Thursday, August 30, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- The Goalies

We took a look at the 14 skaters who dressed for only one game as a Washington Capital, including nine players whose only NHL appearance was with the Caps.  Now, in the final installment of “one-and-done,” we look at four goaltenders who appeared just once for the Capitals.

Robbie Moore, “Phacing a Phamiliar Phoe”

By today’s goaltender standards, where size and filling the net are hallmarks of NHL netminders, Robbie Moore would be almost unrecognizable.  At five-feet, five inches tall and 155 pounds, he was among the smallest goaltenders ever to dress for an NHL game.  Perhaps his size was a factor in not being drafted by an NHL team, although he was drafted as a 20-year old in the 11th round (187th overall) by the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association in their 1974 amateur draft, after Moore had completed two of his four seasons in the University of Michigan program.

Moore never played for the Whalers, completing his four-year stint with the Wolverines and then playing a season with the University of Western Ontario in 1976-1977.  Then, at the age of 24, he signed his first pro deal, joining the Philadelphia Flyers organization as a free agent.  He toiled in Maine with the AHL Mariners for the better part of the next two seasons before getting his first NHL opportunity in 1978-1979, and he certainly took advantage of it.  It came under difficult circumstances for the Flyers, who were dealing with what would be a career-ending eye injury to goalie Bernie Parent.  In early March, Moore got the call to try to fill the void and pitched a 22-save, 5-0 shutout against the Colorado Rockies.

Moore would go on to post a 3-0-1 win-loss record with a sterling 1.77 goals against average and a .927 save percentage in five appearances with the Flyers.  Unfortunately for Moore, the Flyers had a Calder Trophy winning goalie in waiting in Pete Peeters who would go 29-5-5 the following season to win the prize as the NHL’s top rookie.  Moore never played for the Flyers again, returning to Maine for two more AHL seasons with the Mariners.

After the 1980-1981 season, Moore signed as a free agent with the Minnesota North Stars and played for the Nashville North Stars in the Central Hockey League.  Minnesota did not see enough in Moore to hold on to him and traded him to the Caps in August 1982 along with an 11th round draft pick for Wes Jarvis and Rollie Boutin.

It would not take long for Moore to make his first, and what would be his last appearance with the Caps.  After opening the 1982-1983 seasons with a 5-4 win over the New York Rangers, the Caps had a home-and-home set against the Flyers.  Washington lost the opening game of the set, 3-2, at Capital Centre before heading to Philadelphia the following night. Pat Riggin opened the game in goal for the Caps, but with the Caps nursing a 2-1 lead in the second period was lit up for three goals in a span of 1:37 to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead.  Moore opened the third period for the Caps and allowed an early goal to Brian Propp.  The Caps scored twice to make it a 5-4 game, but with Moore on the bench for an extra attacker, Bill Barber sealed the 6-4 Flyer win with an empty net goal in the last minute.  Moore would be pinned with the loss, finishing with six saves on seven shots faced in 19:43 of ice time, his career line with the Caps.

Moore would finish the season with the Hershey Bears and then play one more season of pro hockey, that with the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL, before his pro career ended at the age of 29.

Alain Raymond, “Done in by Dineen”

For Alain Raymond, the journey was a long one to his first and only game with the Capitals and in the NHL, for that matter.  He was taken in the 11th round of the 1983 draft (215th overall), one spot after defenseman Uwe Krupp, who played in 729 NHL games with five teams.  Raymond played three more seasons in Canadian juniors, with Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in the QMJHL.  After completing his career in juniors, he joined the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL in 1986-1987.  In his second season with the Komets, Raymond got his chance in the NHL. 

In December of the 1987-1988 season, number one goalie Pete Peeters suffered an eye injury, and the Caps needed a back-up for Clint Malarchuk.  Raymond was brought up to do so for a contest in Hartford against Whalers.  Malarchuk struggled early, allowing three goals on 14 shots in the first period as Hartford took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.

Raymond got the call to open the second period and kept Hartford off the scoreboard long enough for Greg Adams and Kevin Hatcher to score goals to tie the game.  Kevin Dineen scored mid-way through the period to restore the Whaler lead, but Hatcher scored his second of the game with less than two minutes left in the period to tie the game once more.  The only goal of the third period came in the tenth minute, Dineen scoring his second of the game, giving the Whalers a 5-4 win, Raymond taking the loss.

Raymond saw the experience as a valuable learning tool, remarking that "I'm happy I got a chance to play. That should help me when I come back."  However, while he would be recalled by the Caps on other occasions, he would not appear in another game for the Caps, nor would he do so for any other NHL team.  He returned to Fort Wayne after his single appearance, and he would play another six seasons at the minor league level before his career came to a close after the 1991-1992 season at age 26.

Mike Rosati, “A Long Way to Go for One Game”

One would be hard pressed to find a player who put in more miles over more time zones to get to the NHL than goalie Mike Rosati.  His career started in more or less a conventional fashion, the Toronto native being taken in the seventh round of the 1988 entry draft out of the Hamilton Steelhawks of the Ontario Hockey League by the New York Rangers.  And with that began a ten-year journey that finally ended in an NHL arena. 

After he was drafted, Rosati spent another year in Canadian junior (with the Niagara Falls Thunder) before playing a year in the ECHL with the Erie Panthers.  Then, it was off to Europe, where he would play six seasons with HC Bolzano in Italy.  In 1996-1997 he moved on to Adler Mannheim in Germany, where he spent another two seasons. 

