I know I wrote a "last" blog for '08 earlier (on my personal blog), but I just remembered something.
With the recent retirement of Mike Gartner's #11 on Sunday, it brought to four the number of players who've had their numbers retired by the Capitals. The other 3 are #7, #5 and #32...Yvon Labre, Rod Langway and Dale Hunter, respectively. (Faux pas: on my NHL.com blog, I mistakenly listed #8 as Labre's number. Hell, Ovie's got...what, 15-20 more years left in him before we get around to retiring #8 for real??? LMAO)
All that reminds me that once upon a time, the Caps were (basically) the Detroit Lions of the NHL. Oh, it's true. I was there when it happened.
The 1974-75 season, to be exact. Year one for the franchise.
Nowadays, they play 84 games in the NHL. But back in the day, it was 80. And of those 80, the expansion Capitals won...8. They tied 5, which means 67 losses. It's still the NHL record for futility, believe it or not.
Watching those games on TV here in the D.C. area wasn't a picnic, either. I can't even tell you who the first win came against; that's how bad this was. It's not like there weren't good players on the ice for Washington, but mostly these were castoffs from other teams.
And yet I can still remember Greg Joly, who was the first draft pick of the Caps, on defense (along with Ace Bailey)...Ron Low in goal (yes, Caps fans, there really was a goalie before Olie Kolzig we embraced at the start)...and, for me, the lasting image of Jacques Plante of the Flyers staring up at the big TeleScreen @ the Capital Centre--looking to see how he let the lone Caps goal get by him in a 4-1 Flyers win. (I was there that night.)
But the fact remained the Caps stank in those early years. Little by little, via the draft (Gartner in '79) or trade (Langway the same year), the record and quality of play got better...so that by the '80s we became a playoff-caliber team.
So, I'm probably one of the few Caps fans left who remembers the beginnings of this franchise. Now, if Ovie and company can just win that damned Stanley Cup this year, God can take my a*s*s gladly!!! I want to see it happen in my lifetime, but do you think we can speed it up a little?? LMMFAO