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Meet the Washington Capitals

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 10, 2003


FIRST SEASON: 1974-75.

HOMES: The Capital Centre (1974-97, changed to USAir Arena in 1993), MCI Center (1997-present).

HOME FANS CHANT: "Let's go Caps."

MASCOT: Slapshot, a 6-foot, 190-pound eagle. His birth, on Nov. 17, 1995, was a little adventurous. The team placed an egg on the ice. Soon, Slapshot "hatched." But inside the egg was pretty hot. And upon exiting it, the person inside the costume got dizzy and fell to the ice.

RETIRED JERSEYS: Yvon Labre (No. 7), Rod Langway (No. 5) and Dale Hunter (No. 32).

BEST MOMENT: As Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser puts it, the Capitals are "choking dogs." They became the first professional franchise to blow a 3-1 series lead three times. But in 1998, fate smiled on the team. In the first round, the fourth-seeded Capitals beat the Bruins in six games while the top three seeds lost. With home-ice advantage, Washington defeated Ottawa in five and Buffalo in six to reach the Stanley Cup final. But there, the Capitals ran into the steamroller called the Red Wings, who swept them.

WORST MOMENT: You think the Lightning was bad? In the Capitals' inaugural season, they went 8-67-5 for 21 points, which still stands as the record for fewest points in a season. It took them until March28 to win their first road game, 5-3 against the now-defunct California Golden Seals. The players celebrated by carrying a trash can around the locker room the same way the Stanley Cup is carried around the ice by the winning team.

WORST PLAYOFF MOMENTS: April 18 (and 19), 1987 -- The Capitals lost Game 7 of the first round 3-2 at home to the Islanders in four overtimes. April 24 (and 25), 1996 -- The Capitals lost Game 4 of the first round 3-2 at home to the Penguins in four overtimes. Washington's Joe Juneau missed a penalty shot during the third overtime.

MOST AWKWARD MOMENT: Mired in a slump, the Capitals fired coach Bryan Murray on Jan.15, 1990, and replaced him with their minor-league coach, Terry Murray, Bryan's brother.

MOST FAMOUS PAST PLAYER: Jim Carey. No, we don't mean Ace Ventura. We mean the goaltender who was called up from the minors in March 1995 and immediately won NHL player of the month honors. He won the Vezina Trophy the next season but soon fell off the face of the Earth.

ALL-TIME LEADING GOAL SCORER: Peter Bondra, 451 (including 40 against the Lightning).

ALL-TIME ASSISTS LEADING: Michal Pivonka, 418.


ALL-TIMES GAMES LEADER: Calle Johansson, 983.

COOLEST ALL-TIME OWNER: Ted Leonsis, the current owner, made his money in AOL, so it figures he's computer savvy. He encourages fans to e-mail him, and he responds to every one. And a few seasons ago, an employee design a computer program to prevent Pittsburgh residents from buying tickets online for the Penguins' playoff games in Washington.

-- Compiled by Aaron Greenfield.

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