Following his second season in Germany, Rosati returned to North America, signing as a free agent with the Caps.  He did not have to wait long to get a chance for the big club.  In early November, with the Caps’ backup situation behind number one goalie Olaf Kolzig depleted, Rosati was called up to back up Kolzig for a game in Ottawa against the Senators. 

Things did not go well for the Caps or for Kolzig, who allowed five goals on 16 shots before being pulled in favor of Rosati 11:49 into the second period.  Sometimes, pulling a goalie is intended to settle a team and provide a jolt.  Inserting Rosati into the lineup had the intended effect.  The Caps scored two goals 1:06 apart later in the second period to tie the game.  Washington poured it on in the third period, scoring three goals, while Rosati shut down the Senators to give the Caps an 8-5 win.

That would be all for Rosati with the Caps and in the NHL.  He finished the season splitting time between the Portland Pirates and the Manitoba Moose.  After the 1998-199 season he returned to Europe, rejoining Adler Mannheim, with whom he finished his pro career in 2002-2003, while also representing Italy in international play.

Rosati’s turn with the Caps represents something of an historical oddity.  He was the first goalie in the history of the league since shots on goal and save percentages were recorded to appear in one game, get credit for the win, and do so with a perfect 1.000 save percentage (Cody Rutkowsky became the second with St. Louis in 2002-2003).

Corey Hirsch, “It’s Not Over ‘til It’s Over”

At the 1991 NHL entry draft, the New York Rangers drafted Alex Kovalev with their first pick, 15th overall.  Kovalev went on to play more than 1,300 regular season games in the NHL.  None of the next five picks for the Rangers ever appeared in an NHL game.  Their seventh pick, Corey Hirsch (taken in the eighth round, 169th overall), was the only other pick from that Rangers draft class to appear in at least 100 NHL games.  One of them was in a Caps jersey, but it would take a while for that to happen.

Hirsch, who had already played three seasons with the Kamloops Blazers in the OHL when he was drafted by the Rangers, played one more season with Kamloops before joining the pro ranks with the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL in 1992-1993. But for a four-game stint with the Rangers in that 1992-1993 season, he spent three years with Binghamton before he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in April 1995 for forward Nathan LaFayette.  Hirsch appeared in 101 regular season games for the Canucks over four seasons with limited success, going 32-42-13, 3.13, .896 in 101 appearances, although he did finish fifth in the Calder Trophy voting for top NHL rookie in the 1995-1996 season. 

After his fourth season in Vancouver, his NHL tour began in earnest.  In August 1999 he was signed as a free agent by the Nashville Predators.  Late in the 1999-2000 season the Predators, for whom he never played, traded Hirsch to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for future considerations, which turned out to be one dollar.  Hirsch never played for the Mighty Ducks, either, and the following October finally made his way to Washington as a free agent.  But even there, there was a bit of a detour.  Instead of joining the Caps’ AHL affiliate Portland Pirates, he was lent to the Albany River Rats.  He played four games for the Rats, losing all of them.

Hirsch finally made his way to Portland, but it would not be until March that he would get a chance in Washington.  Backup goalie Craig Billington was injured, opening a spot on the Caps’ bench behind Olaf Kolzig for a game against the Ottawa Senators.  The Caps opened the scoring on a Joe Sacco goal less than three minutes into the game, but the tide turned soon thereafter.  Ottawa scored twice to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, and they they scored goals 62 seconds apart early in the second period to take a 4-1 lead.  The Caps got one back on a power play goal by Peter Bondra, but Radek Bonk solved Kolzig on a power play to restore the three goal lead going into the third period.

Enter Hirsch.  Hirsch kept the Senators off the board early in the period in what had all the looks of mop-up duty.  And then, Andrei Nikolishin scored at the 6:22 mark to cut the lead to two goals.  Seven minutes later, Trent Whitfield scored.  Less than two minutes after that, Sergei Gonchar tied the game. Finally, with just 1:28 left, Steve Konowalchuk completed the comeback to give the Caps – and Hirsch – a most improbable 6-5 win.

It would be the last game Hirsch would play in Washington.  He finished the season in Portland and split time the following season between Portland and the Philadelphia Phantoms.  After the 2001-2002 season he was signed away as a free agent by the Dallas Stars for whom he would play two games in his final NHL action.  After that season he headed to Europe, playing in Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany before his pro career ended after the 2004-2005 season.

Hirsch’s win with the Caps was his last in the NHL, part of a long hockey journey that had its joys on the ice – drinking from the Stanley Cup – and challenges off the ice And in his 20-minute career with the Caps and his struggles outside the rink, he stands as an inspirational argument that it’s never over until it’s over.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- The Onesies, Part IV: Rocking the Red

The last look at skaters who dressed for only one game with the Caps is the last pair who not only dressed for just one game with the Caps, but for just one game in the NHL.  

Peter LeBlanc

It is said that all good things come to those who wait, but sometimes it’s a case of good things coming to those who stick around.  That might be said of winger Peter LeBlanc’s journey from amateur draftee to NHL player.  After two decent, if not jump-off-the-page seasons with the Hamilton Red Wings of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League (combined 24-34-58 in 70 games), LeBlanc was drafted in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL entry draft (186th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Instead of taking the minor pro route up the developmental ladder, he enrolled at the University of New Hampshire, where he played for four seasons.  After posting 34 goals and 51 points in 153 games at the college level, he started up the pro development ladder splitting time with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL and the Rockford Icehogs in the AHL in 2010-2011.

