May 20, 2022

Washington Capitals “40 Greatest Caps”

The Washington Capitals recently announced voting for the “40 Greatest Caps” to commemorate their 40th anniversary season this year. The voting is for 10 additions to the “30 Greatest Caps” they did 10 years ago.

Here’s the entire ballot.

Here’s how the District Sports Page staff voted. Each person could vote for up to 10 players on the ballot:

DAVE:  I took a fairly hard-lined approach to my ballot. I realize this is just a light-hearted way to get fans involved with the anniversary and history of the club, but I am of the opinion that “all-time” lists should have stringent inclusion requirements.

None. Braden Holtby might one day belong on this list, but not yet. Jim Carey had one great year, but not enough to be an all-time great. Pete Peters and Pat Riggin were good, but did most of their best work elsewhere.

Mike Green: Back-to-back 70-point seasons and Norris Trophy nominations. One of the most dynamic players to don the sweater until accumulation of injury decimated his production.
Phil Housley: Only played in DC two seasons, but the 15-time all-star is one of the most decorated American players in history.
Ken Klee: A hard-working stay-at-home defenseman when it really meant something. All he did was show up every night and do his job.

Karl Alzner and John Carlson can go on the 50th anniversary team.

Nicklas Backstrom: Doesn’t get the recognition nationally, but locals know how good Nick Backstrom is. He’s Adam Oates to Ovechkin’s Brett Hull.
Dave Christian: Don’t understand how Christian was left off the original anniversary team. Scored between 23 and 41 goals each of his six seasons for the Caps. 1980 Olympian to boot.
Chris Clark: A 20- and 30-goal season in his first two campaigns with Caps before the devastating injury. Never close to the same player. Wore the “C”, which is good enough for me.
John Druce: Led this team to its first Conference Finals with 14 goals in 15 playoff games in 1989-90.
Jeff Halpern: DC-area native and longtime NHL veteran played his best years in DC. Wore the “C”. Captain of 2008 US World Championship team.
Joe Juneau: Instrumental in the Caps run to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance to date, scoring the overtime goal against Buffalo to send them to the finals.
Alex Ovechkin: Some day, will be on the list of “40 Greatest NHL Players”. 422 goals in nine seasons.

Wrestled with: Mike Knuble, Alexander Semin, Craig Laughlin, Brooks Laich, Bobby Gould, Brendan Witt.


Braden Holtby
Phil Housley
Karl Alzner: Because he’s a good Canadian boy. Intelligent and reliable.
Joe Reekie
Nicklas Backstrom: He is quietly good at everything, and doesn’t get the attention he deserves for it. Alex Ovechkin owes him a lot.
Joe Juneau
Mike Knuble: His 2011 Winter Classic goal will live forever. Not to mention Joel Ward’s GWG in Game 7 of the ECQF that sent the Capitals to the second round of the playoffs.
Craig Laughlin
Alex Ovechkin: It’s hard to believe that he’s been in the NHL for almost 10 years already, but it would be remiss to exclude probably the most well-known player in franchise history.
Write in: Alan May: How is this guy not already in the top 30?

J.J.: Mike Green: Don’t let the last few years detract from what Green did in his earlier years with the Caps. When a defenseman scores 31 goals in a season, that’s a special player.

Phil Housley: One of the best American players of all-time, Housley provided leadership and experience more than points. His time in Washington was brief, but it is fair to say his presence had a major impact during the Caps run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Ken Klee: The defensive ironman enjoyed a 14-season career, including eight seasons with the Caps. As a defensive-minded defenseman, he was never a flashy player, but he was very effective.

Joe Reekie: A good stay at home defenseman who was never afraid to drop his gloves. He was always fun to watch on the blue line.

Nicklas Backstrom: With everyone’s attention on Ovechkin, it is easy to forget about Backstrom. Make no mistake, he’s one of the best players not just on the team, but in the league and easily one of the best 40 players in team history.

Dave Christian: In six full seasons with the Caps, Christian tallied 50 points or more in each season and more than 80 twice. Oh, and he was on the US Olympic team that won the Gold Medal at Lake Placid in 1980. Enough said.

John Druce: Druce looked like a career fourth-liner until 1990 when he exploded in the playoffs. With the Caps in need of scoring thanks to an injured Din Ciccarelli, Druce scored 14 goals in 15 games leading the Caps to the first semifinals appearance in franchise history. Today’s team could use a player like Druce.

Joe Juneau: An incredibly smart, versatile player, Juneau is certainly good enough to be on this list. Add in the fact that he scored the biggest goal in the history of the franchise, this one was a no-brainer.

Alex Ovechkin: The most obvious pick on the list, even the biggest Ovechkin detractor couldn’t possibly exclude him from this list. Yes, he hasn’t brought a Stanley Cup to Washington, but neither did Bondra or Kolzig. The question for Ovechkin will be whether or not he’s the Capitals’ best player, not one of the 40 best.

ERICBraden Holtby was chosen mainly because of how instrumental he was in the team’s 2012 postseason. In statistically the closest seven-game series in NHL history, Holtby got the win in two overtime games, including Game 7.

Defensively, Mike Green stood out to me as the star in the list of nominees at that position. Green has scored several overtime goals over the years, especially in the playoffs, earning the moniker “Game Over Greenie”.

Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin combined for an astounding 1,716 points (746 goals and 970 assists) in 1,643 games for the club. In the five years the three played together (2007-12), the team was a Stanley Cup contender every year.

Chris Clark was the captain from 2006 until 2009, when he was traded to Columbus. An injury early in the 2007-08 season spelled the beginning of the end of the fan favorite’s career, after he came off a career-best 30 goals and 24 assists the season before.

Joe Juneau scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final in 1998 at Buffalo to win the team’s first – and to date, only – Prince of Wales Trophy. Juneau had 63 goals in 321 games for the Capitals, but none bigger than the one he scored that night in the First Niagara Center.

Mike Knuble had two signature goals in his time in the nation’s capital – an overtime winner against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Super Bowl Sunday in 2010, and Washington’s first goal in the 2011 Winter Classic.

Brooks Laich’s on-ice work ethic and geniality with the media have made him one of the franchise’s most popular and iconic players. He is also the team’s longest-tenured player, coming to D.C. in 2004 via the trade that sent Peter Bondra to Ottawa.

And finally, Craig Laughlin picked up 283 points in 428 career games for Washington, but probably his most notable association with the team is the role he’s played for over two decades. He’s been the analyst for live Capitals games on CSN Washington since 1990 and has brought his extensive knowledge of the game to the living rooms of the DMV since then.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP


  1. […] 40 for 40 – The Caps are kicking off their 40th Anniversary celebrations by inducting 10 more Caps to their All-Time Team, as voted on by the fans. Here’s how one Caps blog voted. [DSP] […]

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