The Franchise Four. The Mount Rushmore. Four players who tell the story of an organization. In this series, I’ll be taking a look at the history of all 30 NHL squads. For criteria, I’m choosing one forward, defenceman, goaltender and a wild card from any position.
Since entering the NHL in 1974, the Washington Capitals have reached the Stanley Cup Final once.
During said time frame, the Capitals have iced the likes of, Alexander Ovechkin, Peter Bondra, Rod Langway, Olaf Kolzig, Mike Gartner, Mike Ridley, Calle Johansson, Dale Hunter, Michal Pivonka, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, Bobby Carpenter, Scott Stevens, Dennis Maruk, Dave Christian, Sergei Gonchar, Kevin Hatcher, Braden Holtby, Don Beaupre, Mike Green, Sylvain Cote, Joe Reekie, Larry Murphy and Brendan Witt.
So, which players make their “Franchise Four?”
4. The Goalie – Olaf Kolzig
Playing 16 seasons with Washington, Kolzig was a two-time All-Star. In 1999-00, “Olie the Goalie” won the Vezina Trophy. Kolzig also took home the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2005-06. Kolzig helped guide the 1997-98 Capitals to a Stanley Cup Final appearance, besting all netminders with 740 saves, four shutouts and a .941 save percentage. Kolzig also won the Calder Cup in 1993-94, with Washington’s then AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates. In Capitals franchise history, Kolzig tops the charts in games played (711), wins (301), shutouts (35), saves (18,013), minutes (41,261) and ranks third in save percentage (.906) and fourth in goals-against average (2.70).
3. The Defenseman – Rod Langway
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Langway played eleven seasons with the Capitals and was a four-time All-Star. Langway won consecutive James Norris Memorial trophies in 1982-83 and 1983-84. During both of those campaigns, Langway led the league in games played and was an NHL First Team All-Star. When with the Caps, Langway also placed in the top four in Hart Memorial Trophy voting. In Caps franchise history, Langway ranks eighth in games played (726), first in plus/minus (117) and second in defensive point shares (48.3).
2. The Wild Card – Peter Bondra
Across 14 seasons with Washington, Bondra was a five-time All-Star. Bondra led the league in goal scoring and power play goals twice, short-handed tallies and game-winning goals once. With the Caps, Bondra registered two seasons of 50-plus goals, four campaigns of 40-plus markers and nine seasons of 30-plus tallies. During the 1997-98 season, Bondra helped lead the Caps to the Stanley Cup Final, posting 12 points in 17 games. In 73 postseason contests, Bondra recorded 30 goals, 26 helpers and 56 points. In Capital franchise history, Bondra ranks second in games played (961), goals (472), points (825), even strength goals (303), power play goals (137) and game-winning goals (73), eighth in assists (353) and first in short-handed goals (32).
1. The Forward – Alexander Ovechkin
As of this writing, Ovechkin is in his eleventh season with the Capitals. The all-time leading Russian scorer in NHL history, Ovechkin is a five-time All-Star. With Washington, Ovechkin has won the Hart Memorial Trophy on three occasions, the Maurice Richard Trophy five times, Ted Lindsay Award three times, Art Ross Trophy once and the Calder Memorial Trophy. A scoring machine, Ovechkin has recorded one season of more than 60 goals, six seasons of 50 plus goals, seven seasons of 40 or more goals and ten seasons of 30 or more tallies. Ovechkin has also led the league in short-handed markers on three occasions and power play goals four times. Across 72 postseason contests, Ovechkin has 36 goals, 34 helpers and 70 points. In Capitals franchise history, Ovechkin ranks first in goals (492), points (925), even strength goals (305), power play goals (183), game-winning goals (82) and second in assists (433).
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.