LeBlanc spent the next two seasons in Rockford, but it was there that his development stalled.  Mid-way through that second season, LeBlanc was traded to the Capitals for future considerations (later to become Matt Beaudoin), and he completed the 2012-2013 season with the Hershey Bears.   LeBlanc skated the entire 2013-2014 season in Hershey, going 12-16-28 in 65 games, but with the Caps’ regular season winding down and out of playoff contention, he got his NHL chance.

In the Caps’ 82nd and last game of the season, LeBlanc made his way into the lineup at Verizon Center against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  He did manage to skate 11 shifts and almost ten minutes, but he did not record a point.  The thing is, no one else did, either.  And neither did any Lightning skater.  The teams played a scoreless regulation 60 minutes, and then they went through the five-minute overtime without a score.  Matt Carle scored the only goal in the Gimmick to give the Lightning a 1-0 win in Adam Oates’ last game as head coach for the Caps and one of the more forgettable games of the Rock the Red era.

For his part, LeBlanc did have one shot attempt (a miss), two hits, and a blocked shot.  It was his first and last game with the Caps, his first and last game in the NHL.  The following season he moved to Sweden to skate with Rogle BK.  He has split time between Europe and the ECHL since then, last skating for the Fife Flyers in the Elite Ice Hockey League in Great Britain in 2017-2018.  LeBlanc is the last Capital to wear sweater number “64” for the club.

Photo: AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Garrett Mitchell

The 2009 NHL entry draft was generally a successful one for the Caps.  In the first three rounds, they selected Marcus Johansson, who played in 501 regular season games for the Caps before he was traded to the New Jersey Devils for second and third round draft picks in 2018 (the Caps selected Martin Fehervary with the second round pick and the third round pick was sent to Chicago for defenseman Michal Kempny); Dmitry Orlov, who has played in 365 regular season games for the Caps; and Cody Eakin, who played 30 games for the Caps before he was included in a trade package to the Dallas Stars for Mike Ribeiro in June 2012.

In the sixth round of that draft the Caps selected forward Garrett Mitchell out of the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League.  He had not given much notice that he was a big producer on offense; he was 10-5-15 in 71 games for the Pats in 2008-2009.  He improved on that in each of the next two seasons (15-16-31 in 57 games in 2009-2010 and 18-34-52 in 70 games in 2010-2001), even getting a few games with the Hershey Bears in the AHL along the way.

Mitchell split time between Hershey and the South Carolina Stingrays in 2011-2012 and then made the Bears his permanent home thereafter.  Late in his sixth full season with the Bears, he finally got the call, almost eight years after he was drafted by the Capitals.  He and fellow Bears forward Chandler Stephenson were recalled to the team for the last regular season game on the schedule.  It was a reward for the Hershey captain, who was deemed worthy of an opportunity for his years of hard work

The Caps, who had already clinched their second consecutive Presidents Trophy with the league’s best record, might not have had sufficient focus to make much of a game of it against the Florida Panthers.  Whatever the reason, the Caps did not play their best game of the season and dropped a 2-0 decision.  In fact, it was the shortest contest in terms of length of game (coming in at just under two hours) of the season.  As for Mitchell, he had no points and no shots on goal (the only Capital not to record one) in a team low 8:48 of ice time. 

Mitchell returned to the Bears, where he has played since, this season becoming the 26th player in franchise history to appear in 400 regular season games.  What made the 2016-2017 season special for him was getting that call.  And while the line on the score sheet in his one turn in a Capitals jersey might lack enough marks on it, there cannot be anything that takes away from the moment one gets the word that you’re going to the show.

Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

We will take one final turn with the one-and-done players later this week when we look at the goalies who strapped on the pads once for the Capitals.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- The Onesies, Part III: The Rebuild

We have taken a look at two players who made their only NHL appearance while playing with the Washington Capitals in the 1970’s and another pair who made their only NHL appearance as a member of the Caps in the 1990’s.  In the third part of this look at one-time NHL’ers, we find a trio of players who made their lone NHL appearance while skating for the Capitals during “The Rebuild” following the dark season of 2004-2005.

Joey Tenute

Every draft has a story, and an unusual story of the 2003 NHL entry draft might have been how productive the ninth and final round was.  Of the 31 picks in the ninth round that year, eight players reached the NHL, all of them appearing in at least 150 NHL games, four of them dressed for more than 400 games, including goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who was taken 271st overall by the Montreal Canadiens (449 career appearances).

Fate having a sense of humor, Joey Tenute was taken with the final pick of the eighth round of that draft, 261st overall by the New Jersey Devils.  Tenute had just finished his third season in the Ontario Hockey League and his first with the Sarnia Sting, for whom he went 41-71-112, plus-36, in 68 regular season games.  Tenute spent one more season with the Sting (22-56-78, plus-8, in 58 games) before turning pro and joining the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL.  In his only season with the Rays he picked up where he left off in Sarnia, going 34-41-75 in 68 games.  However, at the end of that season, Tenute found himself a free agent and was signed by the Caps in November 2005.

The 2005-2006 season would be perhaps the most memorable for Tenute.  After he was sent to the Hershey Bears, he tied for fourth on the club in goals scored (20) and had 60 points in 61 games.  But it was in February that Tenute made the trip to the show.  On February 7th, the Caps recalled Tenute, along with Louis Robitaille and Jakub Klepis.  That night, all of them got sweaters for a game against the Florida Panthers at MCI Center. 

Unfortunately, Tenute’s NHL debut was buried under an avalanche of goals.  Florida’s Jon Sim recorded his first career hat trick to lead the Panthers to a 5-0 win.  For his part, Tenute registered one shot on goal without a point in 7:21 of ice time.  He was returned to Hershey on February 10th, and it was with the Bears with whom he finished the season, winning the Calder Cup with the Bears.

