Washington Capitals

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Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals
Founded 1974
Home ice MCI Center
Based in Washington, D.C.
Colours Blue, black, bronze
League National Hockey League
Head coach Glen Hanlon
General manager George McPhee
Owner Ted Leonsis

The Washington Capitals are a National Hockey League team based in Washington, D.C.

Founded: 1974
Formerly Known As:
Arena: MCI Center
Uniform colors: Blue, black, and bronze
Logo design: Two logos: 1) The United States Capitol dome, crossed hockey sticks, a puck, and the words "WASHINGTON CAPITALS", and 2) A stylized eagle's body with bronze stars and the word "CAPITALS" underneath
Stanley Cup final appearances: 1 (1997-1998, lost to Detroit in 4 games)
Current Coach: Glen Hanlon

Franchise history

When the Capitals played its first season in 1974-1975, the team set an NHL record for futility, losing 67 of 80 games, and only winning one on the road. The team did not fare much better through the 1970s, and it was not until 1983 that the Caps made the playoffs for the first time, behind the explosive goal scoring of Dennis Maruk, Mike Gartner and Bobby Carpenter. The team was swept in its first ever playoff appearance by the eventual Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders.

The Caps would make the playoffs for each of the next 14 years in a row, but every time it ended in heartbreak. In the late 1980s, the Capitals, always a contender in the regular season, could never shake off its reputation for being "chokers". Despite a continuous march of stars like Gartner, Carpenter, Mike Ridley, Dave Christian, Dino Ciccarelli, Rod Langway or Kevin Hatcher, only once in that time period did the team ever get past the second round of the playoffs, a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the 1990 Wales Conference Finals.

By the mid-1990s, the Capitals seemed to fritter away whatever chance at lifting the Stanley Cup. Despite having rising stars in right-winger Peter Bondra, defenseman Sergei Gonchar and centre Joe Juneau (the latter already having his best days behind him when he was traded from the Bruins in 1994), the team's core players were mostly aging. One of the team's darkest days came in a 1993 playoff series with the New York Islanders, when Dale Hunter was suspended 21 games for a vicious hit on Pierre Turgeon after he had just scored the series-winning goal.

The Capitals finally took a step to getting rid of their choker image in 1998. Peter Bondra's 52 goals led the team, veterans Juneau and Adam Oates returned to old form, and Olaf Kölzig had a solid .920 save percentage as the Caps got past the Bruins, Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres (the latter on a dramatic double-overtime win in game 6) en route to the team's first (and to date, only) Stanley Cup finals appearance. However, the team was no match for the juggernaut Detroit Red Wings, who won in an easy four-game sweep.

The Caps returned to form in 1999, losing their spark from the previous year and missing the playoffs. After two more lackluster years (both ending in first-round playoff defeats to the Pittsburgh Penguins), the Caps scored a major coup in the summer of 2001, landing Jaromir Jagr, one of the best players in the NHL in the 1990s, for a song from a near-bankrupt Pittsburgh team. Despite the new power, the Caps failed to make the playoffs in 2002. In the summer of 2002, the Caps, made even more roster changes, including the signing the highly regarded Robert Lang as a free agent.

The Caps were back in the playoffs in 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.

In the early part of 2004 the Caps unloaded a lot of their high-priced talent in order to save money. Jaromir Jagr was traded to the Rangers, which was quickly followed by Peter 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 NHL that the league's leading scorer was traded in the middle of the season.

In the 2004 NHL Draft, the Capitals got the first pick and used it on Russian phenom Alexander Ovechkin. During the NHL labor dispute of 2004-05, which cost the NHL its entire season, Ovechkin has been playing in his native Russia along with another Russian rising star, Alexander Semin, who had made his NHL debut as a 19-year-old with the Capitals in 2004. Several other Capitals have played part or all of the lost season in Europe, including Olaf Kölzig, Brendan Witt, and Jeff Halpern.

Players of Note

Hall of Famers

Current stars

Not to be forgotten

Retired Numbers

External links

National Hockey League
Current Teams : Anaheim | Atlanta | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Phoenix | Pittsburgh | San Jose | St. Louis | Tampa Bay | Toronto | Vancouver | Washington
Trophies and Awards: Stanley Cup | Prince of Wales | Clarence S. Campbell | Presidents' Trophy | Art Ross | Bill Masterton | Calder | Conn Smythe | Hart | Norris | King Clancy | Lady Byng | Lester B. Pearson Award | Rocket Richard | Plus/Minus | Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award | Jennings | Vezina
Related Articles: AHL | ECHL | WHA | World Cup

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