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Team Vignette – Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League played their first game in the 1974-75 season losing by a score of 6-3 to the New York Rangers. The game would seemingly foreshadow the future as the team went on to break records in futility losing 67 games and managing only 21 points. Their history since has been dreadful.

Despite being witness to some very promising young talent over the years the Capitals have only made the Stanley Cup finals once and that was in 1997-98 when they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in four straight games.

The 1983 playoff series against the New York Islanders was marred when the team’s feisty Dale Hunter hit Pierre Turgeon of the Islanders after Turgeon had scored a goal. The Islanders star was lost with a separated shoulder and Hunter would be dealt a 21 game suspension by the NHL for his actions. That was the longest suspension in NHL history at the time.

Prominent players to lace up the skates for the Capitals include Hunter, Larry Murphy, Rod Langway, Ryan Walter, Mike Gartner, Scott Stevens, Yvon Labre, Olaf Kolzig, Sergei Gonchar, Alexander Semin, Alexander Ovechkin, Jaromir Jagr, Joe Juneau, Michael Pivonka, Guy Charron, Adam Oates, Peter Bondra, Bengt Gustafsson, Dennis Maruk and Doug Jarvis.

Awards include: the Prince of Wales Trophy in 1997-98; the Calder Memorial Trophy by Alexander Ovechkin in 2005-06; the James Norris Trophy in 1982-83 and 1983-84 by Rod Langway; the Frank J. Selke Trophy by Doug Jarvis in 1983-84; the Vezina Trophy by Jim Carey in 1995-96 and by Olaf Kolzig in 1999-00; the William M. Jennings Trophy by Al Jensen and Pat Riggin in 1983-84; and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy by Olaf Kolzig in 2005-06.

The Capitals have retired three numbers over the years: 5 for Rod Langway; 7 for Yvon Labre and 32 for Dale Hunter.

With a current team built on a foundation of talent such as Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Michael Nylander and Olaf Kolzig one would have to think the future would be bright for the franchise, but if history repeats itself the fans of the Washington Capitals may just end up continuing to experience disappointment.

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