Tenute spent one more season in Hershey, with whom he skated in another Calder Cup final (they lost to the Hamilton Bulldogs).  After that season he signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Coyotes and would skate one season with the Coyotes’ San Antonia Rampage affiliate.  He spent one year in the Coyotes’ organization, after which he headed to Europe, where he played in Finland, Germany, and Austria before returning to North America for one more season, wrapping up his career in 2012-2013 with the Hamilton Bulldogs at the age of 29.

Photo: Getty Images

Jonas Johansson

The 2002 draft has a unique place in the history of the Washington Capitals.  Five of the first 28 picks would end up playing for Washington, either as draftees of the club (Steve Eminger, Alexander Semin, and Boyd Gordon), or as players drafted by other clubs who eventually found their way to Washington.  Jakub Klepis was one of those players (drafted by the Ottawa Senators with the 16th overall pick).  Jonas Johansson was the other one, taken with the 28th pick of the first round by the Colorado Avalanche.

Johansson, whose amateur history was in Sweden before his drafting by the Avalanche, came to North America after being drafted, skating for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL in 2002-2003, going 10-25-35, plus-6, in 26 games.  What that did for his prospects was to make him an attractive piece in a trade package, and he was included with Bates Battaglia in a trade with the Caps for Steve Konowalchuk and a 2004 third round draft pick.

Johansson’s development was rather conventional from that point – another year with Kamloops, and then into pro hockey, splitting time in the 2004-2005 season between the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL and the Portland Pirates of the AHL, the Caps’ top minor league affiliate at the time.

The following season, Johansson’s progress stalled to a degree.  He once more split time between South Carolina and Portland, scoring ten goals in 42 games between the two clubs.  But it was in this season, too, that he got his first – and only – taste of NHL action.  It came in Game 82, the last game of the regular season, the Caps already long out of playoff contention with a 28-41-12 record.  It did give the Caps a chance to end the season on a positive note, going into the contest in Tampa against the Lightning having won consecutive games for the first time in almost a month and with four wins in five games.

The Caps sandwiched a pair of goals by Jeff Halpern to open the scoring, and goals by Ben Clymer and Steve Eminger to close it around a Ruslan Fedotenko power play goal to take a 4-1 decision to end the season on a winning note.  Johansson skated just five shifts and 4:14 in ice time, none of it coming after the second period.  The only mark on his line of the score sheet was an interference penalty he took in the second period.

Johnasson spent the following season splitting time between the Hershey Bears and the Grand Rapids Griffins, to whom he was loaned late in the 2006-2007 season.  That would be the end of his career in North America, however.  He returned to Sweden the following season, rejoining the HV Jonkoping club from which he came to North America.  He remained in Europe over his last ten seasons in hockey, playing last for HC Gherdëina in the Alps Hockey League in 2016-2017.

Photo: Getty Images

Jamie Hunt

If getting to the NHL, even for one game, is the goal, defenseman Jamie Hunt was persistent in his effort to get there.  Undrafted by any NHL team, he played for three years at Mercyhurst College in the Atlantic Hockey Conference in the NCAA.  At the end of his third season at Mercyhurst, one in which he displayed a deft offensive touch (12-33-45 in 33 games), Hunt was signed as a free agent by the Caps. 

He made his way to the Hershey Bears to start his trip up the organizational ladder, but he slipped along the way.  But not before he had his chance to pull on a Capitals sweater.  In late December 2006 the Caps were trying to weather a tough stretch of illness and injuries, and Hunt was summoned to the club along with fellow defenseman Timo Helbling immediately after the Bears won a 4-2 decision in Albany against the River Rats.  Both got into the lineup in New Jersey against the Devils on December 29th.  Hunt played sparingly in the contest, skating a team-low 10 shifts and 6:01 in ice time.  Other than finishing minus-1, his line of the score sheet was otherwise unmarked in a 4-3 loss for the Caps.

Hunt was returned to the Bears in time to open the 2007 portion of Hershey’s schedule in January, but he did get a call-up later in the month (he did not get a spot in the lineup).  Then, his development hit a skid after he was returned to the Bears once more.  In late January 2007 he sustained a wrist injury against the Philadelphia Phantoms that caused him to miss the rest of the 2006-2007 regular season and the playoffs.

Hunt recovered to play one more season in Hershey, but following the 2007-2008 season he jumped to Europe to play with the Augsburger Panther in Germany.  He returned to North America in 2009-2010, signing as a free agent with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.  Hunt played two seasons with the Wolves without another call up to the NHL before he was released from his contract with the Wolves mid-season in 2010-2011.  He moved once more to Europe, finishing the season with the Graz 99ers in Austria.  It was his last year in hockey, his career coming to a close at the age of 26.  Hunt does have the distinction of being the only Mercyhurst alumnus to reach the NHL.

Our last look at the skaters who had only one career NHL appearance, and that in a Caps sweater, will look at a pair of players who got their chance in the Rock the Red era.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- The Onesies, Part II: The 1990's

In our second installment of the group of Washington Capitals for whom their only game with the Caps would be their only game in the NHL, we take a look at two players whose lone appearance came in the 1990’s.

