Thursday, August 09, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- Rod Seiling: "We had a practice, played a game, then I was gone"

Last season, Alex Ovechkin became the first player in Washington Capitals history to appear in 1,000 career games with the club.  But of the 494 skaters to dress for the Caps in their 44-season history, how many players pulled on a Caps sweater for one, and only one game with the club?

It turns out there are more than you might think – 14 skaters to be exact, as well as four goaltenders.  Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at this group of “One-and-Done-ers.”  Some of them spent one game in a Caps uniform as part of a much longer career.  There is, for example, defenseman Rod Seiling.  He was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1962 on the first stop of his career.  He would play only one game with the Leafs, though, before he was shipped off with Dick Duff, Bob Nevin, Arnie Brown and Bill Collins to the New York Rangers for Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney.    

Being a Ranger was not an experience without its adventure, and this is where the wacky world of hockey management spins around.  By the summer of 1967, the Rangers did not think enough of Seiling to protect him from the expansion draft, and he was taken by the St. Louis Blues in the sixth round of that draft.  However, on the same day as the draft, they thought enough of him to reacquire him in a trade, Seiling going back east, so to speak, for Gary Sabourin, Bob Plager, Gord Kannegiesser and Tim Ecclestone.  It would be in New York where Seiling spent most of his career, skating parts of 12 seasons there, compiling 50 goals and 248 points in 644 games.

By 1974, Seiling's game was starting to fade a bit, despite not yet reaching his 30th birthday.  After consecutive 40-plus point seasons, he slipped to 30 points in 1973-74.  There was also the matter of criticism directed at the Rangers for being underachievers, some of it directed at Seiling, and even to the point of verbal taunts directed at his sons. It made for a toxic situation for the player.

After four games to open the 1974-75 season in which he had one point and a minus-4, Seiling was placed on waivers, where he was claimed by the Capitals on October 29, 1974.  He took the ice in his only appearance in a Caps sweater on Hallowe’en night in the Montreal Canadiens’ first-ever visit to Washington (well, Landover, Maryland) to face the expansion Capitals.  Seiling did not record a point.  No one else did, either.  Montreal shut out the Caps, 3-0, the fourth time in their first ten games that they were blanked. 

And here is where the wacky world of hockey management spins around once more.  Two days after skating for the Caps for the first time, Seiling was traded to Toronto – the team with which he originally signed – for Willie Brossart and Tim Ecclestone, making it the second time he was involved in a trade that sent Ecclestone in the other direction.  Seiling went on to play in another four seasons with three clubs – Toronto, the St. Louis Blues, and the Atlanta Flames, where he wrapped up his NHL career in 1978-79.  Seiling finished his career at age 34, having played 692 games with five clubs, one of those games with the Washington Capitals. But he does have some “sepia memories.” 

Photo: Getty Images