Washington Capitals are 50 years old

Next season the Washington Capitals will celebrate their 50th anniversary with tons of surpirses (word around town) but on Jan. 21, 1974, they were officially established.
Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals / Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY NETWORK via

Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Washington Capitals. It was an NHL franchise being awarded to the Nation's Capital. 12,000 fan entries were submitted for name suggestion but it was Capitals that stood out among the pack. The annoucment was held at their first barn that was brand new at the time, the Capital Centre.

Senior writer of WashingtonCaps.com Mike Vogel wrote a tremendous piece on the history of that name annoucment and I encourage ALL CAPS fans (sorry) to check it out.

On Dec. 30, 1973 just before the calendar flipped to 1974 50 years ago, Russ White of The Washington Star-News came out with an article as fans in the District still awaited the new sports chapter called "The Ice Age In Washington".

The introductory paragraph, per Vogel, said, "The Ice Age has arrrived in Washington, as nearly 30,000 people await the first word on the season tickets that they have requested to see an expansion hockey team that as of today has no players, no coach, no name."

The first ever general manager for the team that was eventually going to be named Capitals, Mike Schmidt, who's a hockey hall of famer said this on the potential name, "I want them to come up with something snappy." Schmidt also added that he wants the name to stick with the team and franchise wherever they go.

When Jan. 2, 2024 hit, the potential new expansion franchise held a contest for fans to name the team as the front office started to form. The news was relesed on Jan. 3 on local newspapers since you know us and our other friends in the Caps blogging world didn't exist back then.

The prize for the winning name was two seasons tickets for the lucky and smart fan that season. They had until midnight on Jan. 17. While lots of name suggestions rolled in for the Washington Football Team's new name change process just a few short years ago, the times were different back then and the new hockey front office had 12,000 name suggestion options to choose from.

Abe Pollin, the owner of the franchise as well as the NBA's Washington Bullets, would pick the best names that he saw. Some of the suggestions, per another article by White for The Star included names that ranged from Aardvarks to Zips.

Thankfully they went with Capitals and the rest is history.