Tyler Larter

The fourth round of the 1987 NHL entry draft was an interesting one.  Three players who would eventually play for the Caps were drafted in that round.  Joe Sacco was drafted 71st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs and made his way to the Caps late in his career, dressing for three seasons (1999-2000 through 2001-2002).  Kip Miller was taken by the Quebec Nordiques with the next pick and found his way to Washington for the last two seasons of his career (2002-2003 and 2003-2004).  Terry Yake was taken 81st overall in the fourth round of that draft, playing for four franchises before settling with the Caps in the last two seasons of his career (1999-2000 and 2000-2001).  Among them, they played 399 regular season games for the Caps and 1,590 regular season games in the their respective NHL careers.  And there was Mike Sullivan, taken 69th overall by the New York Rangers, who dressed for 709 regular season games with four teams.  None of them were the Caps, but Caps fans remember him vividly as the current coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Center Tyler Larter was taken by the Caps 78th overall in the fourth round of that draft after completing a successful third season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.  In 1986-1987 he exceeded the combined total of goals he scored in the previous two seasons (29 in 124 games) and almost matched his combined point total of the previous two seasons (95), going 34-59-93 in 59 games.  In the season after he was drafted by the Caps, he improved again, going 44-65-109 in 65 games with the Greyhounds. 

Larter turned pro following that 1987-1988 season in the OHL, moving up to the Baltimore Skipjacks in the AHL the next season.  In 71 games he went 9-19-28, but he also logged 189 penalty minutes, what would be a career high for him at any level of hockey.  His offensive production improved to start his second season in Baltimore, enough to earn him a call-up for a game on Long Island against the New York Islanders in early February.  It was a difficult night for the Caps, who fell behind, 3-0, in the first 27 minutes.  They crawled back within a goal twice, but New York scored an empty-net goal in the last minute for a 5-3 win that broke a three-game Caps winning streak.  Larter did not record a point, finishing minus-1 with two shots on goal. 

Two days later, he was returned to Baltimore, where he finished the season 31-36-67 in 79 games.  He added another five goals and 11 points in 12 postseason games for the Skipjacks.  That would be the beginning and end of his NHL journey, but he was not done traveling.  In May 1991 he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets with forward Bob Joyce and defenseman Kent Paynter for forwards Craig Duncanson, Brent Hughes and Simon Wheeldon, none of whom ever dressed for the Caps.  Larter would be claimed off the Winnipeg roster by the Minnesota North Stars in the 1991 expansion draft. 

And here there is a bit of an odd connection with the Caps.  Larter was taken by the North Stars with the pick immediately preceding that of the San Jose Sharks.  The Sharks took former Capital Bengt-Ake Gustafsson with that pick, a player who had last played in the NHL in 1989 with the Caps.  Of the 20 players taken in that expansion draft, four never played in the NHL again.  Larter, Gustafsson, Jeff Madill (drafted by the Sharks from New Jersey), and Guy Lafleur (drafted by Minnesota from Quebec).  Larter would later be traded back to Winnipeg by Minnesota, but he would spend the remainder of his career in minor league hockey and Europe, leaving the sport after the 1993-1994 season with the Whitley Warriors in Great Britain.

Ken Lovsin

Ken Lovsin took a bit of an unconventional route to his lone NHL appearance.  After a couple of college seasons in Canada, he was taken in the 1987 NHL supplemental draft (sixth overall by the Hartford Whalers).  Of the 20 players taken in that draft, only six would reach the NHL, Lovsin being one of them and the only one of the six to appear in just one NHL game. 

He would never move up the development ladder with Hartford and was signed by the Caps as a free agent in July 1990. He was a late reassignment out of training camp to the Baltimore Skipjacks in the AHL, but he received a holiday present of sorts in late December.  Lovsin got a sweater for the Caps in their December 26th meeting against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital Centre.  This is where the “of sorts” part of that present comes into play.  The Caps were lit up for five goals in the first 12:04 of the game and never really made a contest of it in a 7-3 loss that extended a winless streak to six games (0-5-1) and that would go on to reach eight (0-7-1), the Caps’ longest of the 1990-1991 season.

Lovsin did not record a point in that loss to Pittsburgh and was minus-2 with two shots on goal.  He returned to Baltimore where he completed the 1990-1991 season (8-28-36 in 79 games) and played the 1991-1992 season (11-24-35 in 77 gamers).  That would be all for his career in North America, though.  He did play in Sweden for a season with Mora IK and represented Canada internationally in 1993 and 1994 before his career ended at age 27.  Your odd Ken Lovsin fact is that he is one of seven Capitals to wear the number “37,” the last of whom was Capitals icon goalie Olaf Kolzig.

Next, we’ll take a look at the trio of one-gamers who made their appearance in ‘The Rebuild.”

Photo: Jerry Wachter/Getty Images

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- The Onesies, Part I: The 1970's

We have taken a look at five players who dressed for one game with the Washington Capitals on their respective NHL journeys: Rod Seiling, Shawn Cronin, Ryan Stanton, Chris Ferraro, and Barrie Moore.

But there is another group of nine skaters for whom their single appearance with the Caps was their only NHL game.  This group of “onesies” span the entire history of the club, from Brian Stapleton’s lone appearance in the 1975-1976 season, the Cap’s second season, to Garrett Mitchell’s lone appearance in the 2016-2017 season:

As a group, these nine players left no obvious footprint in Caps history, but even if it is just one game, it is the realization of a dream just about any kid had when they were still learning how to skate.  Who were these players?  Let’s start with two who took their turn with the Caps in the 1970’s.

