16 years ago today, the Washington Capitals clinched their first and only Stanley Cup appearance. In honor of them, let’s check up on that team!
Dale Hunter was the captain of that Washington Capitals team. The 1997-1998 season would be his last full season in the NHL and with the Capitals, as he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the trading deadline in 1999. He became the head coach of the London Knights of the OHL in 2001 and has been their head coach ever since, except for his short stint as the Capitals head coach back in 2011-2012, of course.
Adam Oates, the second leading scorer on the Washington Capitals in 1997-1998, went on to replace Hunter as the team captain when Hunter was traded. He wound up being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He had stints with the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils as an assistant coach before taking over Hunter as the head coach of the Washington Capitals. He was fired after this season. Kind of funny how much Oates has replaced Hunter, huh?
The leading scorer of the 1997-1998 Washington Capitals, Peter Bondra would enjoy a very solid NHL career. In 961 games, he scored 825 points (472 goals, 353 assists). After retiring in 2007, Bondra would serve as the General Manager for Slovakia’s hockey team until 2011.
Calle Johansson, the heart and soul of the Washington Capitals defense, would play six more seasons in the NHL (five of them with the Capitals). He served as a scout for the Capitals from 2003 to 2004, and since 2012, has been serving the Capitals as an assistant coach.
Joe Juneau, the leading scorer in the playoffs for the Washington Capitals, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres the next season. He ended his NHL career after the 2003-2004 season. In 828 games, he had 572 points (156 goals, 416 assists).
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar would stay with the Washington Capitals until he was traded in 2004. At the age of 39, Gonchar was still active in 2013-2014, playing with the Dallas Stars.
Goalie Olaf Kolzig enjoyed his best NHL season with the Washington Capitals in 1997-1998 with a career low 2.20 GAA and 92% save percentage. He is currently the goaltending coach for the Capitals and is still a fan favorite in DC.
Forward Andrei Nikolishin is famous for his playoff performance with the Washington Capitals in 1997-1998. During the regular season, in 38 games, Nikolishin had 16 points. In 21 playoff games, he had 14. Nikolishin retired in 2004. In 628 career games, Nikolishin had 280 points (93 goals, 187 assists).
I’ll never forget the 1997-1998 Washington Capitals. They were the ultimate underdogs. Unfortunately, they ran into a Detroit Red Wings team that was stacked beyond belief and they were swept. I’ll never forget going to my first ever Stanley Cup game, and I can’t wait until I get to see the Washington Capitals in another Stanley Cup!