the Capitals had their season ended three times by the eventual Stanley Cup champions. In 1991 and 1992, they were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and by the New York Rangers in 1994.
The Capitals were favorites during the 1993 playoff series with the New York Islanders but they were upset in six games. That series was most remembered when center Dale Hunter checked the Isles' Pierre Turgeon from behind in Game 6 after Turgeon scored the series-clinching goal. Hunter, who was trailing Turgeon on the play, checked Turgeon just after the goal while he started to celebrate. Turgeon sustained a separated shoulder from the hit, causing him to miss the following playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, although he played in game 7. Hunter, who had led his team with eight goals during that series, earned 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.
Then in 1998, Peter Bondra's 52 goals led the team, veterans Hunter, Juneau and Adam Oates returned to old form, and Olaf Kölzig had 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 outmatched by the defending champions, the Detroit Red Wings, who won in a four-game sweep.
That same season, Oates, Phil Housley, and Dale Hunter all 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.
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 Ted Leonsis. 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 Oates demanded a trade but management refused and stripped him of his team captaincy.
In the summer of 2001, the Capitals landed five-time Art Ross Trophy winner 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, after Oates was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, 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.
Before the 2002-03 season, 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. Washington was back in the playoffs 2003, but disappointed fans again by losing in six games to the Tampa Bay Lightning after 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 Doig skating 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 never lived up to expectations during his time with the Capitals, failing to finish among the league's top scorers or make the postseason All-Star Team. The Caps 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 Rangers for Anson Carter and 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 League that 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.
In the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the Capitals won the Draft Lottery, and selected Alexander Ovechkin first 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 Kölzig, 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 Biron and Jamie Heward, and acquiring Chris Clark and Jeff Friesen via trade.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, OTL = Overtime Losses/SOL = Shootout Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|2004–05||Season cancelled because of 2004–05 NHL lockout|
|2005–06||82||29||41||12||70||237||306||1426||5th, Southeast||Did not qualify|
|2006–07||82||28||40||14||70||235||286||1205||5th, Southeast||Did not qualify|
|2007–08||82||43||31||8||94||242||231||1015||1st, Southeast||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 3-4 (Flyers)|
|2008–09||82||50||24||8||108||272||245||1021||1st, Southeast||Lost in Conference Semifinals, 3-4 (Penguins)|
The Capitals finished the 2005–06 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 Crosby and Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf.
Many longtime Capitals had career years, with Dainius Zubrus netting 57 points, Halpern having a career-best 33 assists, Matt Pettinger putting 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 Kölzig, won his 250th game in goal and Andrew Cassels became 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 Halpern was 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 Flyers enforcer 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 Ovechkin was 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 second NHL season.
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 signed 19-year-old Semyon 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 Hanlon and replaced him with Hershey Bears coach Bruce Boudreau on 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 Islanders goaltender 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 Fedorov and Cristobal Huet), Ovechkin's league-leading 65 goals, 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 Hurricanes for 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 their conference standings at the season's midpoint. The Capitals drew the Philadelphia Flyers in 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. 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 Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award. Ovechkin became the first player in NHL history to win all four awards in the same season. He also was the first player to win an MVP award in any major sport in the Washington, DC area since Joe Theismann won 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 Award for NHL best coach. Ovechkin and Mike Green were named to the Sporting News All-Star Team, with Ovechkin being the Sporting News Player of the Year.
The Capitals finished the regular season with a record of 50-24-8 and a team record 108 points, and they won their second consecutive Southeast Division championship. They defeated the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs 4 games to 3, overcoming a 3-1 deficit. The Capitals were then defeated by the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference semi-finals in seven games.
Prior to the start of the 1995–96 season, in an attempt to modernize the look and merchandise sales, the team abandoned its original logo and color scheme in favor of a blue, black and bronze palette with an American bald eagle with five stars as its logo. The alternate logo depicted the Capitol with crossed hockey sticks behind. The new logos were viewed as being unpopular with fans. Prior to the 2000-01 season, the team retired its blue road jersey in favor of the alternate black Capitol uniform, but still kept the white eagle jersey for home games.
The Capitals unveiled new uniforms on June 22, 2007 which coincided with the NHL Entry Draft and the new league-wide adaptation of the Reebok-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. 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. More simply, the stars are a reference to the flag of DC, which is in turn based on the shield of George Washington's family coat of arms. The new alternative logo uses a blue "W" and the silhouette of the United States Capitol in the negative space below.
Updated March 3, 2010.
|19||Nicklas Backstrom||C||L||22||2006||Gävle, Sweden|
|18||Eric Belanger||C||L||32||2010||Sherbrooke, Quebec|
|10||Matt Bradley||RW||R||31||2005||Stittsville, Ontario|
|74||John Carlson||D||R||20||2008||Natick, Massachusetts|
|25||Jason Chimera||LW||L||30||2009||Edmonton, Alberta|
|77||Joe Corvo||D||R||32||2010||Oak Park, Illinois|
|4||John Erskine||D||L||29||2006||Kingston, Ontario|
|16||Eric Fehr||RW||R||24||2003||Winkler, Manitoba|
|14||Tomas Fleischmann||LW||L||25||2004||Kopřivnice, Czechoslovakia|
|15||Boyd Gordon||C||R||26||2002||Unity, Saskatchewan|
|52||Mike Green||D||R||24||2004||Calgary, Alberta|
|23||Milan Jurcina||D||L||26||2010||Liptovský Mikuláš, Czechoslovakia|
|22||Mike Knuble (A)||RW||R||37||2009||Toronto, Ontario|
|21||Brooks Laich||C||L||26||2004||Wawota, Saskatchewan|
|53||Quintin Laing||LW||L||30||2006||Harris, Saskatchewan|
|9||Brendan Morrison||C||L||34||2009||Pitt Meadows, British Columbia|
|26||Shaone Morrisonn||D||L||27||2004||Vancouver, British Columbia|
|8||Alexander Ovechkin (C)||LW||R||24||2004||Moscow, Soviet Union|
|3||Tom Poti (A)||D||L||32||2007||Worcester, Massachusetts|
|55||Jeff Schultz||D||L||24||2004||Calgary, Alberta|
|28||Alexander Semin||LW||R||26||2002||Krasnoyarsk, Soviet Union|
|89||Tyler Sloan||D||L||29||2008||Calgary, Alberta|
|39||Dave Steckel||C||L||28||2005||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|60||Jose Theodore||G||R||33||2008||Laval, Quebec|
|40||Semyon Varlamov||G||L||21||2006||Kuybyshev, Soviet Union|
|24||Scott Walker||RW||R||36||2010||Cambridge, Ontario|
The Capitals also honor the NHL's league-wide retirement of Wayne Gretzky's #99
Hall of Famers:
Statistics include regular season and playoffs.
These are the top-ten regular season 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
Template:2009–10 NHL Eastern Conference standings
Template:2009–10 NHL Southeast Division standings
GP - Games Played W - Wins L - Losses OTL - OT/Shootout Losses GF - Goals For GA - Goals Against PTS - Points
* - Division Leader x - Clinched Playoff spot y - Clinched Division z - Clinched Conference p - Clinched Presidents' Trophy e - Eliminated from Playoff Contention Template:2009–10 NHL Eastern Conference Quarter-finals bracket 1
2008–09 Washington Capitals season
2010–11 Washington Capitals season