Brian Stapleton

As one might expect of a player who would dress for only one NHL, game, right winger Brian Stapleton was not drafted by any NHL club.  After spending three years at Brown University, he joined the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL, posting a respectable 14-19-33 scoring line in 69 games.  It was enough to get the attention of the Caps, who offered him a three-game tryout in October 1975.  Despite improving on his numbers skating with the Dayton Gems in the IHL in 1975-1976 (he would go 26-34-60 in 74 games with the Gems), he would not get a chance to pull on a Caps sweater until Game 73 of the season.  By that time, the Caps’ sophomore season in the NHL was a lost cause.  They had yet to win consecutive games in the first 72 games of their schedule (in fact, had yet to post consecutive wins in their entire short history to that point), posting a 9-54-9 record before hosting the Kansas City Scouts in late March. 

Kansas City was not much better.  You could argue that despite their 12-49-11 record heading into their game with the Caps, they had become the inferior team.  They had not won a game since February 7th against, you guessed it, the Caps, and they had not won a road game in the entire 1976 portion of their schedule to that point, going 1-27 with seven ties.  It looked as if the Scouts would make it two in a row over the Caps and break a 19-game winless streak, carrying a 5-2 lead in the third period.  But the Caps scored three goals in rapid succession to tie the game, and fittingly, 5-5 is how the game ended.  The Scouts would go on to finish the season without a win over the remainder of their schedule, going 0-21 with six ties in their last 27 games.  Stapleton did not record a point against Kansas City and was a minus-2.  He would return to the minors for one more season, going 20-46-66 in 68 games with Dayton before his pro hockey career ended at the age of 25.  Stapleton did have one remarkable aspect of his career.  He was the first alumnus of the Brown University hockey program to reach the NHL.

Alex Forsyth

Capitals fans will remember Dennis Maruk as being one of the most prolific goal scorers in club history.  In 343 games with the Caps, Maruk scored 182 goals, including a 50-goal season in 1980-1981 and a 60-goal season the following year, the first player in club history to hit the 50 and 60 goal marks for a single season. What Caps fans might not remember is that the team selected center Alex Forsyth three spots ahead of Maruk, taken by the California Golden Seals, in the 1975 amateur draft.  The pick seemed to have merit, Forsyth having posted 27 goals in 64 games with the Kingston Canadians in the Ontario Hockey Association.  But on the other hand, Forsyth lasted until the ninth round of the 1975 World Hockey Association draft, taken 122nd overall by the San Diego Mariners. 

After being drafted by the Caps, he joined the Richmond Robins of the AHL, where things did not come quite so easily.  He was just 7-16-23 in 71 games for the Robins, although he did go 2-5-7 in eight postseason games with Richmond.  The following season, Forsyth got his chance with the big club, dressing in his first NHL game before reaching his 22nd birthday.

That chance came on November 12th against the Chicago Blackhawks, and it came at what was an historic period for the club.  The Caps had gone 172 games in their short history without having won consecutive games.  But after stumbling out of the gate in the 1976-1977 season with a 2-8-2 record, they pieced together a three-game winning streak, hoping to make it four in a row with Chicago visiting Capital Centre.

Alas, the Caps could not extend that winning streak to four, dropping a 5-4 decision to the Blackhawks.  For his part, Forsyth had a clean line on the score sheet – no goals, no assists, no points, even in plus-minus, and no penalty minutes.  He would go back to Springfield in the AHL, where he went 14-33-47 in 74 games for the Indians.  The following season he skated for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.  He went 15-16-31 in 69 games for the Oilers and was held without a point for Tulsa in the postseason.  It would be Forsyth’s last season in pro hockey, over at the age of 23.

The odd thing about Forsyth and the 1975 amateur draft is that he was one of two players taken by the Caps before Dennis Maruk was taken by California.  Defenseman Peter Scamurra was taken with the pick after Forsyth by the Caps, he playing 132 games for the Caps in his four-year career in the NHL, all with Washington.

Next, we'll take a look at the 1990's edition of this group.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- Ryan Stanton: “I’ll Take ‘The Letter C’ for $200, Alex”

Since its founding in 1984, the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League have sent 60 players to the NHL.  Seven of that group played in the NHL without having been drafted, a group that includes three-time Stanley Cup winner Mike Keane.  It is a group that also includes defenseman Ryan Stanton, who spent parts of five seasons with the Warriors.

After his last season in Moose Jaw, in 2009-2010, Stanton was signed as a free agent by the Chicago Blackhawks, who assigned him to the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL.  He dressed for two games at the end of the 2009-2010 season with Rockford and then spent the next two full seasons there.  He spent almost an entire third season with the Ice Hogs, but at the end of the abbreviated 2012-2013 NHL season, he got a sweater for the Blackhawks’ regular season finale against the St. Louis Blues.  He skated 17:05 without a point, but finished plus-1 with two penalty minutes in what would be the only game he played with Chicago.  Hold that thought.

At the end of the following September, Stanton was placed on waivers by the Blackhawks and was claimed by the Vancouver Canucks.  It was there where Stanton found a home, or at least regular playing time.  In two seasons in Vancouver, he skated a total of 118 games, going 4-23-27, plus-14, averaging more than 15 minutes a night.

