Monday, March 10, 2008

The origins of "The Curse"

There is no other team in the National Hockey League that has inflicted more torment on the Capitals than the Pittsburgh Penguins.

We think we now know why. It is the revenge of the hockey gods for smiting one of their own.

A little history is in order. When the Capitals entered the league in 1974, they were bad. No, not just bad, "bad for the ages" bad. They lost to everyone, including the Penguins. From the inaugural 1974-75 season through 1981-82, the Caps' record against Pittsburgh in the regular season was 16-24-6...not really all that bad considering how bad the Caps were in those early years.

Then when the Caps achieved some competitive success, they took care of business against the Penguins...from 1982-83 through 1986-87, they were 24-7-2. But it was in the last game of that 1986-87 series that the seeds of the curse were planted.

It was March 20, 1987. Caps fans of a certain age will know that date and its significance right away. It was a Friday night in Washington, and the Caps came into the contest with the Penguins struggling with a 30-32-9 record, desperately trying to qualify for the playoffs. Then, there was the third fight in this video...

Bob Gould one-punched Mario Lemieux, who had to be led off the ice draped over the shoulders of two teammates, into a concussion. The Caps won that game, 4-3, and would not lose again in the regular season, finishing 8-0-1 to make the playoffs.

That, my friends, is what is referred to as a "Pyrrhic" victory. Since that knockout, the Caps are 33-57-8 in the regular season against the Penguins and have won a season series against Pittsburgh only three times in 20 seasons. There is also the not-so-small matter of the 1-6 record in playoff series in which the Caps have a 16-26 record in games played.

It all started with a punch.

Bob?...I love ya, and it was certainly a sight to see the big guy dropped like a sack of poutine, but maybe...just's time to say you're sorry.

1 comment:

PureAgression said...

More like the Curse of Abe Pollin to me. Or the curse that should be named after a friend of mine, who, shortly after the Jagr contract extension, declared that the Caps would "find a way to lose."