With his contract expiring at the end of the 2014-2015 season, Stanton was not extended a qualifying offer by the Canucks, and he became an unrestricted free agent.   He did not appear to draw a lot of immediate interest.  It was not until July 24th that he would sign a deal, inking a one-year/$575,000 contract with the Caps.  He opened the 2015-2016 season with the Hershey Bears in the AHL and appeared in 60 games for the Caps’ top minor-league affiliate.  There was that one call up in January, though.  The Caps already were missing defensemen Brooks Orpik to an injury when John Carlson caught the injury bug, and the Caps sent Connor Carrick down the Bears and brought Stanton up to face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Caps went into Columbus on January 19th and overwhelmed the Blue Jackets with four straight goals in a span of less than 13 minutes after spotting the home team the first goal.  The outburst propelled the Caps to a 6-3 win that featured a four-assist night by Evgeny Kuznetsov and a pair of goals from Nicklas Backstrom.  Stanton’s line on the score sheet was more modest.  In 8:41 of ice time he was a minus-1, took a second-period holding penalty that led to a Columbus power play goal, and had an otherwise unmarked line on his score sheet.  It would be his only appearance with the Caps, and once Carlson was healthy enough to return to the lineup, he was reassigned to Hershey on January 28th.

At the end of the season Stanton would move on once more, signing a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche and extending a peculiar association with the letter “C.”  Originally signed by Chicago, moving on the Canucks, then to the Capitals, then to Colorado.  And then, in November 2016 he was traded to Columbus for defenseman Cody Goloubef.  Last summer he broke the string, signing a two-year free agent contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

The string Stanton has not been able to break since leaving the Capitals organization is the number of games played without a call-up to the NHL.  Over the last two seasons he played in a total of 94 games for three AHL clubs – San Antonio, Cleveland, and Bakersfield – but he has not cracked an NHL lineup.  At the age of 29, it is too early to say for certain (another “C”) that his NHL career is at an end, but for the moment it is that mid-January night in Columbus with the Caps that is his last NHL action.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- Barrie Moore: Sometimes It's Over Before It Begins

The 1993 NHL entry draft was an odd one.  It was the draft of one of the more disappointing first overall picks in NHL history, Alexandre Daigle claiming that distinction.  Perhaps stranger still is the fact that of the players taken in the last three rounds, the draft being 11 rounds in those days, five players appeared in 500 or more games in their respective NHL careers – Mike Grier, Pavol Demitra, Kimmo Timonen, German Titov, and Scott Nichol.

Left winger Barrie Moore was one of the more conventional late round picks, taken in the ninth round, 220th overall by the Buffalo Sabres, a long shot to make an NHL roster and a longer one to leave a lasting impression. He followed a conventional path in his development, spending the last two of his four seasons with the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League after he was drafted, and playing most of his first professional season in 1995-1996 with the Rochester Americans in the AHL, where he won a Calder Cup.

The 20-year old Moore did get a cup of coffee with the Sabres in that 1995-1996 season, dressing for three games at the tail end of the regular season.  It was an unremarkable debut, Moore blanked on the score sheet in each of the three games.  He got more exposure with the Sabres the following season, scoring his first NHL goal in his first appearance that season, a game-tying power play goal in what would be a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues to open the month of November.  It would not be a signal of prolific production to come, though, Moore going 2-6-8, plus-1, in 31 games.  It would be enough, however, to make Moore attractive enough to include in a trade package.  He was wrapped up with defenseman Craig Millar and sent to the Edmonton Oilers in mid-March for forward Miroslav Satan.

After appearing in four games with the Oilers at the end of the 1996-1997 season he found himself back in the minors for two seasons, skating with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL for the 1997-1998 season.  He moved on to the Indianapolis Ice of the IHL to open the following season, but by the end of it, he was moving on to a new organization once more.  In February 1999, the Oilers traded Moore to the Caps for forward Brad Church (who almost merits a story of his own, he and fellow Caps first round pick Miika Elomo appearing in only two career NHL games; only one first rounder of the 1995 draft appearing in fewer – San Jose Sharks pick Teemu Riihijarvi never appearing in an NHL game).

It would take Moore a while to find his way to Washington, spending the remainder of the 1998-1999 season and almost the entire 1999-2000 season with the Portland Pirates.  But there was that one game in January of that 1999-2000 season.  Moore found his way into the lineup of a Caps team on a four-game winning streak and points in eight of nine games.  Nine of 18 skaters recorded points in a 6-3 win in Tampa over the Lightning to make it five wins in a row.  Alas, Moore was not among the point-getters, and he logged just 9:50 in ice time in the win.

That would be the only 9:50 he would skate for the Caps and the last ice time he logged in the NHL, done at the age of 24.  Moore was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets the following summer in the 2000 expansion draft and spent the remainder of his pro career between playing in the minors and in Great Britain before ending his career after the 2004-2005 season.

Photo: Hockey Hall of Fame

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- Chris Ferraro: Some Things Are Bigger Than The Game

The 1992 NHL entry draft is not one that was either deep or especially productive.  For example, there is no 500-goal scorer out of that draft, no 400-goal scorer for that matter.  It claims only one 300-goal scorer, and that one – Alexei Yashin (337 goals) – is better known for the bizarre fashion in which his career unwound more than anything he did on the ice.

Tucked deep in that draft was a young center from Port Jefferson, NY, who wasn’t even the first player taken from his family in that draft. Chris Ferraro, the twin brother of Peter Ferraro (taken 24th overall by the New York Rangers) was taken in the fourth round, 85th overall in that draft by the Rangers.  The Sedin Twins they were not, but twins making the NHL is quite an achievement.  Between them, they appeared in 166 NHL games over their respective careers, Peter in 92 of them over a six-season career that included four games with the Caps in his last NHL season, in 2001-2002.  It is Chris, though, that is of interest here.

It took Chris three seasons after he was drafted to reach the NHL, years he spent at the University of Maine and then with the Binghamton Rangers in the AHL for a season.  He got his call-up to the show late in the 1995-1996 season and made his debut against the Florida Panthers.  Although his Rangers would lose that game, 5-3, the debut would have an almost storybook quality to it.  He scored a power play goal in that first game, his twin brother Peter earning the primary assist.

Ferraro played one more game for the Rangers that season and 12 games the next, recording a pair of goals and three points in the 14 games overall.  However, it did not look good for his becoming a more permanent fixture in the Ranger lineup, and he was waived in October 1997.  The Pittsburgh Penguins claimed him, and he went on to have his career season with the Pens in 1997-1998, modest as it was, going 3-4-7, minus-2, in 46 games.

It was a good enough performance for Ferraro to be signed by the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent in August of 1998.  Unfortunately for Ferraro, that was the first in a series of short stops followed by signings as a free agent.  After appearing in only two games with the Oilers in 1998-1999 he was signed in July 1999 by the New York Islanders.  After appearing in 11 games with the Isles, he was signed in July 2000 by the New Jersey Devils, for whom he never played, spending the entire 2000-2001 season with the Albany River Rats.

It would be the following summer, in August 2001, that he was traded to the Caps for, what else, “future considerations.”  And then, in the space of less than two months, it would be the best of times and the worst of them for Ferraro.  He was called up to the Caps in mid-October.  He made his debut with the Caps on October 16th in Los Angeles against the Kings, recording an assist on an Ulf Dahlen power play goal in the second period that proved important in the Caps’ 3-2 overtime win.  It would be his first game with the Caps and his last, and his only point with the club.

It should have been among the happiest of times.  His team debut, skating with his twin brother, who by this time was also a Capital, contributing to the win on enemy ice.  It lasted as long as it took to make a phone call to his wife that went unanswered With his wife’s illness hanging heavily over the couple, he took a leave of absence from the club.

Ferraro tried a comeback of sorts, signing as a free agent with the Phoenix Coyotes in July 2003, took a turn in Europe for a couple of seasons, did the same with the Syracuse and San Antonio franchises of the AHL, and spent a season in Las Vegas in the ECHL.  But Ferraro would not play in the NHL again before his pro career ended after the 2008-2009 season, his first game with the Capitals being his last.

Photo: Getty Images

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- Shawn Cronin: Going in for a Future Hall of Famer? No Pressure

In our first look at those players who dressed for only one game with the Washington Capitals, we looked at a player whose stop in the DMV came in the middle of a long career.  In this look back, we meet a one-and-done-er who played his one game with the Caps as his NHL debut before going on to compile a larger body of work elsewhere. 

Shawn Cronin had the sort of early start to his hockey journey that might seem a bit common these days, but was less so back in the early 1980’s.  As a 19-year old, undrafted by any NHL team, he landed at the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1982.  After spending four years playing defense for UIC, he was signed as a free agent by the Hartford Whalers in March 1986.  He broke into pro hockey splitting time in the 1986-1987 season skating with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in the International Hockey League, going 8-16-24 in 53 games there, and with the Binghamton Whalers of the American Hockey League, where he recorded one assist in 12 games.

Cronin spent another season in Binghamton, but it was his last in the Whaler organization.  He would be signed by the Capitals the following June, but he seemed destined to spend another season in an AHL sweater.  Then fate intervened.  Washington and the New York Rangers faced one another in a home-and-home set of games in October, the first of which was played in Manhattan.  In the 5-1 loss to the Blueshirts, defenseman Larry Murphy was injured, the victim of what was characterized as a “knee-to-knee leg whip” by the Rangers’ Tony Granato.  Murphy was held out of the rematch two days later, and Cronin was called up from the Baltimore Skipjacks to take his place in the lineup.

We would like to say that Cronin’s NHL debut was a success, both personally and for the team.  Sadly, it was not.  The Caps opened the scoring three minutes into the game on a power play goal by Dave Christian, but the Rangers answered with three power play goals of their own and added a Guy Lafleur tally early in the third period to sweep the home-and-home with a 4-1 win.  For his part, Cronin recorded neither a point nor a shot on goal in what would be his first and last appearance with the Caps.

It would not be his last game in the NHL, though.  The following summer, the Caps and Cronin parted ways, and he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers.  He never so much as dressed for training camp with the Flyers, traded to the Winnipeg Jets a month after his signing.  We use that word “traded” advisedly.  The return for Cronin was “future considerations” which would be cancelled as part of a trade that sent Keith Acton and Pete Peeters to Philadelphia by Winnipeg in October 1989.  In effect, Cronin was given to the Jets.

Nevertheless, Cronin did play three seasons with the Jets, recording one goal and 13 assists in 193 games.  He also logged 703 penalty minutes in those 193 games, largely on the basis of 61 fighting majors, earning him the nickname, “Cronin the Barbarian.” 

Following the 1991-1992 season, Cronin spent another short stay in a city for which he would not dress.  In August of 1992 he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for Dan Lambert, but barely a month later, on October 4th, he was waived and claimed by the Flyers.  He player 35 relatively quiet (37 penalty minutes) games for the Flyers in the 1992-1993 season while posting a career high in goals (two) before being traded to the San Jose Sharks for cash in August 1993.  It was there where Cronin spent his last two NHL seasons.  He would play another two seasons with the Fort Wayne Komets in the IHL before bowing out of pro hockey at the age of 33.  He finished the NHL portion of his career having played in 292 regular season games with four clubs, the first and only one of which was played in Landover with the Capitals as a fill-in for a future Hall of Famer.

Photo: Hockey Hall of Fame